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UBS Wealth to Make Biggest Tech Overhaul Since Paine Webber

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UBS Group CEO Sergio Ermotti (Photo: AP)

UBS Group AG is pursuing the biggest overhaul of its systems at the wealth-management business in the Americas in almost two decades as it seeks to compete in the region.

The bank is the first major client to use new technology developed by Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc., which is known for processing trades, executives of both companies said by phone.

UBS is revamping back-office functions such as bookkeeping and trade settlements, while streamlining management of multiple accounts for ultra-wealthy clients.

“We don’t look at this just as a technology initiative, this is a major business transformation,” said Kate Newcomb, chief operating officer of UBS wealth management in the Americas. “This is the biggest thing we’ve probably done in years.”

UBS has been pushing for growth in the U.S., the country with the biggest share of the world’s millionaires, since its 2000 acquisition of retail brokerage Paine Webber Group for about $16 billion.

Rivals are multiplying, and firms including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. are investing in technology to boost assets under management.

UBS Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti’s cost-cutting goals at the wealth-management unit were called “ unambitious” by JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts. As he seeks to balance the cutbacks and the expansion, UBS plans to explain the strategy on Thursday during its first investor day in four years.

Newcomb said the strategy can help bring in new assets because it will help clients expand on global trading capabilities and get better performance reports across assets and accounts. It will also give them a clearer picture of a range of products including mortgages, annuities and brokerage accounts.

“This is a very significant investment,” said Tim Gokey, president of Broadridge. “This platform is going to create significant benefits for UBS and also for other clients.”


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