Zurich: UBS Group is extending charges on cash holdings to more of its customers, becoming the latest bank to pass on the euro region’s negative interest rates.
The world’s largest wealth manager introduced a charge of 0.6 per cent on euro-denominated accounts with cash holdings exceeding 1 million euros ($1.08 million), the bank told clients in a letter seen by Bloomberg. UBS confirmed the content of the letter.
"This charge reflects our costs resulting from the continuing extraordinarily low interest rates in the euro area and increased liquidity regulations,” the bank said in the letter. Clients who don’t agree to the conditions need to inform UBS and close their account by the end of April.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is trying to revive the euro-area economy by charging banks to keep money overnight at the ECB rather than lend or invest it, and by purchasing bonds to drive borrowing costs lower for companies.
UBS is among lenders grappling with the headwinds of negative interest rates and introducing fees for clients. In 2014 some banks started charging their clients for depositing large amounts of euros, passing on fees imposed by the European Central Bank, rather than paying interest.
UBS already passes on negative interest rates on very wealthy customers and some institutional clients in Switzerland where the Swiss National Bank recently held the interest rate on sight deposits at minus 0.75 per cent to curtail pressure on the Swiss franc. The bank has said it probably won’t pass on negative rates in Switzerland to retail clients.
The new UBS charge will be calculated and debited daily and applies to the total combined balance in multiple accounts held by the same customer. It doesn’t apply to euro accounts held in other investment advisory or discretionary mandates.
Another Swiss wealth manager, Julius Baer Group, is selectively charging euro clients, the bank said during its fourth-quarter earnings call.