Mobile trading surges, but are brokerage apps up to the task?

Corey Limmer by on May 10, 2017

A strong brokerage app can be a key differentiator for attracting and retaining clients, especially younger and tech-focused users. Brokerage apps have come a long way from when they were first introduced and now give clients an easy way to manage their accounts, while providing a full suite of tools and capabilities in the palm of the user’s hand. A recent TD Ameritrade press release announced a record-breaking number of mobile app users this past quarter, illustrating that users have a growing comfort with mobile as a primary platform. TD Ameritrade now averages 302,000 mobile app users per day, up from 253,000 just one year prior. TD noted that they see roughly 111,000 trades placed through mobile apps per day, equivalent to 22% of its total daily trading – an increase of 344% since 2012. This trend is driven by the crucial Millennial demographic, who reportedly perform 42% of their trades on a mobile device.

TD Ameritrade’s impressive milestones illustrate the importance of a comprehensive mobile experience that matches, or, perhaps even surpasses, what can be found on a website. Unfortunately, many brokerage firms have yet to come around to this reality and truly embrace mobile as a primary platform for client interactions. Findings from Corporate Insight’s Mobile Brokerage Audit demonstrate that most firms still have room for improvement if they want to provide a mobile experience that meets client expectations. Our Mobile Brokerage Audit evaluates the competitive landscape to help brokerage firms understand how they fare against each other across all major mobile capabilities, like account information, research and trading. Findings from our most recent Audit found that firms only averaged a score of 1.99 out of 4.00 for their mobile platforms (grades are assigned on a 4-point scale, where Poor = 1, Fair = 2, Good = 3 and Excellent = 4).

Fortunately, firms that offer trading through their mobile apps are providing users with well-designed platforms. The average score for trading in our Audit was 2.87, with the top performing firm earning a 3.82. The firms that have truly embraced mobile as a viable trading platform allow their clients to trade a range of products including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and options. The order entry interface is a key component of making users comfortable trading from a mobile device. It must be streamlined with a design that provides users with adequate account details and trade ticket features that make submitting a trade as easy as possible. Best practices usually come from hybrid firms like E*TRADE that allow users to easily switch between accounts within a unified trade ticket. E*TRADE’s app allows clients to trade stocks, options, mutual funds and conditional orders. The trade ticket also displays key account balances (including both margin purchasing power and non-margin purchasing power) at the top of the interface, dynamically loads streaming security quote data and includes a shares calculator.

E*TRADE Financial Trade Ticket

Firms must be prepared to meet the demands of the increasingly mobile-centric market if they wish to remain competitive in the mainstream brokerage industry. This means allowing clients to perform the tasks they would normally complete on a desktop site within a compact, intuitive mobile interface. Learn more about how your firm’s offerings compare to industry leaders with Corporate Insight’s Mobile Brokerage Audit.