UBS CEO says crypto is an untested asset class and he isn't worried about missing out on clients

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UBS CEO says crypto is an untested asset class and he isn't worried about missing out on clients
Ralph Hamers, CEO of UBS, gestures during in Zurich, Switzerland, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. Walter Bieri/Keystone via AP
  • Ralph Hamers, CEO of UBS Group, said he advises his clients to be cautious when it comes to crypto.
  • "We feel that crypto itself is still an untested asset category," he told Bloomberg.
  • Hamers also said he does not worry about losing out on billionaire clients by not offering crypto.

Ralph Hamers, the CEO of Swiss Bank UBS Group, said when it comes to cryptocurrencies, he advises his clients with caution.

"We feel that crypto itself is still an untested asset category," the chief executive told Bloomberg on Tuesday. "We don't offer it actively."

In May, UBS was reportedly in talks to offer cryptocurrency investments to its wealthy clients, joining many firms in responding to increasing client demand for digital assets.

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But any offering, sources told Bloomberg, would only be in small portions of their total investment to protect them from cryptocurrencies' famous price swings.

"Clients are looking at different alternatives and they hear about crypto, and there is a bit of a fear of missing out," the Dutch CEO told Bloomberg. But "I never have FOMO. I'm determined as to what I want to do."

Hamers, who replaced Sergio Ermotti in November 2020, also said he does not worry about losing out on billionaire clients who may want exposure to crypto.

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"It's also about focus," he said, adding that he chooses to work on the strengths of his firm. "This is what we're known for. This is what we do for our clients, and that's what we have to continue."

UBS has generally been less receptive towards digital assets compared to other banks.

Earlier this year, Kiran Ganesh, managing director and multi-asset strategist at UBS Wealth Management, told Insider that he doesn't see how cryptocurrencies are "going to be useful in the world at any time."

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But in the US, some of the major banks have already embraced cryptocurrencies. Goldman Sachs said it will trade non-deliverable forwards, and Morgan Stanley announced it will offer its wealth management clients access to bitcoin funds. Meanwhile, Bank of America last week said it would start trading bitcoin futures for some clients, according to reports.

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