As a Wealthy Manager, UBS is world renowned and the largest by far. This is no doubt helped by being from Switzerland, the country with the largest GDP per capita and one of the largest money laundering centres in the world.
As an investment bank however, UBS has always played catch up in a game which less about numbers by about how many very smart employees you have working for you. The chasing after recognition in investment banking has brought several spectacular disasters because it always comes late and ends picking up the worst customers, riskiest plays et al. Hence LTCM, for which it took a big hit in 1998; DRCM (a hedge fund venture) for which it had to take a hit earlier this year.
Now with the sub-prime market issue, its taken the heaviest it so far leading to a huge loss in Q3. As a result, they've fired their head of investment banking, a very promising Welshman by the name Huw Jenkins and its CFO. This while the real players in the sub-prime and derivatives market, Lehman, Goldman Sachs got away with just a splash of the mud. Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and a host UK banks are all rumoured to have suffered.
There is also a Kenyan angle here. I'd say upto 50% of the real estate investments in Kenya by the diaspora have been financed by mortgage equity. One can only hope house prices do recover despite the tighter credit conditions.