Mobile Applications for High Net Worth Customers: A Study of the European Market

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7 June 2012


European wealth managers are looking to smartphone and tablet applications to increase client touch points. Application development among Western European wealth managers is still in its nascent stages. Going forward, Celent expects accelerated app development for high net worth clients.

In a new report, Mobile Applications for High Net Worth Customers: A Study of the European Market, Celent examines mobile application development in six markets: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. This report, the first of two reports on mobile app development in the European market, focuses on apps for the wealth management client.

European wealth managers are facing an extremely challenging environment. Consumers have been putting less faith in their banks and advisors to manage their wealth, and regulators have been ramping up compliance requirements around the selection of products and transparency of fees and commissions. Additionally, the European sovereign debt crisis, subsequent credit downgrades of several European banks, and the second eurozone recession in less than five years have reignited investors’ fears regarding the safe-keeping of their assets. More than ever, customers have been demanding more active communication and risk management.

“Firms have responded to these demands by turning to front office technology to improve advisor workflows and communication, and In the midst of these technology considerations, smartphones and tablets continue to dominate technology and business headlines,” says Alexander Camargo, Analyst and coauthor of the report. “Although wealth managers may instinctively want to reduce budgets in these challenging times, HNW investor demands for consistent monitoring of portfolios and continued communication will prevent such belt tightening. Technology, and specifically mobile technology, will empower clients to monitor account performance and their holdings but also to contact their advisors.”

“Our survey results show that mobile app development among wealth managers has not yet reached a strong level of maturity. Many wealth managers have not yet developed mobile apps because they don’t believe clients will move assets in or out of a firm because of its mobile offering,” says Isabella Fonseca, Research Director at Celent and coauthor of the report. “However, wealth managers are accelerating the development. They are aware that it is unwise for firms to wait until clients view mobility as a need to have. Because of the time it takes to develop an app, firms should be developing apps now for them to be ready by Q4 of 2012.”

Included in this report is Celent’s clarification as to what it considers to be a “wealth management app” and its differentiation from retail banking and brokerage apps; an overview of the drivers of mobility and the trends in the European wealth management market as they relate to mobile apps for end users; a comparative analysis of the six markets surveyed in terms of mobile phone, smartphone, and tablet penetration; and a comparison of the retail investor market. This retail investor comparative analysis looks at the number of retail investors and high net worth individuals, and the value of financial assets held by households in each market.

The report provides a detailed look at each of the six markets, including explorations of the prevailing characteristics in the retail investor market, the structure of the wealth management market, and the investor and high net worth investor growth expectations. This detailed market analysis also includes the survey results for each country and assesses the maturity of each market in terms of mobile adoption among end users.

The report concludes with an analysis of each market’s continuing growth opportunities as they relate to mobile adoption among wealth management clients in the near term.