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UBS executive says investors hyperventilating over normal swings

[NEW YORK] The recent turbulence that's roiled financial markets shouldn't be feared - it's normal, according to the co-head of UBS Group's wealth-management unit.

"It's quite surprising how what would be considered a relatively normal amount of volatility, if you think back a decade or two ago, now we're hyperventilating about what are pretty normal market moves," Tom Naratil, co-president of global wealth management at UBS, said in an interview in New York. "It brings more opportunities for us. We're in the advice business, and uncertainty actually increases demand for advice."

The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, which measures price swings in equity markets, climbed in December to its highest monthly average since February. Gauges of volatility for bonds and currencies have also jumped. The S&P 500 plunged 4.6 per cent this week, the biggest decline since March.

Market tumult will probably persist through next year, UBS Global Wealth Management chief investment officer Mark Haefele wrote in a report Thursday. While global equities are attractive, investors need to plan for more turbulence, geopolitical tension and monetary policy tightening, he said.

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UBS is the world's biggest wealth manager, with US$2.4 trillion of assets under management. The division has an "extremely ambitious" plan to boost pretax profits by 10 to 15 per cent over the next three years, Mr Naratil said.