UBS (UBS) said Monday that it is working with SigFig to roll out more financial technology to its roughly 7,000 advisors in the Americas and their clients.
SigFig, a wealth management tech firm that offers robo-advisory services, plans to build and customize digital tools and services to “complement their [advisors’] expertise and enhance their clients’ digital experience” on mobile and other devices. Plans include integrating information on assets held outside UBS onto one platform, and no robo-advisor offering is on the table.
UBS Wealth Management Americas has made an equity investment in SigFig, and the two firms are forming an Advisor Technology Research and Innovation Lab as a forum for advisors and others.
“This alliance will strengthen our advisors’ ability to provide outstanding client experiences and outcomes by combining our expertise in relationships and personalized advice with SigFig’s skills in technology, data science, design and development,” said Tom Naratil, president of UBS Americas, in a statement.
The news comes several weeks after Morgan Stanley (MS) tapped Naureen Hassan to become its chief digital officer. At Schwab (SCHW), Hassan led the firm’s efforts to launch robo-offerings to both advisors and retail clients.
At a recent Hearsay Social conference in San Francisco, she explained that the key challenge for broker-dealers and other financial firms is meeting the expectations of both advisors and clients – not competing with robo offerings.
“The financial technology revolution … is a myth. It’s just another step in the continual evolution” of the business, Hassan said.
Morgan Stanley has four focus areas for its digital goals: marketing, digitized process, next-gen products and client experience. The wirehouse is using data and technology more “to understand our clients better, so the advisors can take action,” she says, and it plans to innovate so clients can best work with advisors online and on mobile devices.
At its independent advisor conference in late-April, Raymond James (RJF) outlined the next wave of tech updates it plans to give advisors, including more mobile tools. For several years, it has relied on an advisory council for reps to share their views on technology development and priorities for innovation.
But UBS sees the partnership with a Bay Area tech firm as putting it ahead of the crowd.
“We believe collaborating with SigFig will be the fastest, most cost-efficient route to delivering great technology and an enhanced advisor and client experience,” the company said in a statement.
“While others have opted to build technology internally, the WMA business in partnership with our technology team, made the determination that SigFig could do a better job at developing these tools than we could, especially in the area of user interfaces and speed to market,” it explained. “This is a great example of our commitment to open architecture in order to deliver the best client solutions and experience possible.”
UBS Wealth Management Americas has invested assets of $1.05 trillion. Assets per advisor stand at $147 million.
The level of average yearly fees and commissions per rep is now $1,064,000. This tops the average 12-month production levels reported by Merrill Lynch (BAC) of $983,000 and Morgan Stanley of $923,000 for the first quarter of 2016.
— Check out UBS Boosts Bonuses for Top Teams in 2016 on ThinkAdvisor.