August Hatecke, co-head Wealth Management Asia Pacific at UBS Global Wealth Management shares his views with Asian Private Banker in ‘The Final Word’, a year in review by the region’s private banking leaders as they share their thoughts and opinions on key issues around industry trends, investments, regulations, and technology in 2021, as well as providing their predictions for 2022.
The previous 12 months have proved that private banks can draw in significant amounts of net new assets and client accounts as the industry has adapted to widespread travel restriction due to COVID-19. With the potential easing of these restrictions in 2022, new variants aside, to what extent will private banks return to their pre-pandemic methods of sourcing clients and gathering assets?
Recently, we asked clients in a broad APAC survey about their UBS experience and about 90% were satisfied with UBS and 93% were satisfied with their client advisors. These achievements have only been possible on the back of our hybrid approach of high-tech and high-touch, where we vastly improved the frequency and the way in which we interact with clients.
In the past 24 months, our usage of digital platforms in connecting with clients has manifested itself in strong financial results. In 2021, we saw our online trades increase by over 90% YoY, making up 70% of equity trades. This is evident in our 3Q21 results where profit before tax soared 21% YoY and crossed US$1 billion in just nine months, contributing to about 25% to our global profit before tax.
As much as technology is a megatrend now, it will never be able to replace the human touch that we have, especially discussions about wealth structuring and family and succession planning. Thus, meeting clients in person will still be key to the relationship. This way, we can ensure we deliver a personalised, relevant, on-time and seamless UBS experience to clients, helping them achieve their life goals.
The past two years or so have accelerated the rate of technological and digital adoption at private banks across the region, given the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. From hyper-personalisation to digital onboarding and KYC, what will be the biggest focus in terms of tech deployment for the industry in 2022 and where do the gaps lie?
Hyper-personalisation is key in offerings to private clients today. The main focus is to make it easy and seamless for clients to interact and bank with us.
We reimagine customer service by delivering a client experience that’s as personal as clients’ needs and ensuring what clients get is relevant to them and on-time so that they can act on opportunities anytime and anywhere. This makes interacting with us simple, seamless and intuitive.
Tech deployment is especially important for our business to stay agile during the pandemic. In 2021, our monthly online trading revenue increased by 65% YoY (Jan-Oct). We also saw more digital first timers amongst clients.
Take Direct Investment Insights as an example which we launched early last year. It empowers investors with timely, relevant and actionable investment insights. Asia is the first region in the world to launch this innovative offering.
Clients are now able to receive insights based on their financial interests together with related trading cases on UBS Mobile Banking app and E-Banking website. With just one click away, they get relevant content with actionable trading cases – a pioneer in the industry where we link insights with execution. Clients can also turn on push notifications on their mobiles to get alerts when new relevant content is available
In the course of 2021, many private banks have grown their business presence in Singapore as the industry saw more business opportunities among Greater China clients in the city state. What is your private bank’s business split across Hong Kong and Singapore now compared to 12 months ago? Do you think the shift of gravity in business across Hong Kong and Singapore has reached an equilibrium?
For our wealth management business in Asia, we are strategic in each market in a specific way. Both Hong Kong and Singapore are important wealth management hubs for UBS in APAC.
UBS has a strong foothold in Singapore. What we aim to achieve is an ecosystem headquartered in Singapore that facilities strategic connectivity and is the window to the world for Southeast Asia. Singapore sits in the heart of ASEAN, which is an attractive growth spot emerging with the rise of tech unicorns. We saw this major opportunity and launched UBS Tech Connect SEA to be the global bridge for these technopreneurs.
For Hong Kong, there are tremendous opportunities in the Greater Bay Area in developing into an engine for high-quality development, with a focus on technology and finance. It will offer a unique opportunity for Hong Kong, strengthening its role as a gateway to connect China and the rest of the world.
Meet 2021’s industry leaders in the full round up of of Asian Private Banker‘s The Final Word 2021.