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Tuesday 25 June 2019


UBS closes robo-advisor platform

Written by Peter Walker

UBS has closed its SmartWealth digital financial advice platform and is selling off the technology to US automated advice firm SigFig.

A message on the website says that the service, which only launched in March 2017, is closed to new customers.

Existing customers can still log in, but in a statement UBS explained that while it was “satisfied” with commercial progress, “at this time we believe the near-term potential is limited and have therefore decided to close our digital-only offering in the UK”.

SmartWealth was aimed at bringing wealth management to younger clients, using proprietary digital technology for real-time online advice, and requiring a minimum investment of £15,000.

It recommended suitable investment strategy based on a client’s individual financial situation, relative to their attitude to risk and an understanding of their life stage, assets and goals.

This technology is now being sold to SigFig, which partnered with UBS in 2016 to create a joint adviser technology research and innovation lab.

“We believe the decision serves the best interests of the business and will allow us to invest further in other client-facing improvements, whilst sharing in the future success of the IP we have created via our equity holding and ongoing partnership with SigFig,” read the UBS statement.

After a rush to automate parts of the financial advice process to lower costs, attract new customers and bridge the 'advice gap' identified by the regulator in 2016, the market for so-called 'robo-advisors' has begun to mature.

Experts believe the following year will see acquisitions and partnerships aplenty as incumbents look to improve digital offerings while startups struggle for clients.

GlobalData’s 2018 wealth manager survey found that just 10 per cent of private wealth managers feared they would lose market share to robo advisors over the next 12 months, with clients entrusting only small portfolios to the digital-only platforms.

Following in the footsteps of WorthFM, SheCapital and Owners Advisory, New York-based robo advisor Hedgeable finally went out of business on 9 August 2018, just short of its 10-year anniversary.

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