Union Bancaire Privee
Just like the four other private banks visited in Geneva, Union
Bancaire Privee (UBP) says they never received my letter of introduction
mailed a month earlier from Lausanne, a measly 35 miles away.
Sure sounds suspicious.
I drop by three times and on the third visit I meet with Michael
Wyler, Member Executive Management, who isn't very happy with
my dropping by without making an appointment. My visit lasts
all of eight minutes as Wyler says he's extremely busy. Why so
busy? Putting the final touches on UBP's acquisition of Discount
Bank and Trust Company, a smaller Geneva rival. The enlarged
bank will have 1,400 employees and 80 billion Swiss Francs of
assets under management.
Headquarters is a small eight-story building built in the 1950's.
This is Geneva's prime high-end shopping area with many big name
boutiques nearby. A Hugo Boss store stands directly across the
street. About 150 employees work in the building. UBP isn't a
very old bank, founded in 1969 by Edgar de Picciotto. His son,
Guy de Picciotto, is CEO of this family-owned bank.
Smoking is allowed in the offices, there's a corporate art collection
that Wyler describes as contemporary and my request to see the
CEO's office and boardroom is denied. Wyler answers my questions
not from the head office but in the lobby of a nearby building.
The closest I get to seeing the head office was during my first
visit when I walked in and the security guard/receptionist mistook
me for a delivery guy.