September 2017 – Digital Advice on The Go: Private iPhone App Overview

As incumbent brokerage firms continue to build out their digital advice offerings, the mobile platform represents a critical resource in need of further development. In Corporate Insight’s 2016 Retail Investor Survey, 53% of our Robo Embracer respondents (i.e., investors using or very interested in using a robo service) indicated that their brokerage firm’s mobile capabilities are “very important” or “extremely important” to them compared to only 26% of the general investor population that said the same. This high value in mobile technology is also reflected in Robo Embracers’ behavior, as we found that they are much more likely to use a mobile device to manage their finances than the rest of the population. Eighty-three percent (83%) of Robo Embracers logged into their brokerage accounts via a mobile device in the 12 months prior to completing our survey, compared to just 45% of the rest of the investor population. Though digital advice offerings are primarily used for long-term investment goals (e.g., retirement), it would be a serious miscalculation to interpret that fact as a reason to forego investment in the mobile channel. It may be true that managed account clients do not need access to on-the-go transaction capabilities, but that does not mean these digitally savvy investors will not expect a modern, relevant mobile app experience to monitor their portfolios.

Unfortunately, few incumbents in this report seem to prioritize the mobile channel for their digital advice clients. Only two incumbents (25%) offer distinct, standalone iPhone apps for their online-only managed account clients. The other six simply display digital advice clients’ portfolio information in the context of the self-directed brokerage app, with no unique information displays or capabilities. Compared to startups’ app experiences, incumbents’ apps fail to emphasize crucial functions and account details for digital advice clients, like goal tracking, deposits, portfolio risk strategy, allocation displays and projection tools.