Investor demand for equal web and mobile digital brokerage capabilities is at an all-time high. Mobile apps are now one of the primary channels that clients use to manage their finances, with usage increasing by 354% in the last five years. As more investors become mobile-first users and engagement with brokerage apps continues to rise, clients increasingly expect to have mobile access to all of the capabilities available to them online. This includes a comprehensive set of account information, robust trading capabilities and a full suite of cash management features.

Given the importance of functional consistency across platforms, Corporate Insight conducted a recent report that reviews digital brokerage capabilities from 18 industry-leading firms. Our report focuses on any gaps between the online and mobile channels. We specifically focus on account information, trading and money movement, some of the most highly utilized areas of brokerage websites and apps, according to our 2019 Investor Survey.

Digital brokerage capabilities for account info, trading and money movement vary, hybrids lead the pack

Overall, we found that the level of cross-platform consistency varies by brokerage, with hybrid leaders such as E*TRADE, Fidelity and Merrill Edge providing mobile apps that feature much of the functionality of their desktop platforms:

  1. When it comes to account information, most firms consistently provide basic account details such as total unrealized gain/loss and total account value, though more granular details such as lot-level cost basis and realized gain/loss information are often lacking from the mobile channel.
  2. Firms typically offer limited mobile trading experiences. Only two brokerages (13%) offer the same tradeable asset types via desktop and the mobile app.
  3. As for money movement, fund transfer capabilities are common among brokerage apps—available within 17 firms (94%)—though are typically limited relative to the online channel, with only two firms offering comprehensive cross-platform capabilities. The ability to pay bills via mobile is rarer, available within the apps of eight of 14 firms (57%) that offer this capability online.
Vanguard online vs. mobile gap analysis of digital brokerage capabilities
Vanguard Desktop Site and Mobile App Balance Performance Charts

We issue key recommendations for a seamless web-to-mobile investor experience

The following best practices emerged in our online versus mobile gap analysis of firms’ digital brokerage capabilities:

  • Build out website capabilities to align with the mobile app
  • Allow clients to view a consistent set of account details regardless of channel
  • Design a mobile trading experience that mirrors desktop capabilities
  • Offer comparable mobile cash management experiences

Subscribers can view the full report, which offers a gap analysis of online versus mobile digital brokerage capabilities, on our client portal. For access, or for more competitive intelligence on the online experience that brokerage firms provide investors, check out Corporate Insight’s e-Monitor research service offerings.