2 min read June 2022 — UBS is on the bleeding edge of intertwining ESG with investment decisions. In an interview with Invest:, Managing Director of the Pennsylvania/Southern New Jersey Market for UBS Ted Durkin discussed the transition of ESG from a buzzword to necessity, as well as a variety of topics ranging from the future of work to Philadelphia’s next steps in fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
What makes Philadelphia a great place to reside and do business?
Philadelphia is a wonderful community and city with a diversity of talent. While we are one of the largest cities in the country, Philadelphia has a small-town feel. In times of need, and for opportunities, the community comes together rapidly. People take pride in our city. In any industry you can get very creative and achieve major success in this Greater Philadelphia area. We also have a relatively reasonable cost of living compared to other parts of the country. When you take the people, opportunity and the quality of life, Philadelphia is a special community.
What does the future of work look like at UBS?
It’s a plan in motion, and we’re treating people like adults. The solution comes from individual conversations with our employees and teams, figuring out how they operate best. How one team operates could be very different from how another team feels they should operate. As long as we maintain a high level of client commitment, working environments are malleable. That said, real estate across the board is going to become more open. We probably won’t be at 100% occupancy on any day of the week, but we’re also not going to be at 0% occupancy. We need to shift from a pandemic response into a quality of life focus. Some people are realizing that they are more efficient without a commute and hitting rush-hour traffic. On the other hand, the energy we gain from each other in-person can’t be dismissed.
How does demand for your guidance today compare to that in 2019?
Demand for our financial advisors and guidance is up considerably since 2019, and there are a lot of reasons for that. When the world was forced to go remote there was a rush to quality, and our teams are simply exceptional. There is also a great deal of change occurring within the markets. For example, there is a huge wave of succession planning and transition among small and mid-sized businesses from one generation to another. This requires a great deal of advance planning, segmentation and thoughtfulness. There is really, really a lot of private equity and banking money on the sidelines and pent-up demand to unlock real value. I believe our financial advisors sit and stand at the center of manifesting this capital into opportunities for our clients.
How are you adapting your offerings to an era of ESG?
ESG is the fastest growing individual segment in our firm and in the industry. We are a distinct leader in this space worldwide. We have one of the highest saturation levels in the ESG market compared to peers; we put our money where our mouth is. Virtually every decision we make is centered around principles such as ESG and DE&I. 10 years ago, ESG was a buzzword. It’s now been proven that you do not sacrifice performance while investing alongside your values. In fact, you may increase your performance. While it’s not a science, firms are recogniznig the need to move in this direction.
What are Philadelphia’s next steps in fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce?
The first word that comes to mind is focus. Without focus and true commitment, not lip service, things don’t change. We are focused and committed in making sure that we represent what society looks like, acts like and feels like on a go-forward basis. I am privileged to be able to work with the Chamber as one example of committing to fostering a diverse workforce. We need to make sure we are transparent about this. This isn’t a secret, it’s overt and is something that’s important. We also shouldn’t be focusing simply on “doing the right thing.” There is a business case for building a diverse workforce. You become more profitable when you are more ESG focused and have a diverse workforce. Of course, we have to go further than just hiring. We need to make people feel welcomed and part of the community.
What will it take for cryptocurrencies to become a viable investment option for established institutions?
There is so much research being done in this area. Just as the safety of our employees is critical, the safety of our clients is our primary responsibility. We can’t yet say cryptocurrencies are established, monetary functions. We are doing our due diligence in ensuring that these are sensible long-term investments, not something that’s here today and gone tomorrow. If something increases in price by hundreds or even thousands of percentiles in a short period of time, that raises concerns as to what is real. That said, there is a lot of momentum and very intelligent people that are supportive of cryptocurrencies.
For more information, visit: