At the leading edge of every employee-led workplace technology revolution is usually a handful of motivated people who are constantly experimenting with tools and technologies to improve their work. In the early ‘90s, millions mastered the venerable PC and especially Microsoft Excel - partly because for the first time they could quickly collect and process thousands of data points, present it in ways that they could make sense of it, and make better decisions faster. The result: they could work in new ways that were previously impossible, and they could be more productive and valuable for their employers. In short, these employees were the leaders and innovators in their organizations.
In 2014, these engaged employees' time and energy is going toward finding tools that will help them stay productive as they become more mobile, and their work and personal lives continue to blend. For example: Desktop computer usage as a percentage of the work day is declining, and for at least one hour each work day, 13% of global information workers now use a tablet for work - primarily so they can get work done from home. Forrester believes that investments in mobility technology will increase through 2015 and beyond.
It's still early in the mobile investing game, but with investor expectations rising and substantial business at stake, digital wealth management teams know they must improve their portfolios of mobile sites and apps. To help, Forrester developed the Mobile Wealth Management Functionality Benchmark. Early this year, we published our first scorecard of five global leaders. We found that:
E-Trade and Fidelity lead with strong account information and transactional functionality. Both firms excel in the presentation of portfolio information. E-Trade enables clients to see their portfolios' historical performance charted against major US stock indexes. Fidelity's visual display of balances, holdings, and market summaries is best-in-class. Most firms miss the opportunity to use graphics to let investors visualize their portfolios.
Cortal Consors, TD Direct, and Merrill Lynch all exceed minimum standards. Cortal Consors in France and TD Direct support a wider range of products than US firms because European investors often invest beyond their home market. Merrill Lynch, the only full-service firm tested, makes it easy to reach a rep.
Opportunities to improve include mobile-optimized websites, research, and ease of use. We believe that most firms will arrive at a mobile strategy that includes websites optimized for delivery through mobile devices. But none of the five firms we reviewed offer mobile-optimized websites. None offer stock screeners or in-depth research reports through their smartphone apps. None offer ease-of-use features like contextual help.
Most wealth management firms have gotten a pass on mobile, because the people with the most money – older Boomers and Seniors – are the ones least likely to use the mobile Web or mobile apps.
But that pass is expiring. Mobile is exploding, and even the older investors are part of the surge. As we show in the just-published The State of Mobile Investing, 11% of online adults with investment accounts are now mobile investors, up from 8% six months ago (see Figure 1). Two thirds of these mobile investors use their mobile devices to check investment account balances. Half get stock quotes or other market information via mobile. A quarter are mobile traders.
Figure 1: More Than One In 10 Investors Is A Mobile Investor
As channel managers at investment firms scramble to map out a mobile strategy, they face one particular dilemma: mobile apps or Mobile Web sites? While downloadable apps command lots of attention today, we believes that the mobile Web will remain a critical delivery method for the foreseeable future. The simple answer to the app versus mobile Web debate is: both. We recommend that firms develop a high-quality dedicated mobile Web to get the broadest possible reach, and choose a single platform on which to pilot downloadable apps. Then buckle your seat belts! The pace of mobile market innovation won’t slow down for the next few years.