Alejandro VELEZ: "UBS Monaco is the center of gravity for international clients with complex needs"

2024 02 23 Alejandro VELEZ

Managing Director of UBS Monaco, Alejandro VELEZ has extensive international experience and a solid understanding of the financial world. He talks to us about UBS Monaco's ambitions, and his convictions in terms of sustainable investment.

How would you describe your career?

After working for Deutsche Bank, I joined UBS in 2013, in Zurich, as manager of the Latin America Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) segment. In 2017, UBS entrusted me with the management of all wealth management activities in this part of the world; I was also involved in the acquisition of Consenso, Brazil's largest Multi Family Office. In 2018, my responsibility was extended to the UHNW and GFO segment: Latin America, USA and Europe. In 2021, UBS is entrusting me with the General Management of Monaco, as well as the management of Financial Intermediaries in Europe (Global FIM Europe).

What was your ambition for the bank in the Principality, and what projects did you develop?

We have a very ambitious program to become a major partner of the Principality, in a sustainable and profitable way. UBS Monaco is an employer with a reputation for recruiting the best talent, capable of providing the most appropriate solutions for our customers. The integration of Crédit Suisse has accelerated some of our projects and enhanced our customer offering, but we have always focused our ambition on three areas.

First and foremost, customer services. We set up the equivalent of VEFA (Vente en l'Etat Future d'Achèvement) to extend mortgages in the Mareterra and Testimonio projects. We increased our financing capacity to offer more mortgages in Monaco and on the Côte d'Azur. We granted customized loans to holding companies of Monegasque residents requiring a differentiated approach, or to customers wishing to acquire aircraft and yachts.
UBS is a partner of choice for families with sophisticated and complex needs. We focus on clients with the most demanding requirements, in order to serve them in their best interests. It's worth remembering that 50%; 1 in 2 billionaires worldwide, place their trust in UBS!
In addition, we are continuing the process of implementing an augmented digital banking solution for our customers, and are currently modernizing our entire technological system.

Are you talking about a lasting partnership with the Principality?

That's our second objective. We work closely with the Prince Albert II Foundation to support its efforts to improve the protection and conservation of the Pelagos* Sanctuary and the mammals that live there.
We also support many of the Principality's major events: the F1 Grand Prix, the Historic Grand Prix, the Monaco Yacht Show, etc. We are also the main partner of the Yacht Club de Monaco.

What is your strategy for attracting talent?

To be an irreproachable, high-performance employer: that's our third ambition.
We have put an end to pay inequality between men and women by ensuring that all women on the site receive the same remuneration as men for the same position.
We are multiplying the social benefits offered to all our employees: we are the first bank to offer a "Retirement Savings Plan" to all.
We are helping to improve the mobility of our teams, by increasing reimbursements for public transport, electric bicycles and by paying for the rental of hybrid and electric vehicles.
We are nearing completion of our new building near the Place du Casino, known as GB2. This is the first corporate building entirely dedicated to a bank to have been awarded the most demanding "gold" standard for sustainable development. For the well-being of our teams and our customers.

UBS affirms its preference for responsible investment, without sacrificing performance. How can we measure the impact of these investments and guard against greenwashing?

UBS has made sustainable investment its preferred choice for private clients.
As the world's leading wealth manager, we feel a sense of responsibility to make our contribution to the positive evolution of our environment. We have the capital, the solutions and the expertise to make a difference on a global scale. These are not just words. We put our money where our mouth is. In 2017, we pledged to support our clients by investing USD 5 billion in impact investments over the next five years, to help bridge the financing gaps needed to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our teams of sustainable investment experts are mobilized alongside our customers to help them do more and better for their wealth and for the world.

There are three main ways to invest sustainably:

  • Exclusion: Exclude from the portfolio companies and sectors that do not reflect your values.
  • Integration: Integrating environmental, social and corporate governance factors into a portfolio to enhance returns and reduce risk.
  • Impact Investing: Investing with the intention of generating a measurable environmental and social impact, in addition to a financial return.

So, what are the steps to follow?

The first step is to analyze your portfolio. Is it sustainable?
Many investors don't realize that they have sustainable investments in their portfolio. Ask your advisor if this is the case and how you can go even further.
Choosing the right values is the second step. Think about what's important to you.
Do you want to eliminate pollution? Fight climate change? Contribute to children's education? UBS helps investors identify these needs and get started.
Finally, invest according to your sensibility.

Decide whether you want to :

  • exclude companies whose values differ from your own
  • Include companies that reflect your values
  • Select investments with a visible impact

To increase the impact of our customers' investments, you offer a wide range of choices?

Choices and opportunities, such as green bonds and environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds, the performance of which is of course measurable.
But changing the world isn't just about investing sustainably. It's about devoting your time and energy to solving the problems you're passionate about. The UBS Optimus Foundation supports global youth projects. Our philanthropy experts can advise our clients on how best to invest in this direction.

What are your latest philanthropic initiatives?

First of all, philanthropy goes fine beyond one-off actions. Through our UBS Optimus teams, we advise our clients, set up foundations on their behalf, and initiate and implement projects of all sizes.

To answer your question, there are many: our participation in the Monaco Ocean Week in March 2023.
A UBS event on June 23 focusing on the social impact of UBS / Natural Based Solution, with a panel of international experts. Our customers also gave testimonials, and the UBS sustainability report was presented to them.

We participate in various events in the Principality, such as the Blue Marine Foundation event at the Yacht Club, where we systematically invite our clients and develop partnerships.
UBS Monaco is officially represented at the Smart Marina Prize Giving Ceremony*, where we present the Innovation Award.

We promote events and support our clients in their projects through our foundation - the UBS Optimus Foundation, a matching mechanism that doubles donations. We've helped some customers set up their own Foundation, launched an African project in Tanzania for others, worked with a family of deaf-mute children in Romania, and so on.

Over the past three years, you've been able to assess the Principality's strengths and weaknesses. What have you learned?

It's a wonderful place to do business, financial or otherwise. As Europe's biggest bank and the world's largest wealth manager, Monaco's appeal to international clients works in our favor. We want to help customers who are moving to the Principality, or who want to buy property in the south of France, to realize their financial ambitions. Banking is our business, and the specific territory of Monaco offers us an ideal setting for establishing personal contact with our customers. We offer the best of an international financial group, with the added level of connectivity and personalized attention of a local bank. Monaco offers the best of both worlds, and that's unique in the UBS sphere.

How do you convince your clients of the wealth management expertise they can find in Monaco?

UBS is first and foremost an asset manager. The strength of our global wealth management expertise, with multicultural and multilingual employees on site, combined with the advantages of security, a strong healthcare system, educational choices for young family members, multicultural and gastronomic events, proximity to airports and Monaco's flexible tax system, allows UBS Monaco to be the center of gravity for large clients who want to settle in the region and need a solution to their complex needs. In addition, UBS is one of the best capitalized banks in the world; a bank that is very strong and solid globally, but also very attentive locally to its most demanding clients who also want security and peace of mind.



*Pelagos is an 87,500-metre-long stretch of sea off the coast of Monaco, between Italy and France.
**Smart Marina" is a competition for start-ups working on decarbonizing the yachting industry and its infrastructures.