Wealth Managers Urged To Improve Mobile Websites To Stay Competitive; ABN AMRO Gets Top Marks

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 9 September 2015

Wealth Managers Urged To Improve Mobile Websites To Stay Competitive; ABN AMRO Gets Top Marks

A global survey of banks' mobile websites and apps says the industry has more work to do in withstanding future competitive challenges.

Netherlands-headquartered ABN AMRO, UK/South Africa’s Investec and Singapore’s DBS Bank rank first and joint second respectively in a global league table of desktop and mobile websites of 40 of the world’s leading wealth managers worldwide.

According to MyPrivateBanking Research, which produced the rankings, it is concerned about the slow pace of firms in developing mobile websites. However, the firm added that it is cautiously optimistic about development on the desktop website side.

“The global leaders in wealth management and private banking are falling behind instead of moving forward with their mobile websites,” Steffen Binder, research director of MyPrivateBanking, said.

The report adds to the chorus of calls on wealth managers to step up their digital efforts to withstand the potential challenge of “robo-advisors” – organisations using fully- or semi-automated methods of setting investment choices and forms of advice.

Strong expectations
“Moreover, despite that, high net worth clients have strong expectations with regard to digital and mobile touch points. The quality of mobile websites is still alarmingly low,” Binder continued.

The quality deficit is alarming, the report said, because players such as robo-advisors and global fund managers are entering the mobile Internet with their own new platforms and could exploit digital opportunities. 

The report is the sixth annual global ranking of the desktop and mobile websites of 40 leading wealth managers worldwide. The report puts Societe Generale fourth, with UniCredit and Coutts sharing the fifth place ranking. 

The report is called Wealth Management Websites for Wealth Management 2015 - Desktop and Mobile Sites: essential elements of a successful digital strategy.

ABN AMRO successfully defended last year’s top spot and is the overall winner of this year’s ranking with 90 points out of a maximum of 100 (desktop and mobile websites combined). It also tops the field in the rankings for mobile and desktop separately.

Runners-up for best mobile websites are DBS, UniCredit, BMO and Vontobel. 

The evaluation of desktop websites has revealed some progress in most areas, especially with regard to interactivity and social media, where overall performance has increased from 56 per cent to 63 per cent. An area that remains problematic is the provision of information about fees and prices as well as performance data for portfolios. In this category the overall scores are still below 50 per cent, the report said. Given the recent wave of automated online investment platforms by robo-advisors such as WealthFront, Betterment and many others, who boast of transparency and ease of use, MyPrivateBanking said this lack of information could soon become the dangerous “Achilles heel” of traditional private banks.

Gap is narrowing
The gap between desktop and mobile is also closing. Average mobile scores increased from 29 per cent to 43 per cent of possible points. The number of wealth managers with no mobile offering at all has dropped to 12, which is still almost one-third of the leading wealth managers worldwide.

Most mobile websites are a condensed version of the desktop website, not offering any mobile-specific features such as GPS navigation or other location-based information, the survey found.

“Many wealth managers give the impression that they do not understand that a mobile app is not a substitute for a mobile website,” Binder said. “But mobile websites and mobile apps have distinctive use cases. The slow adoption of mobile websites has left the wealth management industry far behind other industries, such as the luxury goods sector, which targets a similar user segment."

The analysed firms are: ABN AMRO, ANZ, Barclays, BBVA, Bessemer Trust, BMO, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, Charles Schwab, CIBC, Commerzbank, Coutts, Credit Agricole, Credit Suisse, DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, EFG Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, Investec, JP Morgan, Julius Baer, KBL, Lloyds, Lombard Odier, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Northern Trust, Pictet, RBC, Santander, Société Générale, Standard Chartered, UBP, UBS, UniCredit, Vontobel, Wells Fargo, Westpac.

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