March 22, 2018 / 10:11 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-UBS CEO says to expect "more of the same" performance

(Adds context on competitors, more CEO quotes)

ZURICH, March 22 (Reuters) - UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager, is seeing business in line with recent years so far in 2018, Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti said on Thursday.

“There has been a very euphoric start to the year,” Ermotti said at the Morgan Stanley European Financials Conference in London. “The rest, as I said before, is more of the same as we have seen in the last few years.”

He declined to give any further guidance about the Swiss bank’s first-quarter business.

After uncharacteristically steady markets in 2017 which continued with buoyant growth in January, a market downturn —presaged by sharp equity declines in February — was bound to come, the head of Switzerland’s biggest bank said.

“We are at the end of a long run of a bull market and economic expansion, which may still be there for awhile. But it’s not reasonable to expect that this is going to go on forever,” Ermotti said.

“We are very geared towards equities as a business, and in our wealth management businesses there is a correlation between how financial markets and equity markets go with our profitability.”

However, changing dynamics could boost the bank’s investment banking activities and help offset any impact to wealth management, he added.

Deutsche Bank on Wednesday cautioned over a 450 million euro first-quarter impact from a strong euro and higher funding costs, while the CEO of Swiss rival Credit Suisse said the bank was seeing a “very confused” quarter.

“January was a strong month, February was strange and March is a bit all over the place,” Credit Suisse boss Thiam had said on trading conditions. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, editing by John Revill and Michael Shields)

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