Published On: Fri, Nov 16th, 2012

Swiss bank lays off Bahamas staff

NASSAU, Bahamas – A leading financial services firm in The Bahamas has pulled the trigger on layoffs at its Nassau office due to a "realignment" of its business.

UBS (Bahamas) Limited has reportedly terminated at least 10 workers following a recent announcement by the head office that it will slash 10,000 jobs globally. While The Bahamas is getting off easy compared to larger metropolitan centers, CEO Beat Paoletto confirmed that operations in Nassau have not escaped unscathed.

He referred to a "new business model" that should ultimately result in more growth opportunities over the long term.

"The implementation of its strategic plan for The Bahamas and LATAM region has consequences on the structure," he said. "Accordingly, we have taken the decision to reduce the number of employees, following a careful and thorough review of our business and overall structure. While painful, this decision became necessary to maintain a UBS in The Bahamas that is both strong and well prepared for the future and its challenges."

Paoletto insisted that the Swiss bank remains committed to The Bahamas as a leading employer of choice.

Ryan Pinder, minister of financial services, told Guardian Business that he met with the UBS board on Wednesday, which flew into Nassau to make these strategic decisions.

He said the layoffs are a mix of Bahamians and foreigners.

While the industry never likes to see headcount reductions, Pinder noted that he was satisfied with UBS's direction and the firm maintains the support of government.

"They are reforming their operational structure to leverage and access Latin America," he explained. "Their business model is slightly different. In the context of that change, the business decision was made for a reduction in head count. I understand their strategy and they have the support of government. We hope to ensure private banking is on a growth contradictory."

The minister told Guardian Business that it is encouraging when a financial institution comes to the table with a plan and proactive stance.

The shift by UBS to Latin America is indeed consistent with the Ministry of Financial Services' overall vision and mandate going forward. Tightening regulatory requirements and a tumultuous global economy have continued to impact the banking industry over the last few years.

That reality has made a considerable impact on The Bahamas’ second economic pillar, with many local stakeholders fearing a gradual erosion of the sector.

The majority of the Swiss bank's layoffs have reportedly come from offices in New York and London, as UBS dramatically trims its investment banking operations.

By Jeffrey Todd
Nassau Guardian Business Editor

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