Brokerage firms’ private websites are an increasingly important aspect of the client relationship. In Corporate Insight’s 2016 Retail Investor Survey, 88% of respondents indicated that their brokerage firm’s website is “very important” or “extremely important” to them. The importance of the client site experience is magnified for digital advice services, which primarily interact with clients through digital platforms. Even for hybrid offerings (e.g., Capital One Investing, Personal Capital and VPAS), the vast majority of the customer experience occurs online. Customers expect seamless, multi-channel technology platforms that employ modern design and user interface principles. These technology expectations are even higher for those customers who opt to start a digital-only relationship with a firm.
While all the incumbents in this report have invested considerable resources to develop the public side of their digital advice services, the same cannot be said for the private site experience. Only three firms (38%) have built distinct, standalone websites for their online-only managed account clients. Three others (38%) offer digital-advice-specific resources within the context of their full brokerage websites while two (25%) do not provide any unique account information or capabilities on their private sites for digital advice clients. Compared to startups’ private site experiences, incumbents’ private sites fail to emphasize the most crucial functions for a managed account holder: adding funds to the account and opening new goal-based portfolios. In addition, incumbents less frequently include functions such as performance reporting, portfolio projections, and money movement and allocation adjustment, capabilities frequently offered by startups.