UBS beats forecasts despite 'continued macroeconomic, geopolitical and market headwinds'

UBS delivered a nice surprise for investors on Friday, with third-quarter profit beating forecasts.

The Swiss investment bank made an adjusted profit of SwFr 1.3 billion (£1 billion) in the three months to the end of September, above analysts consensus of SwFr 1.1 billion (£910 million).

UBS’ Wealth Management arm performed particularly strongly, recording a pre-tax profit of SwFr 1 billion.

The investment bank’s US Wealth Management arm enjoyed a record adjusted pre-tax profit of $367 million (£301.7 million), an increase of $80 million (£65.7 million) from the third quarter of 2015.

Sergio P. Ermotti, the bank’s CEO, said in the results statement: “We delivered a strong performance across our businesses, despite seasonality and continued macroeconomic, geopolitical and market headwinds. Our strong position allows us to focus on helping our clients navigate the current environment. We will continue to execute with discipline and manage risk and resources prudently.”

Ermotti doesn’t specify what he means by “macroeconomic, geopolitical and market headwinds” but it’s easy to guess: negative interest rates, Brexit, the uncertainty surrounding the US election, volatile markets — take your pick.

The bank made SwFr 1.5 billion (£1.2 billion) of cost savings for the year in the quarter, part of its plan to reach SwFr 2.1 billion (£1.7 billion) of cost savings by the end of 2017.

Despite the better-than-expected results, UBS believes there are tough times ahead and says in its outlook statement:

“Underlying macroeconomic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions continued to contribute to client risk aversion and generally low transaction volumes. Lower than anticipated and negative interest rates still present considerable headwinds. These conditions are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.”

UBS recently launched a new online “roboadvisor” called SmartWealth aimed at bringing its wealth management services to a new generation as it looks to navigate the fast-changing market.

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