Mobility services at private banks...how far ahead?

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14 October 2011
Isabella Fonseca
Overall, across markets, mobile applications for Wealth Management services are at nascent stages at firms targeting the high net worth individuals. Most firms are launching iPhone applications for the end user first, followed by Android applications for the end user; in terms of applications for the advisor, most firms are launching with iPad first. Wealth managers are open to launching with other operating systems, but have identified iOS and Android as near-term operating system priorities. Even though Blackberry has neat and secure technology for banks, it has lost market share significantly. And unfortunately this week was not the best for this Canadian company, when millions of users were left stranded, not able to use their email or chat functionality... But all seems to be fine now... In the past few months Celent has been conducting a survey across wealth management firms in Europe with the intent to understand the use of mobility applications for wealth management services. To our surprise, the penetration of users, both for advisors and end clients, is fairly low. Applications developed allow advisors to help them in the advisory process from client acquisition, to client on-boarding, to advice: view client portfolio, review performance, financial goals, client reporting, monitoring, access to corporate presentations, market data, calculators. Applications developed for end-investors include: Ability to view current state of portfolio, breakdown of investments, monitoring, make inquiries, transactions (payments, fund transfers, trading), view transaction history, market data, alerts, card management services, calculators.

So applications for the end user are slightly more ahead of applications for the advisor, but still, the functionalities are mostly informational and content oriented. So why has adoption not been as expected? There is definitely a fear that too much functionality to the end user will dilute the service offering of the advisor. Not all advisors own tablets, so firms will have to issue tablets to all advisors or relationship managers, which adds to expenses surrounding development. While it is considered a good marketing channel, providing internet access via a portal has worked well. And last, but not least, security concerns around customer data.

However, at Celent we believe that we will see firms adopting mobile technologies for their end clients and advisors more and more, as predictions in terms of number of advisors and potential users is positive and the adoption of smartphones and tablets is set to grow exponentially in the next 2-3 yrs. What will be interesting to watch is the evolution of the various smartphones and tablets and its update amongst the banks and its customers... who will be the winner after all? We look forward to your comments!

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Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America