The president of UBS Americas said the Swiss bank expects about 10% of its U.S. employees to work remotely full time once it implements a new flex work program.
The rollout of the plan will come in phases, beginning in the bank’s wealth unit, UBS’s Tom Naratil told Bloomberg on Wednesday. That means some of UBS’s newest additions will be among the first to benefit. UBS’s wealth-management silo is where Wealthfront will land when the Swiss bank’s $1.4 billion acquisition of the robo-adviser finalizes — a development expected in the second half of this year.
The flex work update apparently stems from home-grown requests: About 86% of UBS’s employees globally said they wanted more flexibility, including remote work, Bloomberg reported. The bank’s response can be seen as a measure to entice its workers to stay.
“For the industry, we’re all going to end up in the same place eventually, because the talent is going to move,” Naratil told Bloomberg, adding that new flex work options could benefit single parents, dual-working families and military veterans.
“Someone may find at a particular point in their life — maybe because of a family situation — that they may want to be 100% remote,” Naratil said.
About 800 of UBS’s 20,500 U.S. employees already work remotely. More than 70% of stateside UBS workers will take on a hybrid schedule with the new program, Naratil said. That leaves roughly 10% to 15% in the office full time.
“If only 10 to 15% of roles are five-day-a-week roles, that shows you how significant this is,” Naratil said.
UBS is hardly the first bank to propose full-time remote work for some employees. Synchrony Financial said in October 2020 it would let all U.S. workers stay remote permanently. Capital One, around the same time, said it would let most of its U.S. call-center employees work remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic. (The bank last summer said Mondays and Fridays would be virtual workdays for the company).
Those examples, however, are banks with a heavy contingent of credit-card business. Citi, almost exactly one year ago, became the first Wall Street bank to commit to a hybrid work schedule wherein most employees would work at least three days a week from the office and as many as two days remote.
UBS, for its part, said its investment bankers and others can work from nontraditional locations. Naratil said he expects Friday to be a popular remote-work day, and that most employees would be in the office from Tuesday to Thursday throughout the summer.
The bank's nascent flex-work commitment is not its first relaxation of typical strictures found in the banking industry. UBS CEO Ralph Hamers, in a November memo, announced that at the start of 2022, the bank would discontinue ranks above managing director.
Additionally, titles such as managing director, director and associate have been hidden in the bank’s internal directory as of February.
Hamers is hoping the change will push workers to be known for their function or role rather than their place in a pecking order, anonymous sources told Bloomberg.