Fintech: UBS Prepares Digital «Attacker»

Picture: Shutterstock

Picture: Shutterstock

The Swiss banking giant is putting the finishing touches to a new digital service, known internally as the «Attacker» model. Research by reveals what is being prepared behind the scenes.

At a wealth management conference in Geneva last month Juerg Zeltner, head of wealth management at UBS, made an announcement that would have been more suited to a quiz show.

UBS was working on a new kind of digital advice model, which would operate without bankers in the flesh, he said. However, he added, the new model was not a robo-advisor. Zeltner gave no details about how and when the service would be introduced.

Relying on sources inside the bank, research by has uncovered for the first time what lies behind the nebulous digitisation project. Individuals familiar with the project say it could play a significant role in the future growth strategy of the bank.

Swift and Low-Cost

The new system is going by the name «Attacker» model inside the bank. It is due to go live at the latest by the beginning of 2017, if not sooner, according to sources close to the project. The preparations are under the personal purview of Zeltner.

The military nickname and the close involvement of Zeltner are not completely surprising. The goal of the service is to make inroads into markets in which UBS has few existing structures. Potential clients in these areas will be offered uncomplicated access to many UBS services online.

UBS apparently hasn't decided yet in which test market and with which client segment the new instrument will be introduced first. UBS did not give any further details on the project to

But the logic behind the Attacker model is known: UBS wealth management has to deliver savings of hundreds of millions of francs, while markets which have already been tapped are recently proving to be unprofitable.

Fintech Start-Ups

In this new growth area, the digital light model has emerged as the preferred system, and various fintech start-ups have already shown how quickly geographical expansion is possible. The Dutch robo-advisor Pritle, which recently arrived in Switzerland, is one example, or the Finnish mobile lender Ferratum, which is now offering its services throughout Europe.

To be sure, banks may have some ways to go into the digital age, as a study by online marketing company Namics on so-called «phony digitization» shows.

UBS has also already shown how an attack could be played out. Last April in Taiwan, the bank rolled out a service for wealthy clients that was accompanied by digital instruments.

This is enough grounds for competitors to fear the latest digitization efforts from UBS.


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