AI won’t replace financial advisors, UBS CEO says

LONDON – One of the largest asset managers in the world doesn’t believe artificial intelligence can replace the role of financial advisor.

Ralph Hamers, CEO of UBS, said on Wednesday that technologies like AI are better suited to doing everyday tasks like opening an account or executing trades than advising clients.

“There is no added value for a relationship manager to be involved in such a process,” Hamers told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at the CNBC Evolve Virtual Global Summit. “You are an advisor. You should advise.”

“Our financial advisors should really be backed by the technology,” Hamers said, adding that AI could be used to understand the research and other data that advisors don’t have time for.

“Artificial intelligence can do that, because even our customer advisors cannot read all of the research there is,” he said. “Our relationship managers cannot understand all of the product options that are out there.”

The European banking sector has changed radically in the last decade, with new entrants like Monzo, Revolut and N26 taking on sleek, all-digital services to take over established businesses.

Covid-19 has further accelerated digital transformation in the banking sector, with many lenders eager to move from their legacy IT systems to cloud-based technologies. Some are partnering with tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, as well as fintech newbies, to speed up the process.

Hamers said UBS wants to introduce a “Netflix experience” that gives clients access to a “dashboard” with various research and product offerings.

“It continues here, and this is where UBS is taking the next step in using technology to better serve our clients,” he added.

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