Mobile app usage up, client satisfaction down: J.D. Power

With a new wave of young investors seeking out financial advice, wealth managers are leveraging mobile apps to move into digital planning. 

Across both do-it-yourself and advised investors, 33% say they’ve used their wealth management firm’s mobile app more frequently during the pandemic, according to J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Wealth Management Mobile App Satisfaction Study based on responses from 2,724 wealth management firms fielded from July to August.

Younger investors have led the trend, with 45% of millennial investors and 30% of Gen X investors saying they have increased their use of wealth apps this year.

Still, wealth app customer satisfaction falls behind other financial apps based on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale that grades the apps based on range of services, clarity of information, ease of navigating, appearance and speed of screens loading. Wealth apps overall satisfaction score clocked in at 849 compared with credit cards (865) and banking (852). 

The lower score is a result of less engagement from advisers to communicate with investors via a mobile app. Throughout the pandemic, only 2% of investors said they had communication with an adviser via mobile app or secure messaging. Adviser contact via the app is low industry-wide, as only 35% of profiled wealth apps offer chat functionality and just 41% support secure messaging, despite both being frequently requested features by users. 

Individually, wealth management apps performed well. JPMorgan Chase’s wealth app ranks highest in overall mobile app satisfaction (877). Wells Fargo ranks second (869), while ETrade (858) and U.S. Bank (858) tie for third. 

Charles Schwab (857), Fidelity (853), Merrill Lynch (852) and Morgan Stanley (852) followed suit, outpacing the industry average (849), according to the study.

“Firms have an opportunity to leverage their mobile apps as a powerful communications conduit between investors and advisers,” said Michael Foy, senior director of wealth at J.D. Power. “But most wealth app offerings are missing the mark. Advisers and their firms need to recognize that the mobile app is not a threat to the advisor’s value — it is an opportunity to increase engagement by meeting investors where they are.” 

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