Artificial intelligence won’t replace the role of financial advisors, UBS CEO says


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LONDON — One of the world’s biggest wealth managers doesn’t think artificial intelligence can replace the role of financial advisors.

Ralph Hamers, the CEO of UBS, said Wednesday that technologies like AI were better suited to handling day-to-day functions like opening an account or executing trades than advising clients.

“There is no added value for client advisors to be engaged in a process like that,” Hamers told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at the virtual CNBC Evolve Global Summit. “They’re advisors. They should advise.”

“Our financial advisors actually should be supported by the technology,” Hamers said, adding that AI could be used to make sense of the research and other data that advisors don’t have time for.

“That is what artificial intelligence can do, because even our client advisors can’t read all the research that is there,” he said. “Our client advisors can’t comprehend all the product options that are out there.”

Europe’s banking industry has seen radical change over the last decade, with new entrants like Monzo, Revolut and N26 emerging to take on incumbents with slick, digital-only services. 

Covid-19 has further accelerated digital transformation in the banking sector, with many lenders racing to move away from their aging IT systems to cloud-based technology. Some are partnering with tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google, as well as fintech upstarts, to hasten the process.

Hamers said UBS is looking to adopt a “Netflix experience” where clients have access to a “dashboard” of different research and products to choose from.

“That’s where things are going, and that’s where UBS is making the next step, in terms of dealing with technology to deliver a much better service for our clients,” he added.

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