UOBAM Invest review: Late to the robo advisor game, but is it any good?

Robo advisors are a trendy way to invest without actually having to do much work. Although rather late to the game, UOB’s new product, UOBAM Invest, is one of the few local bank-owned robo advisors in Singapore and is definitely worth looking at.

By the way, there are absolutely heaps of robo advisors in Singapore including plenty of non-bank ones like Syfe, Stashaway and Endowus. If you’re considering this investment approach, we’ve got some advice on using robo advisors for you.

Just deposit your money, select your desired investment portfolio and the robo advisor will take care of the rest.

What is UOBAM Invest?

UOB Asset Management (UOBAM) has jumped into the fray with UOBAM Invest, which is a mobile app designed for retail investors (i.e. Normal people like you and me).

The UOBAM Invest online portal was first introduced in 2018 for corporate investors, but with the introduction of the UOBAM Invest mobile app, you no longer need to be a company to grow your cash with them. 

UOBAM Invest at a glance
Minimum amount to invest $1
Fees 0.8 per cent per annum ($25,000 and below)

0.6 per cent per annum (Above $25,000)

Types of portfolios Customised selection of equities like ETFs and REITs, and fixed income asset classes like money market assets, Government Securities Index, Investment Grade Credit and HighYield Credit Index
Expected return Varies according to your portfolio, risk profile, investment horizon and goals
Fund your account through PayNow, bank transfer, bill payment (for UOB account holders)

How does UOBAM Invest work?

As with most robo advisors, you’ll need to fill in a few things before the algorithm can recommend a portfolio. You’ll need to input your financial goals, investment time frame and complete a risk assessment exercise in-app first.

Based on this information, UOB’s robo advisor app will recommend an investment portfolio tailored to your profile. You can adjust the parameters e.g. your risk appetite to customise it to your liking.

Finally, you then fund your portfolio either through a lump sum transfer via PayNow, FAST, or (if you have a UOB account) bill payment. You can also set up instructions for regular contributions.

Maintenance like portfolio rebalancing takes place automatically, with no input needed from you, and the platform will alert you when you’ve reached your pre-set investment goals.

What are the UOBAM Invest commission fees?

For commission fees, UOBAM Invest charges a flat 0.8 per cent on investments up to $25,000, which is competitive against the other robo advisors.

Here are the fees involved:

Total investment  Annual fee US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fees
$25,000 and below 0.8 per cent 0.00229 per cent of the value sold
Above $25,000 0.6 per cent 0.00229 per cent of the value sold

*Based on prevailing SEC fee rates and is subject to change from time to time without notice. Please refer to the SEC website for latest updates.

Is there anything unique about UOBAM Invest?

As an investment platform, UOBAM Invest works pretty similarly to other robo advisors at first glance… but there are some subtle differences.

Unlike some other robos, UOBAM Invest does not give you multiple portfolios to choose from. That’s actually a good thing if you’re trying to avoid bias in your decision-making (which is arguably the point of passive investing with a robo).

UOBAM Invest also uses a “glide-path” model, which progressively shifts your money towards safer assets the closer you are to the end of your goal completion date, to ensure you don’t risk everything just as you’re about to achieve your goal. 

Finally, while some robo investors offer expected returns for their various portfolios, UOBAM Invest’s more customised approach means that the long-term and medium-term expected returns vary from person to person. 

It takes into account unusual market shocks that are supposed to offer a more accurate estimate of your chances of success.

UOBAM Invest vs DBS digiPortfolio

Total investment UOBAM Invest DBS digiPortfolio
$25,000 and below 0.8 per cent 0.75 per cent
Above $25,000 0.6 per cent 0.75 per cent

At lower investment amounts, DBS digiPortfolio’s management fees of 0.75 per cent are more competitive than UOBAM Invest’s, which charges 0.8 per cent for amounts of $25,000 and below.

If you’re investing more than $25,000, UOBAM Invest gets a lot cheaper with their 0.6 per cent fee.

DBS digiPortfolio has a much higher barrier to entry, with a minimum investment amount of $1,000. UOB Robo Advisor’s minimum investment amount is only $1.

In terms of the actual investments, DBS digiPortfolio combines automation with human investment professionals, which sounds more comforting than just letting the algorithm do all the work.

But it’s less customisable from the user’s point of view, so more experienced investors who want to be able to tweak their portfolios would benefit more from UOBAM Invest.

UOBAM Invest vs OCBC RoboInvest

Total investment UOBAM Invest OCBC RoboInvest
$25,000 and below 0.8 per cent 0.88 per cent
Above $25,000 0.6 per cent 0.88 per cent

OCBC RoboInvest charges the highest fees of the three big local banks’ robo advisors, at 0.88 per cent, which is significantly higher than UOBAM’s 0.6 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

OCBC RoboInvest’s minimum investment amount of US$100 (S$138), while not stratospherically high, is still higher than UOBAM’s negligible minimum investment amount of $1.

OCBC offers 37 portfolios according to the types of markets or assets you wish to invest in, including China Growth, Precious Metals, Singapore Stable REITs and it’s latest addition – the Metaverse.

This can be appealing if you have a particular preference for certain types of assets or markets.

But you’re still expected to take a hands-off approach — select your portfolio and let the app make the decisions for you.

How to sign up for an UOBAM Invest account?

You don’t need to be a UOB customer to sign up for UOBAM Invest.

To sign up for an account, download the UOBAM Invest mobile app on your Android or Apple phone. Next, create an account username and password, and verify your mobile number and e-mail address.

You will then be prompted to submit personal details and supporting documents through the app. 

When your account is approved, you’ll be informed via e-mail and that’s when you can start transferring money to your account.

P.S. If you’re one of the first 1000 UOBAM Invest app users (old or new) to set up a year-long savings plan with a minimum monthly contribution of $300, stand to get up to $50 credits. The promotion will be ongoing till June 30, 2023.

This article was first published in MoneySmart.

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