Curdin Duschletta of UBS discusses the bank’s approach to training and developing its staff at all levels across its wealth management platform in Asia.
Date: May 2010
The UBS Business University
Given that the wealth management industry is at its heart a people business, it is not possible to run a private bank without high-quality people, good collaboration across teams and a deep understanding of the fundamentals, said Curdin Duschletta in an interview.
Plus, it also requires the right behavioural characteristics – from advising clients to accessing knowledge across the firm.
Training and development therefore becomes a big enabler and driver of successful business growth, said Duschletta.
This happens by training individuals and enhancing their capabilities, as well as by raising the bar across the entire organisation by implementing standards and certifying people at different levels in their careers.
An important reason why Duschletta said training and development has always been important at UBS is due to the bank’s size. It cannot just rely on hiring trained and experienced people from the market, he explained. Instead, it has a responsibility to build its own pipeline.
According to Duschletta, UBS has a structured training approach – rather than a sum of training programmes.
This starts with the individual key roles within the bank, and it maps out the core skills and capabilities that an individual needs. It can then design a learning pathway for each person.
Client advisers which join UBS therefore run a gap analysis with their line managers to map their current skills and capabilities against the expectations of the role. They can then access the various learning opportunities, explained Duschletta.
Applying the knowledge and skills
However, while having the right knowledge level is a crucial foundation, it is not enough, said Duschletta, and applying it is critical.
To address this, he said the UBS training is action-oriented, involving break-out sessions, role plays, video feedback, client simulations and team training.
The focus has also been on designing learning processes so that the training effort doesn’t stop at the end of the working week at 5pm on Friday – rather this is when it starts.
The aim is to involve the line managers to ensure learning transfer. So before individuals start any training, they should have defined learning and transfer objectives which are linked to their business objectives, explained Duschletta.
Line managers can then coach staff, provide feedback and ensure implementation of the learning in the workplace.
According to Duschletta, ensuring consistency is important when advising clients. This goes far beyond the training component – it boils down to the philosophy about the approach to deliver needs-based advice to clients.
For the training part of this, Duschletta said programmes are based on global standards to create a roadmap for training client advisers. They are then adapted for local regulations and cultural issues.
The Swiss model as a framework for Asia
In Switzerland, Duschletta explained that there is a tradition of apprenticeship programmes in the wealth management industry. These involve people joining a bank at 16 or 17 years old, and going through a three-year programme where they see different parts of the institution, from the back to middle offices, and then to client advisory functions in the second or third year. They are then well-groomed by the end of three years.
While he said this probably wouldn’t be effective or practical in the same way in other parts of the world, it influences the thinking around training and learning at UBS.
In Asia, for example, when the bank identified the gap in experienced private bankers, the Wealth Management Associate Program was partly influenced by what happens in Switzerland.
There are key differences in Asia, however, such as the fact that the bank goes for people with three to five (or more) years of work experience in the industry before training them.
But the bank then prepares them to be a client adviser while going through on- and off-the-job training, explained Duschletta.