UBS robo-advice service to shun human intervention

UBS robo-advice service to shun human intervention

Clients of UBS SmartWealth will not be able to speak to an adviser, the service’s co-head has said.

Nick Middleton said the service would be entirely online through a series of questionnaires.

Yesterday the Swiss bank said it would be launching a robo-advice service next month.

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It will be piloted from November with a full launch next year, before being rolled out to other countries.

Mr Middleton said: “We will have a client management team if you get stuck but you cannot speak to anyone as regards the advice.

“When you go through the on-boarding process we ask you for your total wealth, your total income and your total annual expenditure, we ask you how long you want to be invested for and the main themes behind your investment.”

He said the service would also ask behavioural questions such as how the clients feel when they lose money before recommending a strategy which will be available in either active or passive form.

Mr Middleton said: “We will obviously keep people up to date in terms of what we are doing with portfolio construction and our views on the markets.

“On an annual basis we will ask people to go back through the suitability engine to check that what we have recommended is still suitable, and if their employment status changes or the amount of money they invest suddenly exceeds what they said they would invest.”

UBS will charge investors 1 per cent for investment advice, platform administration and the cost of the underlying funds if they buy a portfolio of passive funds or 1.7 per cent if they buy active funds.

The service has a minimum investment of £15,000 either by opening a new Isa or transferring existing ones to UBS and it will offer five investment strategies.

But Mr Middleton added that the SmartWealth service is not targeted at mass-market retail consumers like other robo-advice platforms.

He said: “We want to get into our potential future high-net worth clients’ lives much earlier.

“Our target marketplace is probably people who have got around £100,000 of investable wealth but they are probably unlikely to put all of it with us. We thought the Isa would be something people would be interested in as a trial.”