UBS is on track to roll out a new robo-advice platform geared to its “ultrawealthy” clientele next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The wirehouse wants to use the technology to attract new clients, free up advisors and provide a better digital experience, the newspaper says.
UBS is the latest major bank to reveal its plans to roll out a robo-advisor. It plans to partner with financial-technology maker SigFig to develop an advisor-led investment platform, the New York Times reports.
UBS plans to begin testing the technology with advisors in December, reports the Journal.
The “strategic partnership” between UBS and SigFig, announced this week, aims to develop tools that help UBS’ U.S. brokers provide advice on assets custodied by UBS as well as those held at other institutions, reports Banking Tech.
Under the deal, San Francisco-based SigFig will partner with UBS Financial, the Swiss bank’s U.S. brokerage business, to develop “technology and investment tools” beyond standard robo capabilities, Reuters reports — without explaining precisely what such technology would involve.
The race to catch up with frontrunners in the automated advice market has led some major players to buy existing robos and others to build their own. Last August BlackRock acquired FutureAdvisor, while Bank of America and Morgan Stanley say they’re choosing to build their own robos, Reuters writes.
The Swiss bank began looking for strategies to increase its robo capabilities under former boss Bob McCann, leading to a trip to Silicon Valley last year to meet with potential partners, reports Reuters.
But it was ultimately his successor — Tom Naratil, hired in January – who completed the search and decided not to buy a robo-advisor outright, the newswire reports.
With about 7,000 advisors, last quarter the wirehouse brought in higher than expected net new money – around $14.37 billion, as reported previously.
In a joint press release the Swiss bank and SigFig said UBS Financial has also made an equity investment in the West Coast firm. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
SigFig, founded in 2007, already boasts Bain Capital Ventures, Union Square Ventures and Nyca Partners as investors, according to Banking Tech.
SigFig CEO Mike Sha tells the New York Times that the UBS deal doesn’t prevent his firm signing similar agreements with other firms.
SigFig, which according to the Times was an early robo-advice leader that hasn’t garnered the widespread appeal of the likes of Betterment or Wealthfront, is choosing to provide technology to financial service firms rather than directly to investors.
As reported earlier, SigFig recently signed a deal to be one of several other robo offerings to broker-dealers and RIAs that work with Pershing, Bank of New York Mellon’s clearing and custody subsidiary.
SigFig signed its first bank customer, Mass.-based Cambridge Savings Bank, last month, according to the Times.