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UBS banks on hybrid digital platform to boost millionaire business

Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at a branch office in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at a branch office in Zurich

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss investment bank UBS <UBSG.S> is aiming to net $5 billion (3.7 billion pounds) in assets through international expansion of its digital portfolio management system, looking to attract millionaire clients through increased digitalisation.

After rowing back from an initial foray into robo-advisory services several years ago, the world's largest wealth manager is extending a recently-launched hybrid platform that allows clients to customise their portfolios digitally with the assistance of human advisers.

Under new Chief Executive Ralph Hamers, who took the helm after a six-year stint digitalising Dutch lender ING <INGA.AS>, the Swiss company's focus on technology is expected to increase in its core private banking business in an effort to boost revenue growth while managing costs.

Its My Way system has attracted $1 billion since launching to Swiss domestic clients in May, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. That milestone has been reached a year ahead of target, with the COVID-19 pandemic having encouraged use of online services.

"Since launching in Switzerland, we've never seen so many non-clients reaching out to us," Andre Spycher, head of sales management for UBS wealth business in Switzerland, told Reuters.

"We still see massive upside potential in Switzerland; and as the largest wealth manager in Asia, we see huge potential there, too."

After launches in Asia and with German and British international clients, the bank expects to make further European forays next year, he said.

"Clients are willing to pay a premium," Spycher said of My Way, adding that the application also lowered administrative and regulatory costs while speeding up internal processes, boosting profitability.

With initial investment beginning at 250,000 Swiss francs(206,729.31 pounds), the product has attracted interest from entrepreneurs and executives, as well as older wealthy clients who have thus far managed their own investment decisions and thereby reduced fees paid to the bank.

"They're clients who want to be involved in calling the shots, but also benefit from our expertise," Spycher said.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by David Goodman)