UOB wealth advisers step up to help clients protect investments amid COVID-19 uncertainty; sees 70 per cent rise in portfolio reviews
United Overseas Bank (UOB) Wealth Advisers have intensified support to their clients as part of a Bank-wide #UnitedforYou effort to help people grappling with the impact of COVID-19. As markets continue to fluctuate and economies stall due to COVID-19, UOB’s more than 500 Wealth Advisers have been proactively calling Wealth Banking and Privilege Banking clients to review their investment portfolios.
During these discussions, UOB continues to advocate its risk-first approach to ensure investors understand the risks of an investment ahead of any potential returns. Since mid-March, the Bank has seen a 70 per cent increase in portfolio reviews , compared with those completed between January and mid-March.
As part of keeping clients informed on risks and opportunities given fluid market conditions, UOB has also increased the investment insight reports it provides to clients. The reports contain information such as the Bank’s views on future market moves and recommended investment strategies. In March and April, six advisory videos and written reports providing advice from UOB’s investment advisory team were sent to clients addressing investment opportunities during the time of COVID-19.
UOB’s COVID-19-related video updates have attracted the highest viewership to date, with nearly four times the usual view rate when compared with past UOB investment and advisory videos, reflecting investor demand for trusted advice in a period of significant market uncertainty. This higher interest in investment information is also reflected in Google Trends data which shows a 67 per cent increase in Singapore for investing-related searches since March 2020
UOB is also seeing an increased demand for online investment opportunities, with the purchasing of investment products online up 406 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, compared with a year ago. The strongest demand has been for gold and unit trust products , as investors seek defensive and diversified assets.
Ms Jacquelyn Tan, Head of Personal Financial Services Singapore, UOB, said: “At a time when wealth advisers around the world are reacting to calls from worried clients, we are instead engaging our managed clients proactively to address their questions and concerns and to help them on their investments.
“As part of our discussions, we take clients through possible market scenarios and the long-term implication of the downturn on their investments. With the ‘circuit breaker’ measures in place, we are using technology to engage our customers, such as using our proprietary Portfolio Advisory Tools (PAT) to help clients manage investments during these times. Our clients have a positive experience with PAT, with historically one in four wealth clients who have not been actively investing becoming active after using PAT.”
Launched in 2019, the UOB Portfolio Advisory Tools is a purpose-built digital investment advisory platform that draws on more than 12 years of historical market data to simulate the expected performance of an investment portfolio against various economic scenarios. These insights are then used to create a portfolio to achieve the client’s individual wealth goals. As market conditions continue to fluctuate due to COVID-19, the tool helps advisers project how market changes are affecting future outcomes, thereby making the conversations more concrete. UOB was the first local bank to provide such a digital service specifically to emerging affluent consumers in Singapore. One in three potential clients who receive advice through PAT have gone on to become wealth clients.
As UOB Wealth Advisers used the various digital tools at their disposal to step up to help clients navigate the challenges of investing in uncertain times, they were also adjusting to having to work from home themselves.
One area that the Bank needed to focus on was for all verbal instructions from clients to be recorded. Ahead of “circuit breaker” measures being announced, UOB’s Technology and Operations team had identified this need and were implementing a solution that enabled all UOB Wealth Advisers to record conversations securely by connecting their mobile phones to UOB’s phone network. The technical set-up of the new system took less than a week and training of all UOB Wealth Advisers was done ahead of “circuit breaker” measures being rolled out, thereby enabling a seamless transition to working from home.
For consumers considering investing with UOB, the Bank has set up a new service where they can have an initial discussion with a Wealth Adviser via video call. Following this call, the UOB Wealth Advisers will then switch to a voice call to record the conversation where the client gives consent for the Bank to create an investment portfolio for them.
Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage officer at iCompareLoan, said: “it is admirable that UOB wealth advisers are taking the risk-first approach to ensure investors understand the risks of their investments ahead of any potential returns. This is very important in this environment.”
He added, “The Covid-19 pandemic will be a game changer. Even before this crisis kicked-in, technology was already disrupting industries and investor patterns. The pandemic will only accelerate the disruption. Investors and industries which refuse to adopt and adapt to the changing world will have to face severe risks and these risks are unnecessary to take.”