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The Best & Worst Mobile Apps for Wealth Management: J.D. Power, 2021

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Seventy-five percent of wealth management firms have made feature enhancements to their apps in the past year, up from 44% a year ago, according to a study released Tuesday by J.D. Power.

Even though these efforts are paying off in terms of greater utilization, improved engagement and higher overall customer satisfaction scores, wealth management still lags other industries as far as the overall app user experience goes, the study found.

“The pace of customer adoption of mobile has accelerated dramatically across virtually every industry, and that’s both an opportunity and a challenge for wealth management firms,” Michael Foy, senior director of wealth intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a statement. 

“Wealth management firms have some unique challenges because of legacy back-end technology and the sheer complexity and range of services they need to provide. But there are unique opportunities to leverage an app to deliver relevant educational content and facilitate communication with advisors,” Foy explained. 

The study, which was fielded in July and August, is based on responses from 3,025 full-service and self-directed investors.

Wealth Management vs. Other Industries

According to the study, overall customer satisfaction with wealth management mobile apps rose nine points year over year to 858 on a 1,000-point scale. Speed, range of services offered and overall appearance drove this increase, J.D. Power found.

The number of customers using their wealth apps daily this year has increased by four percentage points from last year, and the number using them multiple times per day has increased by three points.

Despite increased customer satisfaction, overall customer satisfaction with wealth apps trails average app satisfaction scores in other J.D. Power industry studies: banking, 860; credit cards, 867; and insurance, 877. 

True, wealth management firms are spending big on updates, with 31% introducing major feature updates this year. But that number jumps to 33% for credit card apps and 50% for banking apps. 

J.D. Power noted that a key differentiator for wealth management apps versus those of other industries is direct-line connectivity to human advisors. Even so, only 44% of wealth app users who work with an advisor said they communicate with them via the app, a finding that is unchanged from 2020.

Improvement Needed

Wealth management firms are highly proficient at providing apps with market-related news and information, according to the study, yet many fall short on delivering personalized content and guidance. 

Just 51% of investors in the study strongly agreed that their wealth app provides tailored insights and content, and only 47% said it is very easy to research investment options on their wealth app. 

“Customer expectations for a seamless multi-channel experience are rising rapidly in line with significant investment and innovation for nearly every customer touch point across every industry,” Amit Aggarwal, managing director of digital solutions at J.D. Power, said in the statement. 

“The key for wealth management firms to level up in this competitive environment is to heavily lean into their unique value propositions, making it easy and intuitive for investors to move seamlessly between the app and other digital or human channels, while delivering personalized guidance and important information along the way.”