At UBS, she worked high up in risk control and was also tasked with investigating a rape case. Now she has moved to reinsurer Swiss Re, where she will be reunited with her former boss.
Head internal audit doesn’t sound spectacular: but the position, which Ursula La Roche, according to her Linkedin profile, holds at reinsurer Swiss Re since the start of this week, has taken on great importance in recent years.
Since strong risk control and compliance have become regulatory requirements in the financial industry, and companies themselves have massively upgraded internal monitoring and controls over their employees, auditors have become a kind of safety net. They intervene ahead of time where the external auditors might find a fly in the ointment – or more – and accuse the company of errors or shortcomings in corporate governance, internal controls, and accounting processes.
Back to Patrick Raaflaub
At a reinsurer like Swiss Re, whose core business is risk management, the role of the head of internal audit is, therefore, a key position. It may be no coincidence that the chief risk officer at Swiss Re, Patrick Raaflaub, now has a close associate in Ursula La Roche.
The connection goes back to their stint at Swiss regulator Finma. Raaflaub had been the director there from 2008 to 2014. La Roche came to Finma in early 2011 from exchange operator SIX, where she was chief financial officer, to oversee UBS. The Basel native apparently did the job so well that she moved to the big bank at the beginning of 2015. Raaflaub had left Finma for Swiss Re shortly before.
Member of Ermotti’s «Praetorian Guard»
La Roche initially started in the audit department of UBS’ wealth management and two years later was given a new task: head group investigations. More generally, La Roche advanced to become the top detective within UBS. The promotion to group managing director, the «Praetorian Guard» under former CEO Sergio Ermotti, an elite squad of more than 100 high-ranking managers.
As head of investigations, La Roche led all the regional detective teams in Zurich, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, and New York, defined guidelines and processes, and was also responsible for the «whistleblowers». She reported directly to Ermotti in this regard.
Rape Case
In that role, La Roche also dealt with the rape case in London in 2018, in which a female intern was the victim of a sexual assault by her supervisor at UBS.
In dealing with the case, the big bank apparently made some serious mistakes, which the rape victim carried to the public. In the meantime, the British financial regulator FCA also dealt with the case.
La Roche was in direct contact with the victim and with the lawyers involved in the investigation in order to smooth the waters and learn lessons for UBS from the case. It was not until two years later that UBS reached an out-of-court settlement with the victim after the latter had initially filed a lawsuit against the big bank.
CEO Also Left for Swiss Re
In the meantime, La Roche had passed on her job as head of investigations to Emma Molvidson and, as chief operating officer compliance and operational risk, had turned her attention to more organizational issues, including the automation and digitization of tasks and areas. Her boss in this role was Markus Ronner, whom Ermotti had brought onto the UBS executive board in 2018.
Ermotti left UBS a few months before La Roche – but the direction is the same. He will become chairman of the board of Swiss Re.

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