two weeks of work + germany weekend

The last two weeks have been filled with work, travel, and lots of changes to my routine. Unfortunately all my news has been slow to make it to this space. Last weekend we were in Germany for a hammer-only meet in Fränkisch-Crumbach. (See Martin’s website for more about that.) I most enjoyed riding on the Autobahn in our rental VW Golf, catching up with our friend Sultana, staying in a very cute old guest house, and seeing so many people really enjoying watching the hammer throw. It was a lot of fun.

Martin and me in Fränkisch-Crumbach, Germany.

Martin and me in Fränkisch-Crumbach, Germany.

I started my new job at UBS on June 6th and since then I’ve had moments of working hard and hardly working. My first week of work was fairly quiet as my boss was away and there wasn’t too much for my co-workers to show me. I spent a lot of time doing web-based training on Legal & Compliance and HR topics online and probably have filled my quota for at least a year. In between e-learning, my two co-workers took some time to familiarize me with their work, the work of the team, and give me small tasks to get me going.

Our guest house in the German countryside.

Our guest house in the German countryside.

The US Person Compliance group at UBS consists of myself, an Australian lawyer who is married to a Swiss, a French-Swiss (from Geneva) married to a Brazilian, a Swiss law student, and our director, a German with an accounting background (I think). We also have an Austrian guy who has been temporarily working with our team for 9 months but he is leaving next week. I am only person that speaks only English, and I’ll have to definitely get going on German because I’m already having to read emails and documents in German and I cannot get my coworkers to translate forever.

Our tasks revolve our interpretation, advice, and processing documents related to UBS’s policies on US people (and Non-US people living in the US) as clients. This means that we spend a lot of time answering questions about really unique situations involving how people and entities are classified depending on their domicile, nationality/citizenship, connection to other US persons, or entity type. It is a little hard to describe, but I think the heart of the job is really advising the bank on how to interpret its own policy in unique situations, educating others about the policy, reporting on US-related client population in the bank, and processing documents related to change of domicile and client status. Luckily I seem to be in a good spot as the first US lawyer on the team and it looks like I’ll get to spend a good amount of time working directly with other UBS lawyers and the cross-border team. So far the job is interesting, and I’m looking forward to learning more about my tasks and projects each day.

I think biggest hurdles at work will not be the work itself, but instead (1) learning the never-ending list of acronyms UBS considered standardized (AML, GKC, USPP, etc.); (2) adjusting to the Swiss keyboard; and (3) trying to understand complex banking and finance products. As for typing, at the moment all my Ys are Zs and I do a lot of hunting and pecking when it comes to the symbols since they are completely re-arranged. (This is especially frustrating after I spend the whole day at work adjusting to the new arrangement and then I come home to grade bar review prep essays for Barbri and end up typing Zs for Ys.) It is probably a good exercise for my brain, but to try and type an alphanumeric passcode with a new coworker standing over you is not exactly easy.

Also, I should tell you a bit about my commute and the office itself. I take a bus to the tram each morning and then have a short walk to my building. The building is mostly UBS legal & compliance and we have a very open floor plan. Essentially my desk is a long table facing another desk with only a short “sound” barrier and our monitors between us. Next to my desk is another desk with the same setup. We do have plenty of space, but it is definitely a different working environment than a cubicle. Less private, but so far I don’t mind. We also have a Nespresso machine, fridge, and hot kettle near our desks, and are within walking distance of 3 UBS canteens (essentially nice cafeterias) with lots of options for lunch each day. The Swiss take lunch seriously, which I think is good, but very different from the bring your own lunch/skip lunch/work through lunch mentality in the US.

So, that is about all about my job so far. I have to say the best part is really getting to read my Kindle on the ride to/from there every day. I also enjoy the camaraderie of my team and seeing and talking to new people every day. The worst part so far is adjusting to my new schedule, and really, fitting in more exercise. I haven’t quite mustered the energy to wake up early enough to run before I leave (around 7:15am) and by the time I get home around 6:00/6:30pm Martin’s home, we’re both hungry, and I find lots of excuses not to run. This will have to change. (And I will find time to keep Home Schwiiz Home more updated as well.)

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