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UBS's Blessing says Swiss banking employment to continue shrinking

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland May 4 UBS's Swiss boss Martin Blessing said on Thursday the number of Swiss banking industry employees was likely to continue to shrink over the next decade as demand for repetitive, face-to-face services wanes.

The Swiss banking industry employed 103,041 people in 2015, according to figures from the Swiss Bankers Association, compared with 105,735 two years earlier and more than 108,000 in 2007, before the financial crisis.

"My guess would be that the number will go down over the next 10 years, I don't know the percentage," Blessing said at a university conference in Switzerland.

"We see that clients are coming less frequently to our branches," he told attendees at the St. Gallen Symposium.

Blessing, an ex-Commerzbank boss whom UBS recruited last year to head its domestic business, added that some banking activities, in particular those that occur less frequently or which are perceived to have higher value including those for deep-pocketed clients, will continue to require employees to conduct personalised transactions.

"In transactions that don't happen that often, where you don't have a repetitive learning experience and really need trust, a lot of people still want to see the human person they are dealing with," he said.

"That happens if you do a mortgage - you do a mortgage only once or twice in your life - or it happens when you basically want to invest significantly for your future, or you are a wealthy client."

UBS has high hopes for its core wealth management business, as the unit's first-quarter turnaround helped the bank late last month report its second-best start to a year since the financial crisis. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Mark Potter)

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