While the mobile app has become the interaction channel of choice for many industries, utilization of wealth management mobile apps is among the lowest of all industries studied by J.D. Power.
According to insight provided in the preview of the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Wealth Management Mobile App Satisfaction Study,released today, concerns about security are likely affecting usage rates and result in negative influences on satisfaction and customer advocacy.
"The wealth management industry faces some key challenges when it comes to digital adoption with an older client base and a legacy service model that relies heavily on high-touch personal contact from an advisor," said Michael Foy, Senior Director of Wealth & Lending Intelligence at J.D. Power.
"However, to meet higher customer expectations for convenience and personalization while maximizing advisor efficiency and productivity, wealth firms must ensure that their mobile solutions are meeting expectations for ease of use, range of services and security."
Following are key findings of the study preview:
High net worth hold-ups: High net worth customers (those with $1 million or more in investable assets) are significantly less satisfied with their wealth mobile apps than other customer segments. There is a connection between affluence and age—as well as tech savviness—but wealth management firms, more than other industries, need to ensure their mobile experience is meeting the needs of the high net worth segment as well as younger, more tech savvy customers.
What, me worry?: Security matters. While more than half (55%) of respondents indicate they perceive the information on their mobile app is "very secure," anything less than that rating is seen as failure in the eyes of customers. Notably, 45% of customers effectively give their app a failing grade. Satisfaction among customers who say their app is "very secure" averages 895 vs. 788 (on a 1,000-point scale) among those who say it is less than very secure. Among customers who perceive the app is very secure, 71% say they "definitely will" recommend it. Among customers who have any doubts, that percentage drops to 29%.
User interface is a stumbling block for wealth apps: A common criticism among wealth management app users is that they are too text-heavy, lack visuals and have a dated look. Challenges with basic tasks materially reduce satisfaction and are likely contributors to customers not using mobile apps provided by wealth management firms. By contrast, top-performing banking and credit card apps make crucial interface updates more frequently and focus on clear, user-friendly design.
Advice still matters: What may not be intuitive is that a key mobile app satisfaction factor is the amount of advice and support a customer receives. In theory, a mobile app is a self-service experience. However, among customers who indicate having a personal relationship with an advisor or team satisfaction averages 857, while among those who indicate they have no advisor relationship or engagement with their firm overall satisfaction is significantly lower (817).
"Wealth management firms have set a high bar for the overall customer experience and it is critical that their mobile apps keep pace," Foy said. "Highly affluent customers are always on the go, have limited time and are using mobile apps in all aspects of their life, so they have high expectations."
The full inaugural study, complete with a list of award recipients, will be released in November. The study evaluates customer satisfaction with wealth management mobile apps based on five factors (in order of importance): range of services/activities; clarity of the information provided; ease of navigating; appearance; and speed of screens loading.
The preview of the 2019 U.S. Wealth Management Mobile App Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 2,478 full-service and self-directed wealth management firm customers. It was fielded in November-December 2018.
The 15 mobile apps evaluated in the study include: