Why UBS should return to Manhattan

June 8, 2011

Charles Bagli has an interesting take on the news that UBS is considering moving back to Manhattan from Greenwich Stamford:

The move would be the latest sign that New York has regained its allure as a caldron for the young and creative.

Are investment bankers really “young and creative”? And if so, is that a good thing? My feeling is that they should be old and boring.

Still, even if Greenwich Stamford is more appealing to the old-and-boring set while Lower Manhattan is better for the young and creative, it makes all the sense in the world for UBS to be in Manhattan — and especially in Richard Rogers’s Tower 3 of the World Trade Center, the most architecturally interesting tower on the site.

For one thing, UBS will be closer to its clients, and the there’s also an “out of sight, out of mind” aspect to UBS. When I run down my mental list of big investment banks, I start downtown, with Goldman, Deutsche, and Citi, and then mentally move to midtown, with Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, JP Morgan, and Barclays. I often forget about UBS, just because it’s so far away; if I do remember it, it’s only because of its small outpost on Park Avenue.

I actually really like the UBS trading floor in Greenwich, a huge column-free space with soaring white ceilings and none of the claustrophobia one finds on other trading floors in New York. But there’s a good reason why every other major investment bank is in Manhattan. If UBS’s investment bank is to be taken seriously, especially if it’s an independent entity, it needs to be here too.


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