Jürg Zeltner Believes in Small, Agile Asset Managers


  • It came as no suprise that the former head of UBS Wealth Management should find a new role in private banking - this time at KBL European Private Bankers where he has invested and will become CEO.

  • After offering blunt appraisals about the difficulties of leveraging “net new money” for bank profits, Zeltner has indicated that smaller players have a better growth horizon.

  • Technology seems to be one of the areas where Zeltner will try to grow KBL’s offering - possibly leading to offerings in digital assets.

  • Buying into the banking group gives Zeltner “skin in the game” - a term he uses himself and which reflects a strong entrepreneurial mindset.

The former head of UBS' private bank, Juerg Zeltner, is buying a stake in a European wealth manager. He will take the CEO job, and rapidly expand the business.

Juerg Zeltner will be named CEO of KBL European Private Bankers in Luxembourg on Friday, a source familiar with the matter told finews.com. The move comes as the Swiss banker takes a «significant» stake in the wealth management group, the person said, without elaborating.

KBL's 72 billion euros ($80.3 billion) in assets and 2,000 employees are puny compared to UBS. There, Zeltner oversaw more than $2 trillion in assets and nearly 10,000 staff until last year.

 Employee to Entrepreneur

Zeltner plans include growing KBL «rapidly,» the person said, by hiring private bankers. A spokesman for Zeltner, who also plans to take a board seat at KBL alongside his personal investment, didn't comment. 

The move makes Zeltner a principal running his own business; until now, he was lifelong UBS employee who climbed from apprentice in the 1980s to the Swiss bank's top wealth management job in 2008. Zeltner's hire was first reported by «Bloomberg» earlier on Thursday.

Zeltner, the person said, views the future of wealth management in small and agile players, rather than big and globally dominant firms. The banker had signaled as much in February, when he hinted at a comeback. 

Private Qatari Holding

KBL is a Luxembourg-based group held as a private investment by Qatar's ruling al-Thani family. It encompasses a network of private banks in Europe and the U.K., including Germany's Merck Finck, Brown Shipley in the U.K., and Dutch InsingerGilissen. 

At UBS, Zeltner was responsible for stanching $200 billion of crisis-era withdrawals by wealthy clients. He will replace KBL's current CEO Peter Vandekerckhove.

This article originally appeared on Finews.

Finance, PeopleIan Simpson