MyPrivateBanking Blog
Daily Comments on the World of Wealth Management

Archive for January, 2015

What wealth advisors can learn from Steve Jobs

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Reading about the more and more popular Steve Jobs schools or new iPad schools in the Netherlands it struck me that this kind of digitized scenario is exactly what happens or should be happening in the financial industry. Children attending these schools need no textbooks, blackboards, pencils, or fixed classrooms but only their iPad. They choose what they want to learn and in the rhythm they can do it. And most importantly, the educational apps are interactive, thus providing each kid with immediate feedback on his/her tasks, which changes the traditional teacher-student hierarchy into a closer student-coach relationship.

And this is also what financial advisory should be based on: coaching, advising, suggesting, making recommendations for the client while also allowing clients to use the same technology as the advisor does. Making sure the advisor has access to the latest tech solutions that bank clients are using, being able to offer flexible communication channels like social media or to share screens during a video conference with overseas clients.

Mobile devices and digital solutions reinvent the school for our children, offering them flexibility and enabling individualized learning, helping them stay focused on what they really want to learn. Applied to the advisory world, the advantages are the same: clients become empowered, stay up-to-date with developments and communicate effortlessly with their advisors from anywhere in the world while advisors and relationship managers morph into client coaches. Will banks and wealth managers have the courage to follow this new path?

Our upcoming report (March 2015) on mobile apps and digital solutions for wealth advisors will focus on the technology infrastructure required for a changing client relationship.


Should banks invest in Windows Phone apps?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

(by Francis Groves, Senior Analyst)

Windows 10, due for release on Wednesday January 21st, is being reported as Microsoft’s latest effort to establish itself in the smartphone business. At first glance this looks like a lost cause with sales of Windows smartphones globally only making up 3% of global sales in the third quarter of 2014. With such poor market penetration, many mobile app developers are simply not including Windows in their calculations. Certainly, MyPrivateBanking’s findings on app deployment by financial institutions suggest that Windows smartphone users are very rarely catered for.  In some cases Microsoft is reported to have been paying important developers to develop Windows phone apps.

In these adverse circumstances, Microsoft is doing what it can to make its mobile platform more appealing to app developers and mobile app market. With regard to Windows 10 this means that developers are going to be able to adapt compatible applications available on personal computers more easily to mobile use.

Many commentators seem to hold the opinion that nothing that Microsoft can do can overcome their original late entry into the mobile market and the relative failure of Windows smartphones ever since. A contrarian view might be that Microsoft still remains supreme in terms of work-place computing, even if not in terms of devices used by workers, and there might yet be ways to grow the market for Windows as a mobile platform by leveraging the average office’s reliance on Windows on its laptops/desktops.

To a large extent the success (or failure) of different platforms for mobile has been a matter of fashion. So which way does fashion flow, from experience of technology in a work context into leisure and recreational activities or the other way around? Sadly for Microsoft, we think that apps for recreation are the trendsetters BUT there may be hope for Windows in some contexts where the purchasing decisions lie with employers rather than individuals. Apps for staff ‘on the road’ or ‘in the field’ are big business though not as high profile apps for leisure. And, of course, increasing numbers of people have more than one smartphone in their possession; my work mobile - as opposed to my mobile - is common.

In terms of mobile apps for wealth management clients, we expect that they will continue to be content with apps for Android and iOS, where all their other after-work app requirements are being met. But if Microsoft were to come up with awe-inspiring developments in cloud computing  or Internet security or its natural language research program, Windows as a mobile platform could have a new start in life.


The changing role of wealth advisors

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Remember Inspector Gadget, the detective who solves cases with the help of high-tech devices? Totally futuristic in early 80s, the concept is easily applicable to today’s financial advisors. While particularly the advisory services for the mass-affluent experience a severe threat from the booming robo-advisor industry, we forecast a pressing need for HNW clients’ advisors to redefine their role, too.

In Private Banking, advisors or relationship managers as they are called there, will not disappear as the main interface to the high-net-worth client. Digital innovations like robo-advisory tools, mobile apps, video conferencing, or social media dashboards will support and improve the advisor’s work. Just like her cartoon sibling, the new advisor is combining her human benefits (the emotional intelligence) with the technological benefits (the data, analytical and visualizing part). The new advisor will be – like Inspector Gadget - inspired by Cyborgs, bringing together the best of human capabilities and machine intelligence.

The new advisor offers to her clients support and coaching across all channels in real time in an increasing personalized way. Big data tools help her to identify relevant information to recommend the right products at the right time. Social media compliance tools deliver the compliant framework for advanced client communication, and sophisticated video conferencing tools allow for flexible advice anywhere and anytime. Thanks to dedicated mobile apps, client meetings improve in terms of quality, engagement and efficiency.

Watch out for our upcoming report on digital interfaces for financial advisors this spring!


The coming of app search and what it means for banks

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

(by Francis Groves, Senior Analyst)

So far, it has been taken for granted that mobile apps cannot be searched effectively  by Internet search engines. App use and Internet use are still different activities, often complementary but not seamless. For ordinary lay-people using the Internet and mobile apps this characteristic unsearchability of apps is hidden in plain sight. It’s been taken for granted up until recently but things look as if they are about to change.

According to the New York Times (6th January, 2015) the race to develop app search tools is on, with major players such as Facebook and, not surprisingly, Google looking at ways to crack the problem of creating a generation of apps that are searchable in the same way that websites are searchable. There are also a number of start-ups, such as Quixey (who already have an app to search apps on a single device) and Branch Metrics, who are trying to develop the winning technology. The particular advance Branch Metrics have achieved is the ability of one app user to share in-app information over the Internet in such a way that their friend/contact can be directed to the appropriate app store page to download the app and access the app service for themselves. For the time being, searching across apps with an equivalent to Google Search is a challenge still waiting to be overcome.

Talk of searchable apps not only seems mind-boggling but calls into question our understanding of what mobile apps are. Up until now they’ve been tools to help us but now how should we view them.

The advent of searchable apps will also raise a whole range of questions relating to the use of mobile apps in financial services. For those financial service companies that have seen the wisdom of branching out into mobile apps, they have combined a few key advantages that could begin to be undermined by the arrival of app searching. Firstly, the confidentiality of one’s personal banking app suits the bank customer just fine. Like your wallet, no one is supposed to be poking around in your banking app except you. Just like a wallet, the contents of your banking app are probably terribly boring, pretty predictable and intensely personal and private. So, if apps become searchable, we’re going to have to become used to distinguishing between the new searchable apps and the ones that stay as private and secure as they were before (you hope). Could apps in general lose some of their attraction if some of them lose that dedicated-to-me quality? Users may not like having to identify and remember which apps are the new sociable (or leaky, depending on your point of view) apps and which are the safe ones.

And doesn’t the possibility of a universal app search mechanism ultimately mean that even apps that are currently equipped with robust security - as financial service providers’ apps should be - are going to become less secure in the end? At the very least, banks are going to have to shout louder to clients about their personal app security.

We’re not sure if 2015 will see a real breakthrough in app searchability - the existence of rival technologies may severely restrict the effectiveness of any one app search engines - but we certainly think that this is something that the finance industry should be on the look-out for.

Happy New Year.