Working on our upcoming report on “Mobile Apps for Financial Advisors” I couldn’t help but notice the ongoing debate about which kind of app to use. At the first glance it’s a fast told story: you can either go mobile with a native, a web-based or a hybrid app.
Native apps are written to their specific platforms like iOS or Android and are easily found in each platform’s app store. Native apps do not depend on Internet connectivity, which is an important advantage for financial advisors - just think about visiting your client at home with your first question being: “How is your Wifi password? My iPad is disconnected!” In addition, native apps allow for the use of elaborate graphics. One of the major drawbacks, however, is that their development is comparatively expensive and time-consuming.
With HTML5-based apps advisors can use their app on any device. Screen size and operating system do not matter. Also, app content can be found by search engines, which pleases the marketing manager. The problem with browser-based apps is, however, that the implementation may vary across browsers and platforms, native device features such as camera or geolocation cannot be used and, because an Internet connection is required, the app performance might be slower and runs the risk of breakdowns. An even more important argument for financial advisors, however, is that unlike native apps, web-based apps lack secure offline storage.
For those who wish to use their device’s features but are looking for a cheaper alternative that works offline as well, there is a compromise: hybrid apps combine advantages of both native and HTML5, though problems might appear due to the fact that they use the browser natively installed on the device, which might lead to differences in the way the content is displayed.
Actually, among the mobile solutions we are examining for our upcoming report there is a colorful multitude of approaches. In the end the wealth manager is spoilt for choice when it comes to priorities: if you want marketing leverage, sophisticated design features and quick penetration of your target client segments you probably better go for native apps. But if you prefer flexibility and lower development costs, a browser-based HTML5 solution can offer you more bang for the buck.