October 06, 2011

Apple's products have changed the way even the driest bank or brokerage operates and thinks. Changes that just a few years ago would have been hard to imagine.

A few years ago, it would have been impossible to think that a 9.7-inch touch-screen tablet would be widely adopted by financial organizations on the look out for usually multi-million dollar cutting edge technology that could help their organizations improve their bottom line.

Yet in 2011, every Wall Street firm that wants to stay relevant, has an app for the iPad, from E*Trade, and TD Ameritrade to Dreyfus, a BNY Mellon Asset Management company, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Capital.

Excitement on Wall Street for Apple's first iPad, which cost a few hundred dollars, was palpable immediately after its release in 2010. Same with the first iPhone in 2007. Back in 2008, Robert Mazzarella, former Pyxis Mobile Chairman and CEO, noted that demand for mobile devices such as the iPhone was rising as traders sought increased efficiency. "It's about getting your data when you want it and where you want it," he said.

Banks, which are among the most security-fearing organizations around, have even started re-examining their policies on which mobile devices they allow their employees to use at work. Last year, Morgan Stanley said it was planning to let bankers 'Bring Their Own (Personal) Devices" and, with robust security policies in place, hook up their iPads, iPhones or other devices to the company network.

The iPad is also at least partly responsible for Wall Street's renewed focus on data visualization, too. Riding on the coattails of a more demanding consumer who expects the quality and excitement of iPad and smartphone visuals in even the driest of financial software applications, firms have started re-examining the way they design programs, and present data.

Still, as Jobs himself said in an interview with Wired back in 1996, "It's a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light -- that it's going to change everything. Things don't have to change the world to be important."

The iPad may not have revolutionized Wall Street, but Apple's innovations continue to be closely watched and adopted by even the most conservative banks on the Street.

Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in ...