His peers have other things to do: apologizing for the excesses of the 1990s, like David Komansky at Merrill Lynch; cutting back on excessive bull market spending, like John Mack at Credit Suisse First Boston; or dealing with sputtering businesses and querulous executives, like Bill Harrison at J.P. Morgan Chase.
Costas, by contrast, has it easy. He merely has to find a way to push aside more established rivals to break into the ranks of the top global investment banks. It's doubtful, though, that UBS can rise as quickly as the 45-year-old Costas has. Hired in 1996 from CSFB, where he was co-head of global fixed income, the New Jersey native was soon promoted to head U.S. fixed income at Warburg. Less than a year later, he was global head of that unit. In December 1999 he became president and COO; two years later, after UBS group president Luqman Arnold was ousted and Warburg CEO Markus Granziol was shunted aside with the nominal title of chairman, Costas was named CEO. Since Granziol's departure last month, Costas has added the chairman title and laid claim to undisputed leadership of the investment bank.
He is optimistic about the near term. "Our corporate market share has gone from 3 percent to 4 percent," he says. "Choppy markets are a great environment for us to continue to pick up share."