UBS CEO Memo Following $2.3B Loss: "The buck stops with me"

A 31-year-old rouge trader has caused close to $2.3 billion in losses for Swiss bank UBS. Unauthorized, speculative trades over three months apparently went unnoticed until the trader's recent arrest. UBS is expected to be able to absorb the hit, but Moody's is investigating the firm for a potential downgrade.     

In a memo to staff, UBS CEO Oswald J. Grübel acknowledges that people are "shocked and disappointed" and tells employees "our fundamental strengths as a firm remain intact." Grübel also encourages employees to report wrongdoing:

"Ultimately, the buck stops with me. I and the rest of senior management are responsible for dealing with wrongdoing. I only wish to remind everyone that all of us have a part to play in identifying and reporting wrongful behavior and conduct in the workplace. If you feel uncomfortable about informing your line manager, I urge you to use one of the other available channels for doing so."   Download memo from UBS CEO

Discussion Starters:

  • How could a loss of this magnitude have happened at a company like UBS?
  • How do you assess Grübel's memo to staff? How well does he handle the bad news? What arguments do you find most and least convincing in the message?