Financial Services Firms Begin to Embrace Dashboards and Feeds, But What Does the Future Hold?

by on Jun 29, 2016


As financial services firms continue to fine-tune their mobile apps, they frequently look outside of the industry to find best practices. Influences can be seen in the way firms have approached the design, functionality and security of their mobile apps. Recently, several of the more innovative and forward-thinking financial services firms have embraced the concept of a “dashboard” as the main interaction-hub within their apps. An effective dashboard provides a single location where users can find relevant information and content aggregated from multiple sources or app sections. Alternatively, some firms are also toying with ways to provide users with account information outside of the mobile app. For example, standalone widgets for Apple and Android provide quick access to basic account details from the devices’ notifications sections. Firms will continue to experiment with ways to provide clients with account information when and where they want it. These developments point towards a larger trend – and loftier goal – of integrating account information with non-financial details from other apps that the user has downloaded.

Financial Services Firms Learn from Tech Innovators

Dashboards have been popularized by tech firms like Google, which offers its Google Now intelligent personal assistant. The mobile app version of the service allows users to perform standard Google search queries, but it also recognizes repeated actions that users perform and incorporates this data to display more relevant information in the form of “cards.” For example, Google offers individual, personalized cards for breaking news, sports scores, birthday reminders, nearby attractions, stocks and weather. Users can manually dismiss cards they are not interested in and the app will refrain from pushing similar content in the future. The app also integrates information from more than 100 third-party apps and can generate cards for companies such as Airbnb, Spotify and Lyft. While the comprehensiveness of Google Now’s dashboard and feed is far more advanced than what is needed in a financial services app, firms can and have embraced some of the ideas behind Google Now’s app design when implementing a dashboard into their own mobile app platforms. To explore how financial services firms can learn from other tech innovators, check out The Innovation Advantage report.

Google Now Images


Brokerage Firms Are Leaders When It Comes to Financial Services Dashboards

The best designed financial services dashboards provide centralized access to key account details and important information housed in different sections of the app. E*TRADE Financial and Wells Fargo Advisors have embraced this practice with their iPhone app dashboards. By default, the dashboards include account overview details (e.g., balances and day’s performance) and market overviews. Both apps also let clients customize their dashboard to include the most relevant information and exclude details that are not as important to them. As an example, Wells Fargo Advisors clients can include or exclude sections for a holdings snapshot, personal rate of return, watch lists, orders, recent activity, balance history, contact information, news and markets details. The main benefit of these dashboards is that they draw data from multiple sections of the app and provide clients with a one-stop shop for critical account and market information.

Wells Fargo Advisors Dashboard


Fidelity Abandons Its Dashboard Approach in Favor of a Social-Media-Influenced Feed

Fidelity was one of the first firms to offer a dashboard within its iPhone app; however, after a recent app redesign, the firm replaced its dashboard with a feed that provides much of the same information (e.g., highlights from markets, news and the client’s portfolio) but in a more interactive fashion akin to a Facebook or Twitter feed. Users can select topics of interest from more than 30 options that fit within four broad categories: main, sectors, markets, and investing and planning. Users can also alter the feed preferences and select “leading cards” (e.g., market countdown, U.S. market overview, futures, portfolio update, etc.) that have priority in the feed. The feed then incorporates portfolio holdings to provide market information and news based on securities held and identifies potential investment opportunities. For example, if users have Apple in a watch list, the feed may include the company quote and related articles that describe its performance or equity summary score. As users scroll through content, Fidelity continuously populates the feed with new sections it believes will be of interest.

Fidelity Feed


What’s Next?

The use of dashboards and feeds within financial services firms’ apps are just two examples of how mobile leaders are improving the utility and accessibility of their apps. Many brokerage and bank apps now include pre-login account snapshots that provide clients with quick access to account details (e.g., balances and recent transactions). In a similar vein, some firms have developed standalone widgets that allow clients to view important account information directly from their devices’ notifications sections. These techniques allow clients to access key account information on their own terms without requiring them to log in to a firm’s mobile app. To that end, we anticipate firms will begin to explore greater integration between their apps and other non-financial apps that users have downloaded.

Greater app integration will provide users access to important financial information and non-financial content (e.g., weather, traffic, calendar, shipping notifications, etc.) in a single spot, providing a more convenient and enriching user experience. Financial services firms can take two approaches to increasing their apps’ integration: providing access to third-party content within their proprietary apps or enabling third-party app services access to non-sensitive customer data. Firms that take the latter approach could conceivably build cards for third-party apps, like Google Now. The cards featured in Google Now function as containers for content that can potentially come from any third-party app. Similar to how some financial services firms currently use widgets, a firm could develop Google Now cards that display customers’ basic account information and a direct link to their own full mobile app directly within Google’s app. Apple’s recent announcement that it plans to open Siri to third-party developers also represents an opportunity for financial services firms to increase the integration of their apps. The move will allow firms to make their apps compatible with Siri, which could enable users to receive account information or initiate transactions by using their voice with the iOS personal assistant.

Increased integration could eventually make financial services firms’ apps less of an independent destination by allowing clients to access account information from other channels or sources. However, this does not mean that firms no longer need to prioritize the development and refinement of their apps. Financial services apps are, and will likely remain, a key component of every firm’s digital offering and a valuable resource for clients to leverage in order to complete complex transactions or dive deeper into specific account details. That said, firms that wish to provide clients with the best mobile experience will continue to look for ways to provide relevant information to clients on their terms, whether in a standalone app or an externally aggregated feed.