Until recently, wealth management companies were reluctant to create digital interaction and tools for customers or advisers. As an industry, with the value traditionally built on long term one-on-one relationships with their clients, part of this worry was whether digital tools may be perceived as a replacement of physical advisors for a mobile counterpart.

For a vast majority of wealth management firms, the challenge of adapting the structure and processes for mobile was another key factor initially limiting mobilisation. Security, integration and change management were all legitimate concerns, both to the firms and their end clients. Often working with legacy backend systems and old school processes, wealth management firms were also often unable to adapt to new technologies, even if they wanted to, without investing heavily in new infrastructure.

These firms also knew that they couldn’t afford to not deliver new tools and new, better ways for their clients to interact and manage their wealth portfolios. Today, in a world where vast amounts of financial data can be processed faster than ever before, failing to have the systems in place to support such data and use it to help recommend or make better investments or financial decisions, can mean being left behind.

According to a 2014 large enterprise survey by Ovum, 60% of wealth management firms planned to invest in mobile solutions over the course of the next 14 months. Therefore, over the past 18 months, it is wealth management firms that have come to dominate where conversations are happening and where work is coming from.

Customers are expecting to be able to manage, make changes to and understand their financial investments whilst on the move. Wealth management firms, as with virtually every other part of the financial industry, are rapidly changing their strategies to embrace digital engagement.

Independent financial advisers, wealth managers and financial planners are increasingly looking to differentiate between serviced and self-service clients. Lower-value clients, who may only periodically tweak their financial portfolios, are prime candidates for mobile self-service. However, higher net worth clients require a different approach to support client interactions.

Companies such as Equiniti, SEI and Intelliflo have embraced mobile to provide their clients and end customers with the tools they need to manage their wealth more effectively. Through our work with these firms, advising on strategy, integration, development and deployment, we are seeing mobile apps increasingly being built and used to inform financial planning and performance management. Additionally, apps are helping to enable compliance with regulations across different jurisdictions.

The main challenge in developing next-generation apps, is the need to go beyond enabling single interactions, to sustaining relationships over many years. Many apps, which have morphed from early web-based solutions, have yet to realise the full potential of mobile capabilities.

To address this long-term engagement challenge, app capabilities should include mobile client on-boarding, secure access to documentation, ad-hoc reporting and scenario-based financial planning. This is what we are working towards and how we are helping companies to innovate with mobile.

By delivering insight with greater ease, client or consumer facing, apps help to change spending behaviours to capture saving opportunities on the go.

We can see evidence of the impact of this through our work with Equiniti. Since the launch of the new Compendia self-service, Equiniti saw an increase in members registering for self-service from 8,329 in January 2014 to over 28,000 by the end of 2014, a 238% increase. On average, around 3,000 members now access their pension each month (compared to 500 in 2013), a 500% increase. Now over a year later, this has improved even further.

Building on this, companies have the opportunity to integrate with back-office systems, communication and collaboration tools, such as secure instant messaging and video conferencing, to better support relationship and money management.

In the case of Intelliflo, by turning to mobile, the firm has been able to provide their clients with a higher level of engagement where clients are about to communicate directly and securely with their wealth managers without having to go through switchboards or even direct dials to speak to their advisors.

As the traditional client for a wealth management firm is over 50, these are often busy people who are time starved. Spending time making appointments with, or having phone calls with wealth advisors, isn’t the best optimisation of their time. By adopting this approach, and thereby facilitating easy engagement with advisors, wealth management firms are able to build stronger, long term relationships with clients using mobile to bring the gap closer together.

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