After a painful close to 2018 for most banks, when despite a surge in volatility most flow and prop desks suffered major losses, investors had great hopes for the start of 2019, if for no other reason than the 20% surge in the S&P500 in the past three months.
Alas, at least for the largest Swiss bank it was not meant to be.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley London European Financials conference, UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti gave a dismal outlook for his bank's prospects, saying conditions in the first three months have been among the most difficult in recent years.
The investment bank had "one of the worst first-quarter environments in recent history," Ermotti said Wednesday, blaming it on the lack of merger or IPO activity outside of the U.S. As a result, UBS investment banking revenues were down about one third compared with a year ago. The bank is slowing hiring and some IT projects as it seeks to make up for weak markets.