Wealth managers around the world are getting it: They need a robust mobile app in order to stay competitive.
MyPrivateBanking Research, a Swiss research outfit, recently reported that 82% of the wealth managers it examined offer their high-net-worth clientele apps geared exclusively and specifically to their needs, a 19 percentage-point increase over a similar survey last year.
Still, the wealth management industry has a long way to go to satisfy clients’ demand for technical capabilities and digital offerings, a new study from PwC found.
The MyPrivateBanking report analyzed the mobile apps of 30 leading private banks and wealth managers that offer apps for their private clients, based on their wealth management assets at the end of 2015, provided that they had a significant mobile presence.
Apps included in the evaluation had to exhibit at least some features specifically geared to high-net-worth clients, such as investment portfolio overview, trading/brokerage capability, and content and features that are of particular interest to wealth clients.
The study excluded apps that were solely intended for institutional or commercial clients, as well as those that were solely dedicated to a bank’s investor relations activities or ones with a clear retail focus.
Analysts measured usability in terms of eight overarching criteria:
- Availability of mobile apps
- Core functions for clients
- Content and features for customer retention and marketing
- Contact features
- Technical features and support
- Platform integration
- Best practices
The best of the mobile apps in the analysis got high marks for their offerings of remote channels for client-advisor interaction and for advanced personalization capabilities.
UBS led the 2016 rankings, jumping from ninth place in last year’s survey. Credit Suisse maintained the number two spot.
BNP Paribas dropped from first place last year to number three; DBS moved up from seventh for fourth; and Société Générale fell one spot to fifth.
Citi Private Bank was the only U.S. wealth manager to make it into the top 10, coming in at number seven.
Other wealth managers in the study were ABN Amro, Barclays, BNY Mellon, Charles Schwab, Coutts, Danske Bank, Deutsche Bank, First National Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, Investec, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, OCBC, Pictet, RBC, Standard Chartered, TD Bank, Unicredit, US Trust, Vontobel and Wells Fargo
The analysis found several weaknesses among the available mobile apps. For example, just 11 out of 30 wealth managers’ apps offered interactive tools for portfolio analysis, and less than half allowed direct contact to a personal advisor. Moreover, features for customer retention and marketing proved wanting. Only eight wealth managers offered access to an exclusive customer magazine, and seven out of the 30 provided personalized, targeted push messages.
“Many wealth managers struggle to offer state-of-the-art apps,” Rosalia Engchuan, an analyst at MyPrivateBanking Research, said in a statement.
“They cover basic requirements, but still do not differentiate themselves from retail apps and fail to offer their wealth clients a valuable and personalized digital journey.”
The report recommended that wealth managers develop an app that offers wealthy clients extra value and is different from the retail experience.
This begins with an exclusive design and color scheme, a personalized greeting at login, direct access to an advisor and access to relevant content.
In addition, they should build a remote channel for client and advisor interaction. Wealth managers should avail themselves of the technical opportunities arising from the digital revolution, and embrace the possibilities for interacting with clients on a whole new level.
Finally, wealth managers should develop an omnichannel strategy that will allow clients to choose how they will interact with their advisor. Infrastructure to enable such an experience would, for instance, integrate social media platforms and mobile apps.
“Wealth managers should watch the robo-advisors revolution,” Engchuan said. “What sound like distant future scenarios to many are already a reality for new fintech providers that are also beginning to penetrate the wealth management market.”
She said sophisticated wealth apps should provide tools to build hypothetical portfolios and receive product recommendations based on clients’unique financial situation.