Tension at UBS between a tech-focused CEO and a more traditionally minded exec highlights the very real hurdles of digital transformation-spurred growth.
Implementing a digital overhaul involves more than just technical challenges: It requires a cultural shift that relies on buy-in from an entire organization.
There’s in-fighting at UBS between CEO Ralph Hamers, who aims to use technology to expand the bank’s breadth, and the head of UBS’ wealth business, Iqbal Khan, who favors a more high-touch and traditional approach, according to a sweeping Bloomberg report.
The report paints UBS, which has maintained steady returns, as caught in a power struggle between those who embrace Hamers’ vision for algorithm-driven expansion to a broader subset of potential clients, versus those who want to abide by Khan’s remit to build relationships “not with machines, but with people.”
Hamers’ digital vision faced a significant setback when UBS’ $1.4 billion acquisition of robo-advisor Wealthfront was abruptly cancelled last month. It remains to be seen whether Hamers’ digital push and customer expansion ambitions will win out over Khan’s influence.