The value of mobile apps to banking, credit card and brokerage customers is evident, and firms in these spaces have responded with innovative, forward-thinking offerings. Fund firms on the other hand have not been as quick to embrace mobile. Of the 26 firms covered by our Mutual Fund Monitor and Advisor Monitor research services, nearly half (46%) do not offer apps. Although this leaves the fund app marketplace relatively thin, fund firms have made mobile-friendly enhancements to their websites to improve the experience for clients on their mobile devices, particularly tablets such as the iPad.
Tablet-Friendly Fund Websites
Over the past year, a major trend across the fund firms we cover were website redesigns that feature larger, bolder images and more efficient use of screen space. Whether intentional or not, this had the effect of making some of these sites easier to view on tablets. American Century and BlackRock, which do not offer mobile apps, boast particularly tablet-friendly homepages that feature relatively large links and buttons useful for touch-screen navigation. When viewed on an iPad 2 in portrait layout, all site content fits nearly perfectly on screen, leaving only a footer and legal information “below the fold.”
American Century and BlackRock Homepages Displayed on an iPad
Interestingly, the most tablet-friendly website belongs to a firm that also has one of the better mobile apps on the market. In 2012, AllianceBernstein redesigned its website around a new and improved product explorer tool, which happens to work very well on the iPad. In fact, the fund explorer on the firm’s AB Connect app simply mimics that of the main website, providing a strong endorsement of the website’s mobile usability.
AllianceBernstein Fund Profile Pages on an iPad
If fund firms choose not to release dedicated mobile apps, they should at least consider making their website easy to view on mobile devices. Although mobile platforms such as the iPad have their share of technical and spatial limitations to consider, they also offer a level of convenience and interactivity that traditional computers cannot match. Firms that capitalize on these mobile traits will ultimately produce better and more tablet-friendly websites.