Banks are finally taking note of their private banking clients' appetite for wealth management smartphone apps that allow them to track their portfolios almost in real-time.
Despite demand from investors for such apps, wealth managers have been slow to embrace smartphone apps for their clients due to security concerns but also, oddly, to a misconstrued impression that private banking clients do not want that kind of relationship with their bankers.
Still, it looks like private bankers are now coming round to the idea. The PricewaterhouseCoopers Asia Pacific Private Banking Survey 2011 found that nearly 50 percent of private banks expected to use mobile technologies over the next two years, the New York Times reports.
In a sign that private bankers might finally be catching up with the times, 35 percent also said that in the next couple of years they expect to interact more with their clients -- wait for it -- through social media.
From the New York Times:
"I think banks will have to go that way," said Nick Pollard, chief executive of RBS Coutts Asia. The venerable British private bank is using YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to reach out to its clients; a smartphone app is in the works.JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and UBS are part of a small group of banks that are now offering apps to their wealth management clients.
"It's less about today's clients and more about tomorrow's clients," he said. "Whether we like it or not, this generation and certainly the next one has no boundaries when it comes to accessing information."
Still, there is much banks must still do to present their clients not just with apps, but with apps that are actually exciting and do things most private banking clients are pining for.
In the New York Times article, Steffen Binder, managing director of MyPrivateBanking, highlights a "lack of brokerage and trading features, too little informational content as banks are proving hesitant to open their research libraries to app users, little integration with social media," and poor communication facilities, since there is no direct link to send messages to a personal adviser or even the possibility to get a call-back or chat with an adviser.
Banks should take note. They usually proudly promote themselves as being at the cutting-edge of new technology. But here's the thing: most consumer sites, from Ikea to AT&T have had instant chat features for years.
It's time banks stop thinking that private banking clients, or any other segment of clients, live on a different planet. We all live in a world where we want to stay connected with our banks and businesses 24/7 in as seamless a way as possible. Banks need stop making other assumptions and start meeting, and exceeding, their clients' expectations.