Less than six months after leaving UBS, ex-CEO Sergio Ermotti is now chairman of the world’s largest reinsurer. He signaled he will use the job as a platform to lobby for Switzerland as a business center.
The former CEO of UBS, Sergio Ermotti, had promised a blackout after leaving the Swiss wealth manager at the end of October. He resurfaced publicly on Friday, when 96.4 percent of Swiss Re investors backed him as the reinsurer’s next chairman, after a year of understudying with long-standing overseer Walter Kielholz.
«In my new role, I look forward to advocating for Switzerland as an attractive location for the insurance industry,» the 60-year-old Ticino native told shareholders in an annual meeting held online. Insurance represents as much of Swiss gross domestic product as Switzerland’s heavyweight banking sector, and also a more consistent one. 
Heavyweight Sector
Nearly every eleventh Swiss franc in Switzerland is generated by the wider financial industry, according to data compiled by research institute BAK Economics. Insurance alone generates 30.5 billion Swiss francs ($33 billion) annually, according to BAK.
Switzerland is the world’s third-largest location for reinsurance, Ermotti said – and he plans to use his new job to help make sure it stays that way. «That is why Swiss Re is actively engaged in ensuring that the Swiss financial center remains attractive and internationally competitive» in terms of framework conditions, the banker-turned-overseer said.
Leaving On A High
He’s earning far less than at UBS, where he regularly topped league tables as Europe’s highest-paid banker and left on a 13.3 million franc payday high. He earned just 151,000 francs for 2020 after his election last April; by comparison, Kielholz took home 3.8 million francs.
Ermotti remains a big UBS investor, with more than 4 million shares to his name (it translates to less than 0.3 percent of voting rights over the Swiss giant) – likely not including a big personal bet. His extracurricular activities include chairing the family’s Lugano-based Fondazione Ermotti and serving on the Swiss-American chamber of commerce’s board.
Apprentice To Overseer
While at UBS, he was widely viewed as sincere in his concern for Switzerland and its financial center when commenting on Swiss political matters of economic and business relevance, like immigration. Ermotti, who began his career in finance as an apprentice at Cornèr Bank in Lugano in 1975, is also on the board of the Global Apprenticeship Network – and a SPAC backer. 
The banking veteran spent the bulk of his career abroad including in London as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. The Swiss Re move represents the culmination of what Ermotti reportedly couldn’t clinch at UBS: the chairman’s seat. At the Swiss bank, long-standing chairman Axel Weber looks set to extend his tenure, instead of exiting next April. 

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