Sabine Keller-Busse, chief operating officer of UBS Group AG.
Sabine Keller-Busse, chief operating officer of UBS Group AG.

The talent base in India is unmatched: UBS COO Sabine Keller-Busse

  • UBS COO Sabine Keller-Busse and UBS India head Harald Egger on the role of India in the Swiss bank's global back-office operations
  • They also spoke about the opportunities the bank sees for its investment banking franchise in India

Mumbai: Sabine Keller-Busse, chief operating officer of UBS Group AG, and Harald Egger, India country head at UBS, comment on how India has become the most important market for the Swiss bank for its global back office operations. They also speak about the opportunities the bank sees for its investment banking franchise, which has been operating for more than 25 years in India, where the talent base is unmatched, according to Keller-Busse. Edited excerpts:

A few years ago, UBS started to “insource" a lot of its back office operations in India by setting up its business solutions centres. How has that side of the business done for the bank and how important is India in the overall scheme of things for UBS?

Keller-Busse: Technology is becoming more and more a gamechanger on the business side and it is really transforming the way we do business. With technology being such an important thing for end clients, as a financial services provider, we felt that owning these resources is important. So we moved to insourcing. These business solution centres are a fundamental part of what we call our front-to-back way of working.

We started our first centre in India at Pune in 2015. Last year we opened a second site in Pune and we have one in Mumbai. We have almost 4,000 employees in India, today. India, with these numbers is our number one business solutions centre in terms of size. We have seen a pretty steep growth curve. It is very important to have the right talent and that is why India is very important to us because the talent base here is unmatched.

The UBS investment banking unit has been operational in India for more than two decades. Are you equally bullish on the investment banking opportunity here as you are for your back office operations?

Egger: From a strategic standpoint, India is a market where you have to be. In a market of 1.3 billion people, with 600 million below the age of 26 and gross domestic product growth of 7% every year, we are definitely looking at investment banking opportunities here.

We have research, equity sales supporting our global clients as well and we are working on the ground on M&A transactions. We have a huge local client base. We are closely monitoring the market growth. We expect opportunities to arise after the elections.

Keller-Busse: In the past India was more on the business side. What we are now seeing is from the back office side. We have spotted India as a very good place and that piece has grown.

The investment banking franchise has been here for many years and that is something that we want to enhance.

What are the new opportunities that you aim to tap in the Indian market?

Egger: We are excited about new forms of philanthropic investment, such as impact bonds. Philanthropic investors in the past would directly give money to NGOs but would struggle to see the outcomes from that. With impact bonds you create a financial instrument such as a bond where investors receive an interest or dividend. With these bonds you are bringing a financial instrument into the NGO world.

GIFT City is also an interesting construct. We are working to get into GIFT City. That will help attract more international investors. The concept of GIFT City is very attractive from an international investor point of view.