UBS Plans to Unveil Easier Client Onboarding Digital Tool for FAs in 2021

By Miriam Rozen October 23, 2020

UBS plans to introduce in 2021 a suite of new technology tools for its financial advisors, chief financial officer Kirt Gardner said this week.

The new tools — expected in the second half of next year — will include technology that will allow FAs to more easily onboard their clients digitally, Gardner told stock analysts on Tuesday during a call after the bank released third quarter earnings.

The innovation is happening thanks to UBS’ technology development cost-sharing pact with Broadridge Financial Solutions, Gardner said.

Earlier this month, executives from Bank of America / Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Envestnet discussed the importance of digital onboarding on a webcast organized by Money Management Institute, entitled “The Wealth Management Platform of the Future.”

“The whole concept of end-to-end digital onboarding is powerful,” Kabir Sethi, managing director and head of digital wealth management at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, said during the MMI webcast.

Digital client onboarding was “a lot less sexy” than other wealth management technology developments, but it ranked high on advisors’ priority list, Sethi said.

Other panelists on the webcast, including Molly Weiss, head of product management at Envestnet, agreed.

“That’s probably the one thing that everybody emphatically agrees with: the onboarding process should not be as painful as it has been in the past,” Weiss said.

If an advisor can open an account digitally and instantly, “that’s ultimately going to make them look better,” she added.

Gardner said UBS has already deployed some new technology tools developed because of its agreement with Broadridge.

Starting this quarter, UBS was able to move to an average daily balance methodology for calculating advisory fees because of Broadridge-developed technology, Gardner said. UBS previously calculated account fees on a quarterly basis at the start of each quarter, and then modified them at the end of each quarter taking into account contributions and withdrawals that occurred in the preceding three months.

The future technology developments Broadridge and UBS intend to unveil will give the bank’s financial advisors “much more flexibility” and help the bank with compliance, Gardner said.

The technology innovation will also allow UBS to retire legacy systems, which will lead to additional cost savings, Gardner said.

“These new platforms will reduce our overall IT [information technology] infrastructure costs,” he said. As part of a larger Broadridge “ecosystem,” UBS aims to make mandated regulatory changes with much more ease than it has in the past, he added.

UBS and Broadridge also expect to market the new technology — specifically advisor platforms — to “peers in the market,” Gardner said. Those sales will ultimately subsidize some of the technology development costs for UBS, he said.

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