MyPrivateBanking Blog
Daily Comments on the World of Wealth Management

MASTERING THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION – this was the slogan of this year’s Avaloq Community Conference. Besides presenting their impressing roadmap, clients and partners had the chance to attend live demos of exciting new tools and technological developments. Furthermore, there were several highly interesting presentations and panel discussions from Avaloq representatives, partners, and wealth management companies focusing on the digital transformation in banking and wealth management.

The main insights were:

Continuous experience across all channels are key. Continuous experience across all channels beats self-service/virtual branches (2nd) and collaboration tools on digital channels (3rd) in the race for banks’ digital strategy’s top priority according to the conference attendees’ voting.

Robo technology is no nice-to-have but the prerequisite for successful advisory. According to Thibaut Jaquet-Lagreze, Head of Marketing & Sales at Avaloq, the biggest costs are no longer caused by the back-end but by the front. The use of automated services (financial health checks, real-time market information, proposal generation, etc.) is the only way for financial advisors to serve a large number of clients and, thus, to generate margins securing their jobs.

Growing critical factors are agility and flexibility. Financial institutions and their clients are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to flexibility regarding the digital services. Here, Avaloq is a clear industry leader thanks to their unique Banklet™ technology. Barclays, whose wealth arm is relying on the Avaloq system, enable their clients to pick products and services from the Features Store to their accounts to allow for tailored solutions meeting clients’ individual needs (learn more in our upcoming report on Mobile Apps for Banking 2015 by end of September).

Vendors and banks are awaiting Generation Y. One common aspect of banks’ digital strategies was that Generation Y is just about to enter their client environment and that this leads to completely new challenges. Grown up with iPad, smartphones, and social media, young people expect their bank to offer them an integrated experience across all these channels to foster a personalized relationship and tailored wealth management services.

FinTechs’ influence is skyrocketing - crowdfunding and –lending are the hot trends. Total loans in crowdlending added up to $8bn in 2013 and are estimated to grow to $40bn in 2016 and to reach $1trn in 2025. Keep an eye on this trend and its effects on the banking industry and watch out for our new report on crowdfunding coming out this month!

Slim and integrated user interfaces are what banks should strive for. Integrated digitalization layers should serve all channels and all customers for building a common basis for internal and external customers, which significantly enhances communication. Moreover, to say it in CEO Francisco Fernandez’ words: the aim should be to “hide complexity, making it sexy to use”.


The smartphone business is booming with breakout successes like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and the mobile usage is growing at a fast-pace to the detriment of laptops/ internet from home use. It should not be surprising that criminals have also adapted to the new trends and more than 1.3 million unique smartphone attacks have been reported from January to October 2014.

While one of the main causes is the increasing amount of mobile transactions and payments, the multitude of digital communication tools like the real-time apps helping advisers improve communication with their clients also keep clients engaged with their mobile devices. High-net worth clients are attractive targets for mobile security breaches as they mostly manage their wealth while on the way and use unsecured Internet access points (see our report on the mobile behavior of the affluent and HNWI).

But what are the main factors driving security breaches of mobile apps in the banking field? MyPrivateBanking’s recently released report on Mobile Apps for Wealth Management 2015 found that secure client authentication is still being neglected by many wealth managers. Few of the evaluated wealth managers /private banks are using the gold standard to protect clients’ data by making use of a full two-factor authentication procedure plus adding a multi-layered anti-fraud framework. Striving to provide their clients with a convenient, easy-to-access information, some wealth management apps even allow users to log-in with only their 5-digits passcode thus ignoring the fact that these weak security measures make their clients easy prey for hackers who illegally try to access personal data.

One of the main areas of risk, which is often being neglected by banks, is that criminals are targeting not only the secured spaces where transactions are being made by clients but also other apps/features where they are able to identify personal data (for instance address, birthdate or trivial things like shopping coupons). Putting together this information can easily lead to so called identity theft, enabling criminals to break into even better secured systems.

Wealth managers should think hard about an integrated and broad security strategy, even if they have to sacrifice a bit of convenience for their clients to gain gold standard security.


Having just released the earnings report for Q2 2015 (Q3 2015 in Apple’s fiscal year), Apple pronounced some interesting results. While the company sold 47.53 million iPhones in the last quarter, the revenues derived from the iPad are continuing to decline: only 10.93 million iPads have been sold in Q2. There are still no numbers for the Apple Watch but we know that its launch has caused a serious hype, leading to a real race for Apple Watch apps among retail banks worldwide. However, after skyrocketing at the beginning, sales seemingly went down quickly according to Slice Intelligence.

So what’s the future for banking apps? We can definitely say that iOS and Android devices will continue to dominate the apps market, particularly in the banking sector. Particularly some private banks and wealth managers have in the past published some of their apps only on iOS assuming that wealthy clients will have a clear preference for Apple devices. Today, we can clearly refute this assumption with the exception of only a few local markets (Switzerland has been so far one of the few examples of strong iOS dominance). What will be interesting to see is the development among the respective devices and their screen sizes. Will the trend for bigger screens – enforced by the launch of the iPhone 6 Plus – elbow tablet devices out of the market or will there be a reversal in consumers’ taste such that phablets will definitely leave the stage in favor of a more diverse use of mobile devices? We are convinced that tablets will play a strong but clearly defined role in the world of banking apps. Sales of the iPad may take a dive but this has not necessarily implications for the usage frequency of tablets. It is more likely that this reflects that customers have longer intervals for buying a new tablet as compared to their smart phones; plus there is now ferocious competition in the tablet market, undermining the market share of the iPad.

However for the time being, smartphone apps are clearly in the lead and banks should focus on the development of apps, which work optimally on these devices. Particularly among the wealthier clients, however, tablet devices are just as popular for viewing investment portfolios, interactive graphics, articles, and video material. Hence, banks and wealth managers should closely watch market trends and listen to their customers to be able to react fast and adequately. Only time can tell what role smartwatches will play in the future but considering the Apple Watch has been the hot topic of the first half of 2015, we are currently taking a closer look at banking apps developed for smartwatches as an interesting add-on for our upcoming report on Mobile Apps for Banking 2015 (see last year’s edition here).


Evaluating the apps of the 30 leading wealth managers for our Mobile Apps for Wealth Management 2015 report (launched two weeks before), we were impressed by the rapid adoption of the smartwatch trend evolving to a major part from the launch of the Apple Watch. During the evaluation phase, several wealth managers were throwing their version of a wealth management smartwatch app into the market.

Given the usually slow progress of the wealth management industry in terms of digitization, this development is particularly noteworthy and it implies that the boom of smartwatch app has only just begun. Therefore, we also expect a dramatic increase of the number of banking apps in the retail sector. Starting our new project on the Mobile Apps for Banking 2015 report (see last year’s edition here), we are curious to see how banks are realizing their version of their banking app’s smartwatch counterpart. It is clear that the smartwatch banking apps’ core functions will mainly include features like notifications and communication. Especially in terms of communication, banks will face major challenges as this article describes.

We will be excited to shed a light on the developments and the industry best practices with regard to smartwatch apps for banking for the first time – so watch out for our 2015 report on Mobile Apps for Banking coming out this fall!


Given the recent waves of massive security breaches and the increasing data manipulation, high-net-worth clients are justified in being anxious about their personal data being stolen and used by hackers and fraudsters.

Banks and wealth managers continue to ignore the fact that their clientele and prospective clients do not want to lose control over their information. As our new report on Mobile Apps for Wealth Management 2015 shows, out of the evaluated mobile core apps of 30 leading wealth managers worldwide, only 40% use the app store to inform clients about security.

Security measures of most mobile banking apps are not clearly communicated in the available app stores. An accurate description of banking or trading apps should certainly make it clear how users’ personal data is being used and protected in the app.

Initiatives that already give users the right and ability to learn what security measures banks integrate in their apps are successful in inspiring a feeling of transparency and trustfulness. Keeping the language easy to read and reflected in a clear and concise style is key to inform about the app’s necessary high security and encryption standards.

Wealth managers need to understand that their wealthy clients expect to be informed about an app’s security means before downloading it.


Who will win the robo game? June 9, 2015 Posted in : Conferences

Steffen Binder, MyPrivateBanking’s Research director will be speaking next week at the InVest2015 conference in New York:

Session Description

Online advisory firms like Betterment, WealthFront and others hold a tiny fraction of total AUM, but there’s no doubt that they pose a threat to traditional wealth managers with some customer segments. MyPrivateBanking research has quantified the threat potential of 14 leading robo-advisors companies worldwide, according to 13 criteria. This session will examine which represent the highest disruptive threat to the wealth management industry, particularly their ability to win new clients, their marketing prowess and their deep pockets funding-wise. The analysis will also show the competitive reaction of existing wealth managers and how this will reinvent the whole wealth management industry.

200 USD discount with code “ROBOGAME”

And here you can find our latest research on robo-advisors.


Today I read that Audi will offer the new version of its A8 flagship model in 2016 with „piloted driving features”. Essentially the car will drive itself under certain circumstances, namely in traffic congestions on the highway. Google Cars have driven more than 1 million kilometers on public roads so far (with only a few minor accidents). It will be only a matter of time until auto-piloted cars will be available on the roads for everyday use. The industry is heavily pushing for a change of traffic laws and it seems that legislators will open up the roads in the near future. The benefits of self-driving cars are clear: fewer accidents, freeing up the driver to attend to other things while riding with her car and overall much smoother traffic and fewer traffic jams due to intelligent routing.

It appears to me that the wealth management industry is today at a similar junction and could push for the auto-piloted investor. But the industry leaders are more skeptical and not quite open to change - just the opposite of the car industry. The products are here - just think ETFs and passive, index-based investing. The technology has been developed: robo-advisors stand ready to help consumers get their investments right. The benefits are clear: Computers are much better investors than human beings.  Passive investing beats active investing in more than 80% of the cases. Algorithms have a much better appreciation of risk and return in financial markets than most private investors (and - I have to add - many professional wealth advisors, too).

But yet we see little enthusiasm in the global banking industry for automated, self-driving investments. The overwhelming majority of global banks leaves it to start-ups like WealthFront or Betterment to bring automated investing to the masses. A notable exception is the brokerage firm Schwab with its Intelligent Portfolio offer and a few online brokers.

It may be the case that banks and wealth managers are fearing that robo-advisors will put pressure on the fees for advisory services. But it should be clear to every industry participant that just as sure as self-driving cars will soon become a mass market, automated investing will be a success story in the financial industry. Why leave it to the start-ups and technology companies?


Working on our new report on mobile apps for wealth management (see last year’s edition here) we came across many different ways wealth managers are seeking to meet the mobile needs of their high-net-worth clients.

From our 2014 survey on mobile disruption in wealth management and other continuous research, we learned a lot about wealthy clients’ digital behavior and one major insight is that they are using different devices throughout the day for different purposes:

When on the go, clients need a mobile app to look up their account balances, make easy and convenient money transfers to their friends, and quickly check their portfolios and watch lists.

In the evening when at home, they are mainly using their tablet device for checking and analyzing their portfolios, making payments and executing trades. Additionally, this is the right environment for reading comprehensive research materials and expert commentary.

The tablet is the preferred device when meeting with their financial advisor, as well – checking their investment portfolios with their personal advisor is a basic part of the meeting.

Two possible ways to address these behavioral patterns are shown by Citi Private Bank and Deutsche Bank. Citi Private Bank offers two complementary core apps: the Citi Private Bank In View app is a dedicated wealth management app, allowing users to view their accounts and comprehensively analyze their portfolios with the help of rich graphics. At the same time, clients benefit from deep informational content. For their daily banking activities including credit card account views, mobile payments and check deposits, they can switch to the Citi Mobile UK app.

A different strategy is offered by Deutsche Bank. As an exceptional example, the Meine Bank app contains all relevant core features, including portfolio analysis and trading while working on smartphones as well as tablet devices. Additionally, Deutsche Bank launched a dedicated app for the Apple Watch to complete their digital strategy.

No matter if offering separate apps or a holistic wealth management app, wealth managers are strongly recommended to offer a unified user experience and branding across all digital interfaces. Additionally, they should provide for a sensible channel integration, allowing clients to easily switch media – including social media presences, websites, and mobile apps.

Watch out for the upcoming report on mobile apps for wealth management 2015 for more interesting results – coming up mid June!


Few wealth managers exploit the promotional potential their mobile app offerings provide. Evaluating the apps of the 30 leading wealth managers and private banks for our new report on Mobile Apps for Wealth Management 2015 (coming in June), leveraging the app to advertise the financial institutions’ products and services remains a surprising area of weakness.

While most wealth managers are still seeing their mobile app or websites just as a transactional tool, some players are already reaching a new level in mobile advertising. As this new type of voice-controlled mobile advertisement by Edelman Financial shows, the future of interactive ads has already begun and customers are becoming attracted and involved in a totally new way. Private banks and wealth managers may find these interactive features too intrusive. However, mobile apps and websites are great platforms to interact with the client (and not only via payment or brokerage transactions). Mobile touch points are great to advertise one’s services and showcase the bank’s research. But the rules of the game are very different from the times when clients used to look at printed brochures or brochure-like websites. Voice control is just one way to make it much easier for your client to get in touch, receive an offer or trigger another activity.


In June, we will again publish a new edition of our report on Mobile Apps for Wealth Management 2015 (see last edition here). At this early stage of evaluation, we are truly impressed by the efforts of the most innovative wealth managers and private banks over the course of last year.

Here are only a few areas, where some wealth managers already show great performance:

Apps for smartwatches. With the launch of the Apple Watch, a new era of wearable devices has heralded and, actually, there are some early birds adopting this trend.

Personalization. We see a great movement towards an individualized user experience thanks to customizable dashboards, schemes, and other user preferences.

App presentation. Demo accounts or videos, great and interactive websites, interactive tours and user guides – several wealth managers fully exploit marketing potentials for presenting their mobile app offerings.

Utility tools. Contributing to wealthy clients’ demand for convenience, some apps already excel thanks to sophisticated utility tools. Besides commonly known currency converters, elaborate financial planning tools are entering the space.

Check out our website for the latest research in the digital world of wealth management and private banking.