Following the launch of its ‘smart’ wealth management service for mass-affluent clients in Taiwan last week, UBS Wealth Management plans to double headcount for the platform to around 40, as part of a drive to strengthen its digital offering.
Taiwan is now the only market outside Switzerland where UBS WM offers the platform – an electronic service for assessing client needs and providing advice – to mass-affluent clients as well as high-net-worth individuals.
To further develop the offering for mass-affluent clients, the bank will further improve its financial technology capabilities, including the transfer of all financial planning services online with all transactions conducted electronically, said Chang Linyun, deputy head of wealth management at UBS Taiwan.
He added that UBS Taiwan has embarked on a major project to upgrade its systems to support the new functions, which are already available to HNW clients in its other Asian markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
UBS declined to comment on a time frame for extending the offering to mass-affluent clients elsewhere in the region.
Thirteen of the current 20-odd UBS Advice staff have transferred from other teams in the wealth division, while the rest either have been or will be added through hiring, Chang said. He had joined UBS in August 2014 to lead the Advice team in Taiwan. Prior to that, he led BlackRock’s retail team for Asia ex-Japan.
UBS WM Taiwan launched the smart WM offering last week to clients with investable assets of $250,000 to $2 million, after last month receiving regulatory approval to do so.
The platform will help to satisfy a huge need for retirement planning among this client group, Chang noted. As of end-2015, Taiwan had an estimated 650,000 people with investable assets of $500,000 to $2 million, worth a total of $630 billion, he said. But there is no employee pension choice scheme in Taiwan such as the Mandatory Provident Fund in Hong Kong.
He was also optimistic for the service’s prospects because “Taiwanese people like trying new things”.
For the smart offering, UBS conducts a know-your-customer assessment of the retirement needs and risk appetite of clients, then comes up with investment portfolio advice on a daily basis. The portfolio is reviewed at least once a year and suggestions for adjustments are made if the customer undergoes significant life changes, such as inheriting wealth or getting divorced. Investment advice will be sent to clients electronically under the smart offering.
UBS launched UBS Advice first in Zurich in 2013, before expanding it to Singapore and Hong Kong in 2014 and Taiwan last year.