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Dress for Success at UBS

December 15, 2010

Swiss bank UBS may have managed to extricate itself from its troubles with the IRS by sharing the identities behind 4,000 or so of its client accounts with the authorities and paying a $780 million settlement to the Justice Department, but now it’s worried that some of its employees may have garlic breath and be showing a little too much of their hairy calves when they cross their legs.

The bank recently issued a stunningly detailed 43-page dress code to its employees in Switzerland, and the document has quickly crossed the Atlantic, replete with recommendations on everything from how to knot your necktie to match the shape of your face and body type to how often to schedule barber appointments (every four weeks) and store your suit on hangers with rounded shoulders that keep the suit from sagging.

Like a precise Swiss watch, the UBS male employee is encouraged to keep his facial hair from growing past a 5:00 shadow and prevent his underwear from showing through his slacks. Women are urged to keep their jackets buttoned when standing, but to unbutton them when they sit down, as if they suddenly might be called upon to anchor the local evening newscast.

UBS has also been in the news this week because two of its former bankers got caught helping wealthy clients evade U.S. taxes after going to work for other Swiss investment advisory firms. Perhaps the bank would do well to advise its employees not only to avoid eating onions with lunch, but how to obey the tax laws in the countries where it does business.

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