Sergio Ermotti is the Batman of Swiss bankers. At least, this is what UBS hopes – as it has recently brought Ermotti back as CEO and president to manage the monumental task of absorbing Switzerland’s other banking titan, Credit Suisse. The $3.2 billion deal was arranged hurriedly as Credit Suisse teetered on the brink of financial collapse, a failure that would have rocked the global banking system. Now Ermotti, who previously remade UBS into one of Europe’s strongest banks, is overseeing the shotgun marriage between the two rival banks: a project of national importance for Switzerland.
Ermotti, 62, has worked in the finance industry his whole life.
Born in Switzerland, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, he started with an apprenticeship at a local Swiss bank at 15. After graduating from the Advanced Management Programme at Oxford University, Ermotti spent a brief amount of time at Citibank as a trader. In 1987 he joined Merrill Lynch, where he spent the next 16 years, holding various positions within equity derivatives and capital markets. In 2005 he moved to UniCredit as head of the markets and investment banking division. By 2007, he was group deputy CEO, making him responsible for strategy at the corporate investment and private banking units.
In terms of career milestones, 2011 was especially notable for the Swiss banking executive. That year he joined UBS and was appointed to run the bank’s European, Middle Eastern, and African businesses. But after a $2.3 billion rogue trading scandal at UBS, Ermotti was unexpectedly made group CEO after just a few short months. He would serve at the bank’s helm for nine years, transforming UBS into one of the world's largest financial institutions.
For instance, when Ermotti started in 2011, UBS and Credit Suisse were similar in size and revenue: Credit Suisse had $28 billion in sales and UBS had $30 billion. By 2020, when Ermotti resigned from his top position, UBS had $32 billion in revenue, while Credit Suisse’s sales had fallen to $24 billion.
In addition to his UBS responsibilities, Ermotti serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Swiss Re, one of the world's largest reinsurance companies. He also is also lead non-executive director at Ermenegildo Zegna N. V., Chairman of Investindustrial Acquisition Corporation, and a board member at Innosuisse, Switzerland's Federal Innovation Promotion Agency.