Amid Covid-19's social distancing and circuit breaker measures, United Overseas Bank (UOB) has seen a spike in demand for its online investment products, with the number of such purchases jumping 406 per cent in the first quarter of this year from a year ago.
The strongest demand has been for gold and unit trust products as investors seek defensive and diversified assets, the bank said in a media release today.
Gold purchases made via the bank's digital services grew more than 20 times in March compared with the year before. Digital applications for unit trusts also reached a record for the bank in the same month. Customers can buy gold and silver savings on UOB's Personal Internet Banking (PIB) platform and UOB Mighty app. They can also purchase gold bars and gold bullion coins as well as unit trusts directly through UOB's PIB service.
UOB said its wealth advisory team has stepped up its support to customers looking to protect their investments amid Covid-19 uncertainty. For one thing, advisers have been proactively calling wealth banking and privilege banking clients to review their investment portfolios.
Since mid-March, the bank has seen a 70 per cent increase in portfolio reviews, compared with those completed between January and mid-March.
Said Ms Jacquelyn Tan, UOB's head of personal financial services, Singapore: "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."
To keep customers informed on risks and opportunities, given uncertain and volatile 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 last month, six videos and written reports providing advice from UOB's investment advisory team were sent to clients addressing investment opportunities amid the outbreak.
UOB said its Covid-19-related video updates have attracted nearly four times the usual view rate of the bank's previous videos.
This spike in interest in investment information is also reflected in Google Trends data which shows searches on investing in Singapore jumped 67 per cent year on year in March and last month, said the bank.
It is also using technology to help customers navigate the challenges of investing in uncertain times, such as its proprietary Portfolio Advisory Tools (PAT), which draws on more than 12 years of historical market data to simulate the expected performance of an investment portfolio against various economic scenarios.
As market conditions continue to fluctuate due to Covid-19, the tool helps advisers project how market changes are affecting future outcomes, said UOB. It added that one in three potential clients who receive advice through PAT have signed on as wealth clients.