COO OF THE YEAR
GEOFFROY DE RIDDER, UBS
Amidst seismic regulatory upheaval, fierce market competition and industry-wide disruption, the pursuit of greater business efficiency and sustainability has only intensified. Now more than ever, Asia’s private banks depend on the chief operating officer as pivotal to the success of a private banking business, but too often this proffers a busted flush.
And so the quest to identify such an exceptional practitioner is not so easy. Often surreptitious in nature, the COO is found toiling away in the background, knee-deep in challenges pertaining to the complexities of cost-income ratios, an HR quagmire and a maze of P&Ls of gargantuan proportion. At the same time, the individual is tasked with tracking technology trends, compliance issues and cultural transformations.
Suffice to say, the COO stands away from the CEO’s spotlight and sits firmly at the centre of all decisions needed to run a tight and lean organisation. It is for these reasons that for the first time, Asian Private Banker has decided to create the COO of the Year Award.
In 2017, one individual stood out from his peers, excelling in his ability to successfully transform the firm’s operations across a range of processes – Geoffroy de Ridder, UBS Wealth Management’s former APAC COO.
Many practitioners faced the daunting and pressing task of streamlining a number of operations onto one platform and ultimately struggled to adhere to go-live timelines. De Ridder was the rare exception in 2017. He drove UBS Wealth Management’s One Wealth Management Platform project smoothly in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Impressively, the US$1 billion project did not encounter a single delay, going live on time. This is no small feat when considering it involved 33,000 hours of training, 20,000 test cases, 20 billion data record transfers, and relationship managers (RMs) clocking in the night before the go-live to review their client accounts on the new system.
De Ridder also oversaw a number of technological innovations in 2017, ensuring that UBS Wealth Management remained well ahead of the pack on all matters digital. For example, the Swiss manager of wealth extended its automated advice offering, UBS Advice, onto its mobile app, allowing clients to receive push notifications and to communicate with its bankers through a chat functionality. UBS Wealth Management also rolled out its artificial intelligence-enabled offering to give clients advice based on portfolio holdings.
As a result, de Ridder managed to strike the perfect balance between two important mandates of a COO – running the bank and changing the bank – making him Asian Private Banker’s COO of the Year for 2017.
“This award is not only a personal honor, but a recognition of the strong platform that we have built at UBS as well as the talented and dedicated colleagues that I have the privilege of working with. 2017 was truly a year of transformation as we took steps to unify and advance our infrastructure for the future. Our commitment to giving our clients the best experience and upholding our rigorous regulatory standards is firm, and we will continue to drive innovation and operational excellence in our business model.”