Listen, you guys. We know it makes you feel better to pick on banks for all those ethically dicey financial things like manipulating interest rates and making other questionable decisions. But the CEO of UBS wants you to cut it out, because while sticks and stones may break his bones, words will never hurt him. Sniff. Sniff.
Europe has been in the midst of a financial crisis for some time now and as such, banks are hearing a whole lot of frustrations from the public and investors. But apparently banks have been just biting their tongues and taking it. Until now.
Sergio Ermotti is the head of UBS and it sounds like his feelings have been hurt by all bank-bashing going on, reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Life is hard enough, and I think this constant lecturing on ethics and on integrity by many stakeholders is probably the most frustrating part of the equation. Because I don’t think there are many people who are perfect,” Ermotti said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We are far from being perfect…but it’s not going to be very helpful to be constantly bashing banks.”
Yes, life must be very hard for a millionaire CEO. But it sounds especially rough for Ermotti’s UBS, which has suffered huge losses in the wake of the financial crisis in Europe, as well as regular lambasting for things like its role in manipulating benchmark interest rates and a rogue-trading scandal.
Last May UBS provoked the wrath of angry shareholders at the annual meeting due to the comfy pay packages management was receiving even after a $2.7 billion loss.
Many believe tempting bonus packages are partly to blame for bankers making risky investments they might not otherwise make. Packages like the $26 million “golden hello” UBS paid Ermotti in 2012, the same year it fired 10,000 employees in a “cost-cutting” effort, the Financial Post previously reported.
Ermotti has been busy trying to clean things up at the bank since he arrived on the job in 2011, but it sounds like he’s having a tough go of it, due to those pesky shareholders. It’s not like anyone else is doing any better, he insists.
“When I look around, I don’t think there are many banks that can come to us and say they are the example that should be followed,” he said. And besides, the banks aren’t to blame for Europe’s economic troubles, he says.
“It’s just an absurd concept. We all see that by now it’s a little more than a financial crisis,” he explained. It’s just that the banking industry “is an easy target.”
Besides, all those troubles piling up on UBS’ and others’ doorsteps is due to just a couple of employees going rogue, and shouldn’t reflect on the industry itself.
“It’s not because you’re a banker that you’re a criminal,” he said.
Oh okay — so it shouldn’t up up to banks to get investors and the general public to trust them again. We’ve just all got to stop punishing the industry because its feelings are hurt. Got it.
UBS CEO: Bashing Banks Unhelpful to Financial System [Wall Street Journal]