Beleaguered UBS tries to dress up its image

By Reuters
Posted Dec. 14, 2010 at 12:20 p.m.

UBS is aiming to polish its tarnished image with a new dress code, as it seeks to regain the faith of retail clients after posting the biggest loss in Swiss corporate history during the financial crisis.

A 52-page internal document seen by Reuters advises customer-facing staff in five pilot scheme branches on how to make a good impression with customers by choosing flesh-colored underwear and stockings and avoiding smelly foods and tobacco.

The dress code, being tested for possible rollout to around 1,500 staff in all 300 Swiss branches, tells female employees that wearing make-up gives the impression of competence and warns of the dangers of wearing too-tight underwear and shoes.

The drive to smarten up staff is part of a wider campaign to improve the Swiss public’s perception of the country’s top bank, bailed out by the government after writing down more than 50 billion Swiss francs ($51.67 billion) of toxic assets.

Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel, a big motor racing fan, is banking on a Formula 1 sponsorship deal to attract clients in growing wealth management markets such as Asia and South America.

But the bank pulled a reference to architect Le Corbusier from a high-profile advertising launch using famous people from history, after it drew criticism from Jewish campaigners unsettled by Le Corbusier’s reputedly anti-Semitic opinions.

The new dress code was written as a guide for those people attending corporate events who intermittently worked for the bank, said UBS spokesman Jean-Raphael Fontannaz.

“They are meant as recommendations and not as hard and fast rules,” Fontannaz said. “It remains to be decided whether the guidelines will be extended to all 300 Swiss branches, depending on how they are received by staff in the five pilot branches.”

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One comment:

  1. Garry Dec. 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    They want their employees wearing “flesh-colored underwear”?
    Does that mean they’re going to also be wearing see through blouses & skirts?