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Digital divide in wealth management industry

|By Arabian Post Staff| There is a growing digital divide between those wealth managers who offer engaging and client-friendly websites that are continually updated and improved, and those who are lacking in a number of key areas. The quality of the websites of the latter group is, at best, stagnating, and mobile websites in particular remain a weakness.

These are the key findings of the new report “Websites for Wealth Management 2016 – The Digital Divide between Wealth Managers Deepens” for which the Swiss research company MyPrivateBanking Research analyzed and ranked, for the seventh year, the desktop and mobile websites of 35 leading wealth managers worldwide.

According to the research, less than half of the benchmarked wealth managers had consistently improved their website performance from year to year. The average mobile score for mobile websites remains with 50% of the possible points low; however, on a more positive note the number of wealth managers with no mobile offerings at all has declined from twelve to seven.

“Wealth managers are stumbling where other retail industries and FinTech players are striving to deliver great user experiences and apply the latest technologies to their websites,” states MyPrivateBankings’ senior analyst Emma Haffenden. “Around one third of the wealth managers we analyzed appear to be lagging their peers to such an extent that only a relaunch of their websites could enable them to catch up. The leading wealth managers however are beginning to form a breakaway group, having developed the skills to continuously improve their websites each year.”

The top performers continue to enhance and evolve their websites in an effort to keep pace with new technologies and the steadily rising bar of client expectations. ABN AMRO is the overall winner of MyPrivateBanking’s 2016 ranking with a total of 66 points (out of a maximum of 80), achieving this top spot for the third consecutive year. DBS holds onto second place with 63 points, closely followed by Charles Schwab with 62 points and Investec with 59 points. Barclays and Vontobel are ranked joint fifth with 57 points each.

Overall in this year’s survey, desktop websites are generally not keeping pace with user needs, and have suffered a loss of transparency regarding key performance measures. Only 37% of the available points were earned on average for disclosing assets under management, 39% for information on costs and fees for their services, and the poorest performing of all desktop website requirements is the inclusion of discretionary mandate performance, earning just 11%.

With respect to mobile websites, MyPrivateBanking sees it as a positive sign that most wealth managers now seem to understand that a mobile app is not a substitute for a mobile website, because mobile websites and mobile apps have distinctive use cases. The report finds improvements in all areas of the mobile benchmark due to the shift from dedicated mobile sites to responsive websites. This is especially true for the content evaluation, which stepped up from 57% to 64% of possible points. An area requiring attention, in MyPrivateBanking’s view, is mobile website interactivity, as with an average score of only 27% most firms are not enabling the basic capability to send/share documents, articles or multimedia content via e-mail.

“Wealth managers should continuously review the positioning of their website not only versus other digital touchpoints, but also the traditional and new competitors,” urges Emma Haffenden. “At a time when robo-advisors are attacking the traditional investment industry with a direct challenge on fees and transparency of portfolio returns, wealth managers’ websites should offer this openness as well.”

Analyzed Wealth Management Websites (Desktop and Mobile):ABN AMRO, ANZ, Bank of Singapore, Barclays, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, Charles Schwab, CIBC, Citi Private Bank, Commerzbank, Coutts & Co., Credit Suisse ,Danske Bank, DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, EFG Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, Investec, J.P. Morgan, Julius Bär, KBL, Lloyds Bank, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Pictet, RBC, Société Générale, TD Bank, UBS, Unicredit, Vontobel, Wells Fargo, Westpac.