Technology

EXCLUSIVE: Study Finds Patchy Quality Of Features Behind Wealth Manager Website Logins

Eliane Chavagnon, Editor Americas, 14 December 2015

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An analysis of 12 global wealth managers suggests that they are still not up to speed on the overall quality of their secure websites, particularly in the areas of trading and interactive tools.

Wealth managers' websites – which require a client login – are generally weak in terms of trading and interactive tools, mediocre in banking and payments, and strong in thought leadership content, according to a global report launched today.

MyPrivateBanking, the Swiss firm, analysed the features and functionalities of the online and mobile client apps of 12 wealth managers: Barclays, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, Citi Private Bank, Coutts, Credit Suisse, DBS, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Société Générale, UBS and US Trust. It praised UBS, DBS and Citi Private Bank for offering the “most advanced secure online presences” of all the candidates.

In explaining what set the top three apart from the rest, Emma Haffenden, a senior analyst at MyPrivateBanking, told this publication: "The percentage coverage of the capabilities defined in our evaluation framework is an important indicator, but also, it’s the nature and extent to which these are implemented that must also be factored in. Using one example, all firms have some form of ‘client document vault’ but Citi has made this a truly collaborative secure space by seamlessly integrating chat, co-browsing and video with the banker, managing a wide range of document types (not just simple statements) in an attractive user interface."

There is, however, no single wealth management institution yet that brings together state-of-the art design, excellent client experience and a full range of key functionalities, Haffenden said. Indeed, many firms “have not yet managed to escape the 'retail consumer look-and-feel' in their digital touch points,” according to the report, Behind the Login of Wealth Managers’ Websites 2015 – Decoding the Client Experience. (For the study a secure website/presence was defined as the interface accessed via a public website - open to all - only after authenticating as a client of the wealth manager.)

As mentioned above, the 12 wealth managers analysed fared well in terms of their thought leadership and wealth management expertise, having fulfilled around two-thirds of these related capabilities. They were graded as “mediocre” in banking and payments, however, scoring only 45 per cent.

The biggest areas of weakness were in trading and interactive tools. Just over a fifth (21 per cent) of trading capabilities that allow clients to control direct investments were covered, while interactive tools for “scenario analysis” and decision support also emerged as a neglected area, at only 31 per cent.

“Modern online services should mean that clients receive an enhanced level of service; for example, rather than having separate apps for banking, trading and research (potentially from different parts of the bank) these capabilities and more should be integrated into one experience on the website/mobile app,” said Haffenden, speaking about these inconsistencies.

Recommendations

Based on its findings, MyPrivateBanking offered three main recommendations for wealth managers looking to boost the quality of their secure websites.

The firm said that banking, brokerage and payments are “mandatory features”, particularly in the mobile channel. Additionally, it highlighted that initial efforts have ended up providing clients with a “smorgasbord of customisation options and settings,” but noted that customisation is ultimately limited as it is down to the user to invest effort in making the necessary choices. On a final note, MyPrivateBanking said the visibility of, and access to, wealth management expertise tends to be separate from portfolio views and secure client vault/inboxes. Instead, wealth managers need to master a “seamless, real-time advisor collaboration” through instant messaging and video and screen sharing facilities, it said.

When asked by this publication how big an investment would be needed for a wealth manager to fulfill all the key criteria, Haffenden highlighted that it of course depends on the firm’s existing technology and infrastructure.

"However, as fintech start-ups are proving every day, you can have agility without massive investment," she said. "Some recommendations that we include would cost as much as a small fix/enhancement. Compliance aspects of the solution probably cost more than the implementation of the IT. There are cultural and operational impacts that we touch on in the report as well, for example having effective training and inclination in the front office to promote the online services."

MyPrivateBanking explored 15 secure online and mobile presences of 12 wealth managers globally for the report. Strengths and weakness were analysed based on 60 criteria and grouped into eight categories.

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