As a segment head with teams in Basel, Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland, Raymond Reitzer leads teams that deal with a specialized set of customer accounts. That only scratches the surface of his long career at UBS, however. He actually joined the firm more than 45 years ago, and his career has spanned a number of roles on two continents, so he knows a lot about thriving in the midst of change. He now reflects on the challenges and opportunities that shaped his path and kept him with us for more than four decades.
Let’s start with you: What’s your history with UBS?
I was a teen when I began my apprenticeship in April 1975. I worked as a teller in various branch offices in the St. Gallen region before being sent to Geneva to hone my French. Then it was on to five years in New York, first as a management trainee and then in my real love: the private clients business.
Both moves were unusual. Wealth management was not a great career path at the time. Most senior bankers were credit people, and lending was the place to be. I got the chance to work in private banking, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But even more, moving from a small town in Switzerland to a big metropolis was a transformative experience. Taking risks built resilience, but what really helped my career was learning to respect different cultures, approaches, and ways of doing things. Since then, I’ve primarily been working as a business project manager in Basel and Zurich, and, as I’m nearing retirement, I now work four days a week.
Looking back on 2020, I don’t think uncertainty was the deciding factor, but rather seeing change as the essence of life.
What are the keys to successfully navigating change, especially in these uncertain times?
It’s easier to say than to do, but the key is to embrace change, not fear it. In my experience, change is nearly always opportunity, even if it seems negative at first. I can now reflect on some stressful times in my career and think “that was terrible, but it gave me the push I needed to make a change.” Looking back on 2020, I don’t think uncertainty was the deciding factor, but rather seeing change as the essence of life. Early in my career, I discovered that change drives me to see disruptions as opportunities instead of barriers. UBS has seen a lot of growth and change in the last 40 years, and, with every challenge, the firm acted decisively and eventually came out ahead. The key was always our employees’ collaborative spirit, which also helped us tremendously in 2020. We all chipped in, made quick decisions and embraced change. And it worked. That’s not to say it was easy, but we adapted. We found other ways to build connections: in fact, I recently had my first “digital lunch” with a team member to talk through some career challenges.
What role does leadership play in this?
Leaders can instill so much energy and spark positive engagement, and in this respect, managers should always be role models, striving to encourage and enable every person on the team. I see that as one of my primary responsibilities, in fact. Beyond that, every leader needs a clear vision for where the team is going, the ability to authentically communicate it, and the drive to find the right people to achieve it. That approach helps people see change as a positive part of the journey.
Why did you stay with UBS for your entire career?
I’m passionate about my team and my job, and UBS has plenty of room for people like me who want to chart their own course. They also really care about their employees and they gave me lots of opportunities during my career, so it never felt like being with the same firm for more than 45 years.
Supporting our employees
Along with serving our clients, supporting our employees was our first priority in 2020. Highlights included:
- enabling 95 percent of employees to work at home, with enhanced safeguards for those remaining on site
- accelerated digitalization of processes across the firm, including the onboarding of new hires
- a new UBS ways-of-working platform and curriculum that equipped employees with new collaboration tools, training, and health and well-being strategies
- extra flexibility for employees to care for their families and resources to address evolving needs
- free access to employee assistance programs and an app-based mindfulness tool to help employees better manage challenges, uncertainty and stress
- a new peer-to-peer appreciation program to acknowledge exemplary collaboration, commitment and behavior