How mobile is your financial advice business?

This article was prompted by a trend in the very readership of this newsletter that on average is now read on a phone or tablet by one third of the readers. That figure in turn is divided almost 50/50 in terms of readership on a tablet as opposed to on a phone.
Should this be any surprise? Well not really as screens get bigger on phones and the functionality improves all the time on tablets, which are now becoming a genuine alternative to laptops. While the day of replacing your PC with a tablet is probably still a bit away, it’s getting ever closer. This move towards mobile devices creates both challenges and opportunities for your financial advice business.

Getting found
According to Search Engine Land in January 2013, 26% of searches on Google are now carried out on mobile devices. Research has also shown that in general, people searching the web on a phone are seeking out specific information; a phone number, other contact details, product information or maybe a price. They are not usually idly surfing the web. So what?

Well, this creates a real challenge for you. If a potential client searches for a financial adviser on their phone and clicks on a link to your site, let’s say looking for your contact details, what will they find? Will they find a web page where it’s not that easy to find what they are looking for, as it is your normal website “in miniature”? Are they likely to scroll around, resizing the page in order to be able to read it, to eventually find what they are looking for? Or are they likely to go to a more mobile friendly site?

To demonstrate the point, I’ve included screen grabs below taken from a phone, first of all of my own full website and then my mobile equivalent of it, that you actually see when searching on a phone. While the mobile site is not as attractive, the aim of it is to provide an easy route to the likely information being sought; an overview of services provided, my phone number etc.

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If you landed on the full website, are you likely to bother resizing the page and searching for what you want? A growing number of advisers have recognised the need for a mobile friendly version of their website, or at a minimum a very large and clear phone number on the homepage of their website that make it easier for clients to contact you.

Present yourself professionally!
Tablets are great for presenting to clients in 1:1 meetings. They are so much better than laptops as they they can be put on the table between you and the client, and a presentation can then be flicked through. This is so much better than both of you huddling around a laptop screen! I strongly suggest that you prepare a short, visual presentation demonstrating how you add value to your clients and load it onto a tablet. This is a great way to introduce yourself to prospective clients at that all-important first meeting and gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how you are different to other advisers.

The process of doing this is very straightforward. Most people prepare the presentation on their desktop and then transfer it to their tablet, which is very easy to do.

Apps to engage your clients
A growing number of financial advisers have recognised how a well-thought out app can help you to engage your clients and establish yourself as a fixture on their phone or tablet. Some have developed great calculators to show for example pension shortfalls or amounts of protection benefits needed. These can be delivered with news feeds of relevant personal finance news. Others are using apps that provide policy information for clients. There are a range of ways in which apps can be used to support a financial adviser’s proposition.

One of the challenges to consider here is how you distribute your app with over 700,000 apps available now for both Apple and Android devices. It’s very easy to get lost. As a result, there is a growing trend in the development of web apps, which are apps for your mobile device that can be downloaded from your website.

Apps to help you work better

There are hundreds of apps that fit this category. Obviously a good place to start is with the the Apps developed by a number of the product providers and fund managers. These offer you useful calculators & good information at the touch of a button. I know advisers who swear by the Bloomberg app too. Other apps that are worth checking out are Retirement Dashboard Plus or the whole range of apps developed as loan calculators or present value of money calculators. Also check out goalGetter. It’s a bit raw but a very simple concept of working out how much you need to save to cover future expenses. Could you use this to help get clients thinking about future expenses?

In terms of more general apps specifically for business, there are probably 6 apps that make life a lot easier for me. These are,

  • Dropbox: I use this to sync all my files across all devices and store them in the cloud. This makes life so much easier. However you need to be very security conscious using this, to ensure you keep your data safe.
  • Pages: the iPad equivalent of MS Word. This article was created in Pages.
  • iBooks: I use this for all my presentations which I save in iBooks as .pdf files
  • iMindMap: I use this a lot, particularly when brainstorming and planning with clients.
  • Reeder: I use this to quickly flick through all the content feeds that I monitor on the web.
  • Pocket: I use this to store all the articles I want to keep for later to read – or to include in the “Around the Web” section of my newsletter.

I hope this article gets you thinking about the impacts mobile devices might have on your business. If you’ve any thoughts in this area or indeed have found any great apps for business, please leave your comments below.

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