Global financial firm UBS will join forces with SigFig, an automated investment firm, to create a robot advisor program that will cater to clients. The program will be implemented for UBS’s 7,000 advisors over the next year or so. The robo-advisor program is just one of many like it used by other companies like Wealthfront and Betterment. UBS will also assume a small stake in SigFig, a San Francisco startup.
Robo-advisors are online wealth management services that provide automated and algorithm-based portfolio management advice. The program will allow advisors to spend more time talking to clients and less time constructing investment portfolios or other activities that can be automated. Robo-advisors are a good way to get reliable advice quickly and easily.
The technology brings the human element of corporations back into the spotlight. Robert J. McCann, chairman of UBS Americas, says UBS partnered with SigFig because of their emphasis on the human connection. “Mike is somebody who, while a technologist, shares our belief that people are the key to the wealth management process,” McCann said of Mike Sha, SigFig CEO.
McCann himself was just recognized for his contributions to the business world by the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity’s 13th Annual Awards dinner, chaired by KKR’s Ken Mehlman.
UBS is also taking a small share in SigFig. The amount of that equity investment is said to be small but remains undisclosed. The investment is small enough that SigFig will remain independent.
Many companies have invested in robo-advisors over the past few years as digital service has become more prevalent and expected. Robo-advisors’ popularity has put pressure on financial companies to offer more digital services and cut fees; even Merrill Lynch is expected to introduce a similar service, as well as other big companies like Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.
“Clearly we are entering a world where having technology available to employees but also available to your clients is an important part of how you are going to have to do business going forward,” McCann said.