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10 Best Investing Sites for Mobile Users—2015: Dalbar

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Smartphone and tablet ownership is on the rise globally. Pew Research shows that as of this year two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone.

“Financial firms must stay current and leverage the mobile Web to establish a meaningful presence on their customers’ devices,” according to Boston-based consulting firm Dalbar. “Recognizing this necessity, many financial services firms are providing mobile-optimized websites catering to the mobile-broadband subscribers.”

Dalbar has released its Mobile InSIGHT report that examines innovations in the world of mobile optimized websites.

During the second semester of 2015, Dalbar’s group of digital analysts completed an in-depth review of a total of 46 mobile websites offered by financial services firms.

Of the 46 mobile sites evaluated, 26% either underwent notable changes over the last six months or are new to Dalbar’s evaluation pool this semester.

The sites are evaluated based on a criteria of 11 distinct evaluation categories, which include design, security, mobile optimization, ease of use, personalization and customization, support, interaction with the firm, interactivity, navigation, core content and behavior-centric features.

(Related: 10 Best Investing Sites for Mobile Users: 2014)

From there, mobile sites are awarded a score from 0 – 100 and ranked within their respective audience, whether retirement provider, mutual fund or life insurance & annuity.

Here are the 10 highest-scoring sites in the financial services space.

Principal Financial Mobile App 

No. 10 (No. 7 among retirement provider mobile sites)

Principal Financial

Score: 77.14

Principal Financial’s mobile site was rewarded for its behavior centric, interactivity, interaction with the firm, ease of use, security, design and support capabilities.

A new redesign of its site significantly increased the firm’s score in the areas of Interaction with the Firm and Behavior Centric.

According to Dalbar, Principal Financial completely redesigned both its pre and post-login areas to be responsive to mobile users. The mobile site could previously only access account data – leaving the pre-login content unavailable to mobile users.

While not all post-login areas are fully responsive, this redesign is certainly well-organized with the essential account information.

Principal Financial’s life insurance and annuity mobile site also ranked No. 6 among other life insurance & annuity mobile sites with a 67.38 score.

T. Rowe Price Mobile App

No. 9 (No. 6 among retirement provider mobile sites)

T. Rowe Price

Score: 77.81

T. Rowe Price received high scores for the security, navigation and behavior centric capabilities of its mobile site.

According to Dalbar, T. Rowe Price previously offered a mobile site to retirement plan participants that “excelled in presenting fund information but provided a limited volume of account details.”

The firm recently redesigned its Workplace Retirement Web site and made the post-login view responsive. While the fund details are still available, account holders now have access to their messages, statements and personal preferences. The firm offers both account views upon login.

Vanguard Mobile App

No. 8 (No. 5 among retirement provider mobile sites)


Score: 79.07

Previously, Vanguard allowed its plan participants to login using the individual investor mobile site. Now, both retirement plan participants and investors each have a responsive site designed with the particular audience in mind.

Vanguard’s retirement provider mobile site received top scores for its design, security, interactivity, navigation and behavior centric capabilities.

Merrill Lynch Mobile App

No. 7 (No. 4 among retirement provider mobile sites)

Merrill Lynch

Score: 79.10

Merrill Lynch’s mobile site for its retirement plan participants received top honors for its design, security, mobile optimization, navigation and behavior centric features.

Merrill Lynch was one of only three retirement providers that were rewarded for the mobile optimization of its website.

Dalbar considers a site mobile optimized if it has a mobile-friendly pre-login, appropriately formatted pages and the ability to load data incrementally.

TIAA-CREF Mobile App

No. 6


Score: 81.57 (No. 3 among mutual fund mobile sites)

Score: 79.95 (No. 3 among retirement provider mobile sites)

TIAA-CREF received high scores for both its mutual fund and retirement provider audiences. Its mobile sites were rewarded for its navigation, interactivity, interaction with the firm, ease of use, security and design.

TIAA-CREF was also rewarded for its site’s personalization and customization abilities. Only three of all of the firms analyzed received top scores in this category, which includes the depth of user-specific information as well as the ability to customize the site to meet individual needs and routines.

Dalbar considers a site to have good personalization and customization if it allows users to select a language and remembers user credentials. The site also tailors content to the user’s specific situation, as well as allows users to bookmark or favorit content and pages.


No. 5 (No. 2 among retirement provider mobile sites)


Score: 83.74

OneAmerica’s newly responsive account services Web site includes extensive plan information and transactional capabilities, according to Dalbar, and received a high score for its supportive features.

“A tabbed format is used to display categorized FAQs where users can find the answers to general, loan, quicken and personal rate of return questions. Users can also maneuver smoothly through a glossary by selecting the floating “A” which opens the alphabet for anchored navigation,” according to Dalbar.

The site also earned top scores for its design, security, interactivity, and behavior centric.

USAA Mobile App

No. 4 (No. 1 among life insurance & annuity mobile sites)


Score: 85.12

USAA’s mobile site was recognized for earning top scores in design, mobile optimization, interaction with the firm and behavior centric features.

USAA was the only life insurance and annuity mobile site to be given a high score for its behavior-centric features.

A high score for behavior-centric features rewards mobile sites that include the ability to share content via email or social media, the ability to cancel on-screen transactions and the ability to verify a request before it’s submitted.

Royce Funds Mobile App

No. 3 (No. 2 among mutual fund mobile sites)

Royce Funds

Score: 85.29

Royce Funds’ responsive Web site for shareholders was newly added this quarter to Dalbar’s list of top mobile sites.

“Mobile was definitely considered when designing this site as the streamlined approach allows for smooth navigation and maneuverability,” according to Dalbar.

Royce Funds received top scores for its design, security, ease of use, mobile optimization and behavior centric features.

“All of the content is optimized for mobile with only a few formatting issues here and there,” according to Dalbar. “Users tap from page to page with ease and always know exactly where they are within the site’s menu.”

American Century Mobile App

No. 2 (No. 1 among mutual fund mobile sites)

American Century

Score: 85.85

Dalbar considers American Century to have to best mobile site among other mutual fund mobile sites.

American Century was recognized for its design, security, mobile optimization, ease of use, support, navigation and behavior-centric features.

American Century was the only mutual fund to receive a top score for its supportive features. When looking at a site’s supportive resources, Dalbar considers whether a site offers assistance with recovering or resetting forgotten login credentials, as well as content-based Help/FAQs and a proactive search tool.

Nationwide Retirement Solutions Mobile App 

No. 1 (No. 1 among retirement provider mobile sites)

Nationwide Retirement Solutions

Score: 92.79

The defined contribution service provider took the highest score of all the 46 financial firms that Dalbar analyzed.

Nationwide Retirement Solutions’ site received top scores for its design, security, ease of use, personalization and customization, interactivity, navigation, and behavior centric features.

Nationwide Retirement Solutions’ was one of only four retirement providers to receive high marks for its site’s ease of use.

Dalbar considers a site to have “ease of use” if it has adequately sized buttons, clear language and recognizable controls.

According to Dalbar, users could quickly become oriented with and begin utilizing Nationwide Retirement Solutions’ site.

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