UBS: Advice Without Relationship Managers

UBS plans to introduce a wealth-management platform that works without relationship managers. The details of the plan aren't yet publicly known though.

Juerg Zeltner, the head of UBS' Wealth Management division, announced the new model for client advice today at the «Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit» in Genf.

Though the new platform will work without human beings, it isn't what is generally known as a robo-adviser, according to Zeltner. He prefers to call it an online asset manager. It will offer the clients of Switzerland's biggest bank the digital access to all of the institutes services.

Ready to Go in 2017

The digital asset manager will be ready at the start of 2017, Zeltner promised – without giving away any more details about the project.

Sources at UBS were a little more specific though. The new offering has been designed by Dirk Klee, chief operating officer at UBS Wealth Management, the bank told The WM Innovation Lab on Loewenplatz in Zurich was responsible for the design and a feasibility study. The laboratory is managed by Dave Bruno.

Wealth Management Is Struggling

UBS is testing the product, which works much like a robo-adviser, in a target market. The customer has to fill in a risk-profile form and based upon this received his tailor-made asset advise.

Further details weren't available. It is safe to assume that the offering will go beyond of what today's robo-advisers can do.

The planned digital offering comes as wealth management at UBS is struggling. Managers have a tough time with negative rates and customers reluctant to invest their assets at a time of hightened tension on the markets.

Do-It-Yourself Banking

«I just don't see this as an environment where you can credibly expect the top line to grow,» Zeltner told «Reuters». Margins in wealth management will decline further given the tough conditions and are unlikely to return to levels known before in the foreseeable future.

The online service will likely boost the customer base of UBS and positively impact the cost-income ratio as clients will do most of the work.


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