Investments Are Researched, Reviewed On Mobile Phones

Adobe yesterday released survey results that we just have to call your attention to, despite the fact that we commented on mobile phone apps in a post two weeks ago.

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s The Rise of Apps Culture had reported on interest in finance apps. But this data from the Adobe Mobile Experience Survey: What Users Want from Media, Finance, Travel & Shopping, October 2010, zeroes in specifically on interest in mutual funds and securities (including ETFs) via both mobile phones' browsers and applications.

As you review the graphs below (and you can download the full report), remember that these are still early days. Will mobile phone users expect to access investment data on their phones? Some already are, according to this research. This and what's being learned elsewhere should be enough for asset managers to consider mobile in their communications roadmap.

Don't Let Your Site Design Be An Adoption Hurdle

The practice is far, far from mainstream. For example, less than 2% of more than 15,000 Americans and Canadians surveyed in the second quarter of 2010 by Empathica Research preferred mobile as a banking channel. More than half of U.S. consumers said they don’t trust the security of the device.

“Internet banking went through the same hurdles with privacy and security concerns,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, who Empathica quoted in its research release.

But now is the time to care how your Web site looks and works on a mobile phone. The Adobe data shows that iPhone users are accessing investment data via Web browsers as opposed to mobile apps. That makes sense given the iPhone’s lead. The lighter use of apps conflicts with what Pew reported about finance apps in general.

If you’re using Flash to deliver content and functionality (as so many mutual fund and ETF sites do), know that you’re offering these early mobile browsers a flawed experience.

Financial services users were less satisfied than consumer products/shopping and media/entertainment users, which Adobe speculated “may be a spillover of how consumers have historically rated their experience” in this category. As an iPad user continually frustrated by what I can’t see on asset manager sites, I’d bet the effect of Flash disabling or diminishing site capabilities has something to do with dissatisfaction, too.

10% Of The Oldest Segment Conduct Securities Transactions

Across the board, Adobe found that mobile’s most active content consumers tend to be male, 30-49 years old and own iPhones. This pattern was true among financial users, too.


Think about how early this is and then look at this data again. The smallest number in the graph above is 10%--10% of 50 to 64-year-olds who perform finance-related activities on their mobile phones are conducting stock and mutual fund transactions.

People want to interact with their investment portfolio on their phones—which Adobe and others have taken to calling “mini-computers.” We stand by what we wrote a few weeks ago. This report notwithstanding, we think mobile Web browsing will eventually give way to user preference for what can be done in much richer, more controllable applications.

What do you think? Do you agree that the tilt will be toward apps over Web sites? What can an asset manager provide via an app that will win its affection as a go-to app? How can you be sure that your firm and products are represented on others’ apps? Which apps? It's time to get your team thinking about these and other considerations.

The survey found a few differences between the second and third devices used by banking and investment account reviewers and researchers. The order of these is certain to shuffle as all platforms including Windows Mobile are steadily innovating in the hustle to gain market share as mobile adoption skyrockets.


The Adobe research is useful in that it provides the big picture. Your Web analytics can provide insights on how mobile users are accessing your content. We recommend regular reporting, monitoring and learning about the needs of this emerging segment. Not to be a nag but pay special attention to the pages that they bounce from---that's your clue to what's not working.