UBS AG



I visited UBS six years ago, received a nice reception, but the five-story building was undergoing renovations. I'm checking back to see how things turned out (go to my archive section to read the first visit).

The head office of UBS fronts Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's premiere shopping and business address. Built in the 1920's, the building has a solid yet understated appearance. The trees lining the street block most of the building from view and I'm sure many of the tourists walking by haven't a clue it's the head office for one of the world's biggest banks. Revenues last year were $49 billion with 80,000 employees.

Entering the building there's a banking hall but it's not huge, grand or opulent, as one would expect. I stop at the information desk manned by several people and ask if this is also the reception area for the head office. It is. I spend the next 30 minutes trying to track down who ended up with my letter of introduction sent a month earlier to Chairman & CEO Marcel Ospel. I leave not knowing. In the month since the letter was mailed out Ospel relinquished the CEO title and Peter Wuffli is now CEO. I return the next day and there's still no news for me. I return a third day and am told they're still trying to track down the letter. Meanwhile I leave more background material with the reception/security guards. I return a fourth day and receive both good and bad news. The bad news: they can't find my letter. The good news: Christoph Meier, Executive Director-Head Group Media Relations Switzerland, will meet with me.

Of course I have to fill Meier in about what I do since he's been given no advance briefing. I get a dig in about the bank's sloppiness in not having my letter-especially since it wasn't a problem six years ago but, I also thank him for showing flexibility in taking the time on such short notice to answer questions and walk me around the place.

The head office and several nearby buildings house nearly a thousand employees. Parking in Zurich's city center is scarce and expensive so only senior management gets reserved parking spots. Smoking policy varies from building to building and even from department to department. It's a 20-minute taxi ride to Zurich Airport, executive dining rooms are named after cities and there're no on-site recreational facilities.

I can't see CEO Wuffli's fourth floor middle office with a view of the Bahnhofstrasse because it's "too personal". I do have a look in the modernistic black carpeted boardroom on the fifth floor. Gray chairs surround a gray elongated oval-shaped table seating 28.