Wealth apps get poor scores for client satisfaction: J.D. Power

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When it comes to client satisfaction, wealth management mobile apps are getting lapped by those offered by other industries. 

Full-service wealth apps ranked behind other segments like banking, credit cards and insurance, according to the latest J.D. Power survey. Even with significant investments into mobile app technology, which have improved engagement and created higher overall customer satisfaction scores, the user experience still falls well short of what clients get from top tech apps from Netflix Inc. and Alphabet Inc.

“In fairness to folks in wealth management, they have some unique challenges that not everybody else does,” said Michael Foy, senior director of wealth intelligence at J.D. Power. While the primary use case for most insurance apps is to make claim, there’s a much wider range of activities in wealth apps that have to be supported, such as trading, portfolio reviews and fund transfers, he said.

While firms are spending big on updates — with 31% introducing major feature updates this year — that number jumps to 33% for credit card apps and 50% for banking apps.

“Clearly, the investment that firms have put behind their digital strategies is having a positive effect on app user experience and overall utilization rates, but that same thing is happening everywhere, and some industries are just moving faster,” Foy said.

The software may simply be more complicated to build. For example, the use of data from different types of accounts makes aggregating the information complicated. The apps also have to be able to support complex functionality for tasks like communicating with advisers not to mention having to do all this while staying in line with compliance and regulatory guidelines. 

“Customer expectations for a seamless multi-channel experience are rising rapidly in line with significant investment and innovation for nearly every customer touch point across every industry,” said Amit Aggarwal, senior director of digital solutions at J.D. Power.

The most pressing issue, however, is the ability to create a direct line to human advisers, which has become a major pain point for users, according to the data. With wealth management clients skewing older than customers in other segments, full adoption of mobile apps may be a slower process and finding the right human touch to add to the mobile experience could become a crucial next step.

[READ MORE: 5 reasons why every app is becoming a financial services app]

“The key for wealth management firms to level up in this competitive environment is … making it easy and intuitive for investors to move seamlessly between the app and other digital or human channels,” Aggarwal said.

The good news is the number of customers using their wealth apps every day has increased four percentage points year over year, while clients using them multiple times per day has increased three percentage points. Overall, hours spent on finance apps is up 90% year over year, while downloads of online apps jumped 20%, according to a report by Bloomberg.

U.S. Bancorp Investments ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction with its wealth management apps this year, while Chase Mobile took second spot and Merrill Edge rounded out the top three.

The study is based on responses from 3,025 full-service and self-directed investors and was fielded in July and August.

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