Less than one month after he was given a new role as chairman of the investment bank at UBS, Alex Wilmot-Sitwell has left the firm to join the flow of former colleagues who have moved across to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
However, unlike many of the former UBS bankers who are now putting their stamp on BoA Merrill in Asia, Wilmot-Sitwell is heading for London and a non-Asia-focused role.
An internal announcement about the hire signed by BoA Merrill’s co-chief operating officer, Tom Montag, said Wilmot-Sitwell is joining the bank in the coming months as president for Europe and emerging markets (excluding Asia), which were referred to as “vital regions”. He will also become part of Montag’s leadership team.
Wilmot-Sitwell will effectively take over part of the job that was left vacant when Andrea Orcel left BoA Merrill in March — ironically to join UBS. At the time of his departure, Orcel was executive chairman of BoA Merrill, as well as president of emerging markets (ex-Asia).
In this new role, Wilmot-Sitwell will report directly to Montag and will be responsible for ensuring that BoA Merrill’s integrated strategy to manage and drive the development of its businesses across Europe and emerging markets is “effectively executed”, the announcement said. “He will also provide leadership for the line of business heads and support partners to maintain our strong regional focus on cross-platform risk control, corporate governance, regulatory and community relations,” added Montag.
Wilmot-Sitwell has worked in investment banking for almost 30 years and joined UBS in 1995. His departure will come as another blow for the Swiss bank, which has lost a number of bankers in the past couple of years, including Matthew Koder, former head of global capital markets, who left in March 2011 — also heading for BoA Merrill. Koder was promoted to president for Asia-Pacific in early March this year and since he joined the US firm he has lured a number of former UBS colleagues to join him in various key roles in Asia-Pacific.
Wilmot-Sitwell was named co-CEO of UBS investment bank, which incorporates the investment banking business as well as equities and fixed-income sales and trading, in April 2009, but in November 2010 he left London for Hong Kong to become co-CEO for UBS in Asia-Pacific.
In late March this year, UBS poached Orcel from BoA Merrill to become co-CEO of its investment bank alongside Carsten Kengeter and in connection with that move it announced that Wilmot-Sitwell would step down as co-CEO for Asia-Pacific to instead become chairman of the investment bank, starting from April 1.
At the time, the reshuffle was described as a way to enable Wilmot-Sitwell to return to a client-facing role, which plays to his key strengths as one of the bank’s most senior client relationship bankers. Sources noted that he loves working with clients and is an absolute natural at the job. However, the swap of a co-CEO job for an entire region for a position as chairman of the investment bank, a division that he had previous led as co-CEO, did look like a sideways move at best — a view that was compounded by the fact that UBS said he would also step down from the group executive board. While his role would be a global one, Wilmot-Sitwell was to remain based in Hong Kong.
Whether his decision to move to BoA Merrill may have sprung from that reshuffle or not, it is notable that his departure comes just one month after it was announced.
A UBS spokesman confirmed that Wilmot-Sitwell had resigned from the bank yesterday, but declined to comment beyond that.
In his announcement of the hire, Montag noted that Wilmot-Sitwell brings with him “tremendous global insight, proven senior leadership ability and extensive client relationships”.
Wilmot-Sitwell’s previous roles at UBS include chairman and CEO of Europe, Middle East and Africa (Emea), and joint global head of the investment banking department. His first job at the bank was head of corporate finance in South Africa.
Koder’s hires since he joined BoA Merrill include James Fleming, a former head of equity syndicate for the Americas and head of ECM for Southeast Asia at UBS, who is now co-head of global capital markets for Asia-Pacific at BoA Merrill; and Rodney Ward, who at the time of his departure from UBS earlier this month was president of Asia investment banking. Ward is set to join BoA Merrill as chairman of Asia-Pacific global corporate and investment banking (GCIB) by July at the latest.