Getting chatty: UBS to develop ‘industry first’ social chat network


UBS’ Wealth Management division has announced plans to develop a secure social chat facility, providing a direct communication channel between clients and advisers.

The dedicated network, considered an industry first, will be developed within UBS’ Singapore-based innovation lab, EVOLVE, in partnership with Singapore-based technology and online messaging company, FinChat.

According to Dirk Klee, UBS Wealth Management division’s chief operating officer and head of digital strategy, the dedicated chat facility will provide a practical compromise between the openness of a traditional social network and the rigorous compliance standards required of wealth managers.

“It is important for us to break any impasse between the ever-increasing usage of social media platforms and rise in compliance monitoring standards,” Klee said.

Moving forward, UBS aims to deliver the chat facility beyond their proprietary network, eventually enabling clients to use their “favourite messaging platforms” to communicate with advisers, he said.

However, a cross-platform rollout may be some years away, requiring either a change to local data protection and retention laws, or a means to ensure that a service that ‘piggybacks’ off popular social networking platforms, such as WhatsApp and Facebook chat,m complies with local data regulations.

According to Ketan Samani, UBS Asia Pacific Wealth Management’s chief digital officer, the impetus for creating the dedicated chat service was overwhelmingly driven by clients.

“Our clients have told us repeatedly they want to use chat apps for communication with their client advisors and to receive product and investment recommendations,” Samani said.

Strict industry regulations, including provisions around the retention and archiving of data, prevented previous social communications concepts from getting off the ground, according to Bill Eng, co-founder and chief executive of FinChat Technology.

“This partnership is something that couldn’t have been possible just a few years ago,” Eng said.

“We are well placed to help UBS solve one of its key roadblocks for communications, and I am proud we worked so well together to get this off the ground in just a matter of weeks.”