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Dirk Klee, Chief Operating Officer, UBS Wealth Management

Please give us a bit of background on yourself, and how your organisation plays a leadership role in the financial technology space.

Clients remain at the centre of everything we do and technology allows us to give more people better advice and help them achieve their goals. As the world’s largest wealth manager, we are reshaping our business to remain the industry leader and give our clients a better and more seamless experience – as part of that we’re investing heavily in a program to unify our IT platform across the world.

We’re also collaborating with the best of fintech start-ups and established digital players to deliver game-changing capabilities for our clients’ evolving needs, while also developing our own services internally. A recent example of this is UBS SmartWealth, our new UK digital platform launched in October last year, enabling us to give more people access to personalised advice and access to their investments at all times.

What will you be discussing at The Economist's Finance Disrupted Conference on January 25th 2017 in London?

It was estimated the wealth management industry’s IT spending reached $5.7 billion in 2016 and will reach approximately $7.5 billion by 2020. This investment is changing the industry and how clients interact with us.
 
I’m going to discuss what some of these investments are, how they’re going to change the work we do and, most importantly, how the human advisor will remain at the core of the wealth management offering.

How is technology affecting the wealth management industry and how far do you think it can go?

Technology and innovation allow us to challenge how things are done. The quality and expertise of our advice is a competitive advantage that’s hard to replicate through technology alone, but it allows us to complement our existing ways of working. The key question for me and UBS is how we can use these new technologies to provide an even better service for our clients.
 
Technology offers big opportunities for wealth managers, from added abilities to sift through data to robo-advisory capabilities. However, it’s important to note that although digitalisation will unlock opportunities in some parts of wealth management, it will not dismantle the traditional distribution channels completely. Any system will always need the human factor, relying on the full expertise of our specialist teams.
 
UBS SmartWealth is a great example of this. It’s an online service, but it uses the combined intelligence of over 1,000 investment experts to decide how to invest our clients’ money and achieve their goals. Clients who use it will have 24/7 access to a dedicated client team, so there is always another person they can talk to about their investments and get advice from.

To learn more about the Finance Disrupted event, please click here.