UBS’ wealth management unit is rolling out changes to its equity compensation plan’s services and digital offerings, a move that comes months after Morgan Stanley’s deal to buy cloud-powered equity administrative platform Solium Capital.
Clients using the Swiss firm’s equity compensation plan, along with those clients’ employees, will be able to see their equity awards and personal finances joined together, regardless of whether those accounts are held outside of UBS. More than 800,000 participants across 180 companies use the plan.
The move to enhance the service highlights several key themes underpinning the wealth industry’s evolution: technology used by advisers and customers alike is improving rapidly, and fees are falling across many wealth management platforms.
All the while, players from traditional wealth managers to new robo-adviser entrants like Betterment and Wealthfront are competing in an increasingly crowded ecosystem, and workplace wealth offerings are gaining steam at big banks.
“As the workplace continues to evolve, we know the demand for simplicity and affordability is top of mind,” Michael Barry, UBS head of workplace wealth services, said in a statement on Thursday.
The firm’s wealth unit is also now offering flat trading commissions for their clients using the equity compensation plan, including a fee as low as zero for US equity trades through that plan. And personal finance tools will now track those clients’ spending and saving, as well as offer the ability to set and monitor budgets.
UBS is also now offering a digital advice platform to those clients, combining UBS research with technology to guide clients on their investments. The efforts come as the firm is doubling down on growing its wealth management business, the world’s largest, and one often considered a relatively stable one at the wirehouses.
As one of UBS’ main competitors in wealth management, Morgan Stanley made a big bet on wealth-tech earlier this year, when it said it would buy Solium for $900 million with the hopes of adding Solium’s existing customers at a range of start-ups and other companies to its wealth management business. That deal closed in May. Morgan Stanley’s Solium also has a relationship with UBS through a 2017 strategic partnership.
Morgan Stanley said on Thursday it would enhance its own financial wellness platform, adding features like student loan refinancing capabilities and financial coaching for employees at mid- to large-sized companies.
Goldman Sachs has also made inroads in the workplace wealth space — that is, offering employee financial planning services like guidance on retirement and stock options — with its Ayco business.
UBS’ plans come on the heels of an announced shuffle across its wealth management unit’s executive ranks.
Its co-president of global wealth management, Martin Blessing, is stepping down and will be succeeded by Iqbal Khan, a former Credit Suisse executive, effective October 1. UBS has also planned a shakeup within its investment bank, according to multiple media reports.