Mobility Apps for Capital Markets and Wealth Management: A look at 2012

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2 February 2012
Bill Fearnley
We recently published our latest research on mobility, "North American SnAPPshot: Capital Markets and Wealth Management". We looked at apps available from leading capital market, wealth management and online brokers and discovered some interesting trends. (1) Strong sales of smartphones and tablets are helping drive demand for mobile applications or “apps” (2) individual and professional investors are looking to do more with their smart devices, and (3) the iOS operating systems from Apple is the most popular platform for financial apps. In capital markets, we were surprised that only 8 of the 40 large firms in our sample have apps available for their clients today. As we travel and commute, we continue to see more tablets and more clients reviewing content onscreen instead of paper reports. Celent believes offline access on mobile devices is becoming a must have for many professional investors because it lets them read a note or report wherever and whenever they want. For sell side firms looking for new ways to get attention from the buy side we suggest tablet apps with offline access and note taking tools are a great way for sell side analysts to get their research in front of their buy side counterparts. In wealth management, Celent expects financial institutions to remain focused on account management, market information, and trading tools because most accounts are self directed. Wealth management firms and online brokers continue to add sophisticated charting tools and research to their apps as a way to differentiate from competitors. Our discussions suggest both clients and advisors are both looking for wealth management apps. Clients, especially high net worth clients have smartphones and tablets and expect to have account access and investment information available on their devices. Advisors are looking for apps that can help them prepare and present in client and prospect meetings. Two major wealth managers have recently launched field tests of new apps for their advisors and we will report on this in an upcoming report. Celent believes firms that have apps available today are leaders and are using client feedback to make improvements to their apps. While we don’t see signs today that assets are moving to firms with apps, financial institutions should keep a close watch on the “app gap” between what they have and what competitors have today. We envision a day when most capital market and wealth management firms have mobile apps and firms should be investing today because firms that lag behind will likely have to pay a lot more for app development to catch up with key competitors.

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