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By Bill Chambers, Interactive Data
By Bill Chambers, Interactive Data
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Mobile, HTML5 and Multichanneling in Wealth Management

Emerging technologies such as HTML5 can help wealth management firms empower their advisers to meet the 'anytime, anywhere' expectations of their clients across multiple mobile platforms and devices.

From reading the news to keeping in touch with friends and colleagues, mobile innovation has transformed the ways we conduct our daily activities and business transactions, including the ways people manage their money and interact with financial advisers. Investors are no longer comfortable just meeting with their financial advisers once per quarter or talking to them by phone occasionally to review their investment strategies; rather, they expect access to market information and insight 24/7. To meet this "anytime, anywhere" expectation, financial advisers must have access to market data, tools and client information to interact with clients over multiple channels, including the web, mobile devices and social media.


Meet The New TraderThere are more than 6 billion mobile phones worldwide, according to a report from the World Bank, which says the total number of mobile phones globally will soon exceed the human population. So it's no surprise that the mobile channel and the expectations it has spawned are redefining financial services. Wall Street & Technology's August digital issue examines how capital markets firms are transforming their channel strategies to meet users' anytime/anywhere demands and to seize the opportunities mobile offers.

Consumers use a plethora of mobile devices today for a variety of everyday tasks. Naturally, they find themselves evaluating how to incorporate mobile interactions in their financial activity. Meanwhile, consumers are thinking about how (and to what extent) they want to be involved in managing their investments. Advisers, in response, are increasingly concentrating on engaging clients by creating mobile capabilities that cater to their preferences, ranging from consumers who want to transact on their own to those who desire immediate and everyday dialogue with their advisers. Depending on the age, technical savvy and additional characteristics of the consumer, advisory firms continue to explore innovative ways of interacting with clients via their preferred communication channels.

Is HTML5 the Answer?

But how can wealth management firms keep up with the technology needed to support the dialogue via mobile devices? They initially responded by building in-house native mobile applications targeted for each type of mobile device available in the marketplace. But targeting each device -- which typically has its own operating system, form factor, input methods, native development language/tools, and proprietary distribution method (for example, Apple's App Store) -- can drive up the costs to produce a mobile offering and increase time to market. This approach has put a tremendous burden on firms as they focus on meeting increased mobile demands in a challenging economic climate that limits resources.

As a result, wealth management firms have begun exploring "multichanneling" -- delivering market data solutions targeting multiple channels (e.g., desktop web, mobile, etc.) through a single hosted platform. A multichannel approach can enable advisers to engage all types of investors via their mobile devices. Industry experts have been working over the past 10 years to address the issue of cross-mobile device support and cross-browser desktop support by delivering an HTML5 specification.

The HTML5 standard, together with more advanced mobile devices, presents a unique opportunity for wealth management firms to build applications that target multiple mobile devices through a single technology. This approach also decreases time to market by optimizing application updates through the different app stores provided by mobile vendors today. With a hybrid application approach (existing native + HTML5), firms can replace most of the existing native application functionality using hosted HTML5 functionality, which will help target new devices using HTML5 with minimal additional cost.

[Chinese Bank Wealth Management Products Boom.]

Firms investing in HTML5 technology for mobile can reap short-term benefits, including lower mobile development costs. They also are investing in a technology that is very likely to be the future desktop standard. Though the HTML5 specification has several characteristics, the most interesting for wealth management firms is support for the latest cascading style sheets (CSS3), which help produce applications that are closer to the native look and feel of the mobile platform. This is especially evident on devices such as the iPad, iPhone and Android 3.0+ smartphones.

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