Measuring the pace of change in mobile apps among three financial service verticals

Mobile is more important than ever for financial service firms—you could say this every year since the iPhone debuted in 2007, and every year you’d be right. You’ll also probably be right in the future. More and more financial service industries, and more parts of the financial services industry, become app-first as time goes by.

But how important is mobile to different industries right now? And what is the pace of change for apps among different financial service verticals? These are the questions CI’s research teams have been answering in our Pace of Change reports. These 16 reports (and counting) examine how quickly desktop and mobile experiences change in the financial service verticals we cover, including those in banking, credit card, insurance and healthcare.

Here we’ll take a look at findings from three Pace of Change reports, detailing the latest in mobile experience from P&C insurance, mobile finance and retirement.

Insurance mobile app trends: An industry seeking consensus

The insurance industry has seen dramatic change over the last half-decade, with a mobile app going from a bonus to a critical must-have for car insurers. Our latest policyholder survey found that 38% of policyholders log into their firm’s mobile app once a week or more. Additionally, the percentage of users citing their insurer’s mobile app as a reason for changing insurers rose 4 percentage points over the last two years. Both of these percentages should continue to rise. Usage based insurance and telematics will push car insurers even more toward mobile apps, increasing the importance of the mobile experience overall.

Our latest report found insurers focusing their mobile efforts on account information and design/navigation. Notably, despite the energy put into design and navigation, the car insurance industry has yet to settle on a set design for mobile apps. Firms are searching for answers both in the focus and structure of their apps. State Farm, for example, uses its navigation to direct users to billing information, while Travelers highlights policy information first. The main navigation structure also varies. Some firms introduced bottom horizontal navigation in their revamps. Others introduced hamburger menus or made copies of the mobile browser site for the app.

For more on the state of mobile in the insurance industry, see our blog post here.

Mobile finance app trends: Mostly tweaks with the occasional overhaul

Our survey of mobile finance apps shows a more mature industry than insurance and retirement. This makes sense: Mobile finance, which includes bank and brokerage firms, were among the first adopters of mobile apps. Our latest pace of change report from our mobile finance research team found that firms focused on account information, account servicing, and design and usability. These changes tended to show more herding and were less drastic than the changes in other industries, demonstrating that mobile finance is ahead of other sectors. Firms instead either tweak or adopt new technology, like biometric login and virtual assistants, as they appear.

We’ll break down the trends in these three largest areas below:

  • Account information: Our latest report found that this is where most of the competition on mobile is happening. In particular, firms are looking into creating comprehensive experiences that show a user’s entire financial picture. Firms focused on adding account aggregation features and money management tools, with half of all firms making more changes in these areas than any other category.

This graph shows a breakdown of changes by significance and by firm in our mobile finance pace of change mobile report

  • Account servicing: Firms made 119 changes to account servicing in our latest report, with nine firms making changes we identified as high significance. The areas of greatest focus included virtual assistants and profile-management capabilities, indicating an adoption of new AI technologies and expanding customization.
  • Design and usability: This category covers everything from navigation overhauls to small improvements to usability. Two firms, KeyBank and Wells Fargo, switched to bottom horizontal navigation. Fifth Third made cosmetic changes to its login screen and main menu which nonetheless made the app appear more modern to users.

Retirement mobile app trends: Firms test the waters

The retirement industry showed increased interest in improving their mobile offerings but few trends emerged as dominant. Rather, the industry saw firms updating their apps in a variety of areas. Navigation and design, profile management, transactions and account information all saw similar numbers of changes in our analysis of the industry. Retirement firms made fewer changes than those in mobile finance or insurance, although when firms made changes, they tended to be more significant than those in other verticals.

Design and navigation was a slight leader, as is expected—as mobile apps in general are less mature than websites, firms continue to revise and revamp their offerings to adapt best practices. Three firms made significant design enhancements, which include revamped home screens, new navigation and branding updates. John Hancock also introduced a whole new participant app, with account information, transactions and education. Other firms introduced quality of life improvements, such as dark mode or landscape modes.

The retirement industry also showed an interest in supporting Spanish speakers on mobile. Three firms added Spanish language support to their apps. Principal and Prudential now allow users to switch their language settings on the login and settings screens, while Empower also supports Spanish language, but users must change their device’s language settings. We’ll be on the lookout for more language support changes from retirement firms.

These screenshots show Spanish language options from Prudential and Principal
Principal and Prudential Spanish Language Options

Learn more about CI’s subscription and custom research options in Insurance, Mobile Finance Apps and Retirement and contact us for full versions of these reports or other pace of change reports on financial service apps and desktop. And view our Insights section for more on all our cross industry research.

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