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Wall Street Moving Toward a Mobile First Approach

The popularity of smartphones and tablets has many financial services firms building apps specifically for mobile devices, while desktop apps are becoming an afterthought.

Drawbacks Of HTML5

While some firms are forging ahead on HTML5, a number of others have been hesitant to push forward with it, noting that in spite of the benefit of being able to develop for multiple devices at the same time, "it isn't a one-size-fits-all solution." This is true "especially since standards of different browsers have not been harmonized, so you'll get a different experience depending on what browser you're using," says Pershing's Mayer. As such, Pershing has opted for a hybrid approach, leveraging HTML5 from the mobile Web to work in native applications in iOS and Android, although the firm's app is "for the most part native," Mayer says.

Meanwhile, Pershing has been testing a screen-sharing app that will let an adviser who wants to have a completely paperless meeting bring two iPads along and have one of them control another device. "This can be particularly useful for financial advisers who want to take tablets to meetings with clients, and, for example, to enable an adviser to project [the app] on a TV screen at a client's home," Mayer adds.

Firms at the cutting edge of the mobile space are now looking to leverage specific tablet functionalities such as cameras, scanners and voice control. "The first generation of voice control is navigation. You can call a retail brokerage and say, 'I want 1,000 shares,' and it fills out your trade ticket," says Rich Bolstridge, chief strategist for financial services at Akamai, which develops software for Web content and application delivery.

[Capital Markets Outlook 2013: Mobile in a Millennial World]

"The second-generation voice command is text for speech and having a phone reading back to you. So you request a quote, and the phone will read it back to you," he suggests.

The mobile trend is destined to keep accelerating. In 2013, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most common way to access the Web, and by 2015 tablet shipments will account for 50% of portable computer shipments, according to Gartner.

As the race for mobile-savvy financial services customers accelerates, investment firms and brokerages that want to stay ahead of the curve will need to increasingly focus on allowing their customers to personalize their app experience, says Dan Wiegand, head of mobile research at Corporate Insight. Financial firms will also need to make sure they leverage the iPad's large screen size as much as possible and offer clients improved charting and research tools and various display options that aren't practical on smaller screens, or they will risk losing increasingly demanding clients to the competition.

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 April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio

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Daniel L.
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Daniel L.,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/2/2013 | 11:27:00 PM
re: Wall Street Moving Toward a Mobile First Approach
Many developers are transitioning from native to web technologies. LinkedIn's mobile app is 95% web and only 5% native. The mobile web is growing faster than we think. Also, Responsive design is becoming a major theme in 2013. Having a responsive website design is also best for SEO practices and for your users. Native apps are phasing out and this survey from mobile developers proves it.
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