20 March 2020: the Swiss Federal Council in Bern announces plans to allow companies to apply for zero-interest loans in the wake of COVID-19.
A hundred kilometers to the east, in Zurich, the phones were already ringing.
"It was my boss calling to tell me we could have tens of thousands of loan requests in less than a week's time," remembers Gabriel, a key member of the cross-divisional task force.
"I jokingly told him that usually, we can deliver the impossible right away. But for miracles, he'd need to wait a second," smiles Gabriel.
Manually processing so many applications was not an option. So, for the 600 client advisors drafted in to help, came a lifeline in the form of robotic automation.
Typically, this kind of development and automation takes four to six weeks per robot. "We had six days," says Gabriel.
If ever there was a moment for a dream team, it was now. A number of cross divisional teams all came together to find a solution.
And the miracle-making commenced.
21–25 March 2020: weeks' worth of work in mere days
"From the initial description, it was obvious that the solution would require multiple robots," recalls Panagiotis, one of the developers who was drafted in.
Leveraging their many years of experience in process automation, the teams collaborated around the clock over the weekend and into the following week to develop six robots that, together, would be able handle the task.
26–28 March 2020: Applications begin and UBS receives 10,000.
The robots were up and running by midnight on Friday 27 March. And our firm was able to get through the entire backlog of applications and begin granting loans. Processing time was reduced from 30-40 minutes to 5-6 minutes per request.
For our clients, it means that they can have the cash they need in their accounts more quickly, and in some cases within an hour of submitting their application – of course assuming they meet the requirements for the program and submit the application form properly.
As a final note, we spoke separately with each of the four developers on the team – Andrea, Filip, Panagiotis and Gabriel. They mentioned different reflections on this project. But they each had one thing that was exactly the same. Each named their other three colleagues and said how vital they had been to the success. This speaks of how collaboration can become a mindset rather than a buzzword and this mindset can, in turn, lead to some miracles.
UBS to waive profit margin from COVID 19
Any potential profits earned from the Swiss bridging loan program will be waived and will instead go to an aid fund that has been set up to support specific projects for the benefit of the community.
The coronavirus is
The UBS Optimus Foundation is working with strategic healthcare partners to implement a strategy that – with support from UBS clients – could save millions of lives. And, all donations are doubled by UBS.