Most Influential Women in Finance: # 8, Suni Harford of UBS Asset Management
“Thrive not survive” – is the mantra Suni Harford, president of UBS Asset Management, adopted as her organization resisted the changes brought on by the pandemic.
Harford was quick to decide that UBS would not only tolerate the flexible working arrangements made necessary by the pandemic, but embrace them as the dawn of a new era in the way financial institutions do business.
And his business flourished did. In 2020, UBS Asset Management recorded a return on attributed equity of 74.2%, compared to 29.7% in 2019, even with its employees working remotely.
“Many companies have set themselves the goal of allowing remote working and ensuring that employees are not penalized for flexible working arrangements,” said Harford. “What we need is a much bigger goal to help our people … thrive through our newly discovered, technology-driven flexibility.”
“We are on the verge of a paradigm shift to attract and retain talent,” she continued. “I hope to seize the opportunity offered by our investment in technology and access to work from home. “
Harford felt the benefits of working remotely very personally, making up the three hours a day she had previously spent traveling to and from New York. She reinvested some of that time in UBS, but reserved some of it for herself, embracing painting as a new hobby during pandemic lockdowns.
Most Influential Women in Finance 2020: Suni Harford
Most Influential Women in Finance 2019: Suni Harford
She acknowledged the increased productivity that flexible working arrangements and a broader focus on employee well-being have brought to UBS, and says she hopes these benefits will eventually be recognized across the industry.
“Although 18 months have been extremely difficult, I believe that all companies and individuals will learn lessons here that will be intentionally maintained in the future,” she said. “The pandemic has (…) highlighted the well-being of employees. Continuing to focus on the health and safety of our people around the world is something that will continue long after the return to the “new normal”. “