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UBS passes digitization, now in the process of re-digitizing

The banking group believes that banking is transforming to be technology-enabled digital interaction:

Swiss multinational investment bank UBS Group has an office building in the heart of London, which is a 12-storeyed, 700,000 sq ft city landmark, looking almost like a single slab of steel. The building seems to have been designed to establish the history of the 155-year-old institution as much as it reflects the technology prowess of the iconic financial services behemoth. It stands majestically looking like a server rack.

Appropriately or otherwise, UBS Group has a technology workforce of 200,000 who together enable the Group to run its core businesses of wealth management, retail banking, investment banking and asset management powered by the latest of digital technologies. Quite unlike other banking institutions, UBS is not just competing with other banks and financial institutions but a myriad of start-ups, fintech firms and social media forums to garner customers, offer them the best products and get certifications of excellence in customer experience.

For the bank, which is co-headquartered in Zürich and Basel, and maintains a presence in all major financial centres as the largest private bank in the world, digitization is something that had happened sometime back, it is now in the process of re-digitizing banking. It is more of an organization where everything is managed and run by technology. It believes banking is like digital transportation of data and there is a need to reinvent and re-digitalize banking.


UBS Group’s Chief Digital and Information Officer Mike Dargan explains in a widely published interview that the whole technology team in the Group functions around 5 operational pillars of digital transformation. The first is the core vision, which is the ultimate objective of the Group’s technology journey, harmonizing the ‘how’, meaning to end a pattern of siloed operations, the remapping of the technology organization structure from top to bottom, defining and simplifying as far as possible the operational processes, KPIs and financials against which the organization’s performance is judged and finally articulation of the workforce and vendor strategy.

Dargan also emphasizes on what he calls A, B, C, D and E of innovations, where A stands for AI and Automation, B for Blockchain and unBundling, C for cloud and connectivity, D for Data and E for Experience. ABCD and E covers the key strategic points that help the Group stay competitive.


UBS today has a unified tech platform, called One Wealth Management Platform, built at a cost of $1 billion, to manage its flagship wealth management business. It is also focusing on rationalizing its fragmented technology infrastructure globally into one centralized system.

The Group is also aiming at achieving true agility, a methodology calling for appropriate development toolchains, automated testing, and the like besides a right partnership mindset.

The Group insists that the systems, services and infrastructure it creates run through every single aspect of what it does. It declares that cloud is a pillar of its digital journey, coding is against the clock, there is a Digital Factory, a ‘distinguished engineers’ program and next level software development on DevCloud.


UBS has a unique program called the UBS Next, which is intended to engage with fintechs and the broader tech ecosystem. The Group has plans to invest $200 million in digital ventures. Through this initiative, the Group plans to connect to fintechs and tech startups through its innovation labs, digital factories, future of finance initiatives as well as project collaborations.

The initiative focuses on enabling UBS’s key strategic priorities like codeveloping digital innovation and ecosystem through partnerships, research and innovation pipeline management, facilitated by centers of excellence; modernizing and modularizing technical estates, leveraging new technologies; and finding new and effective ways to engage with clients and deliver the services, as well as evolving a business model to drive growth across UBS with cutting-edge technologies and solutions.

UBS has evolved what it calls ‘ABCs of tech’, which is driven by powerful secular trends around automation, analytics, and security. The Group expects this theme to generate 10% revenue growth over 2020–25 on average.

At UBS, technology is critically important. It is a very large part of the organization overall. While the core of the Group will continue to be banking, banking will transform more and more to be technology-enabled digital interaction.

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(This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.)

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