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August 2015

Responsive Design in the Financial Services Industry 1000 664 emily

Responsive Design in the Financial Services Industry

Digital channels continue to represent an important approach for firms and financial professionals alike to educate consumers and communicate with clients. Prospects and clients are now, more than ever, actively engaging in online research as well as managing their accounts by methods alternate to the desktop computer. According to a study conducted by Usablenet (PDF) on tablet growth, 66% of tablet users research products before buying online, 31% use the device for purchases (expected to increase to 61% by 2018) and 25% will make mobile payments with their device by 2017.

Financial professionals are also increasing their use of mobile devices and tablets, generate sales and to service their clients. The mobility of tablets provides advisors with faster access to web-based information and tools, and with greater accuracy than ever before.

The emergence of versatile and intuitive tablets and mobile phones has sparked a shift in web development the past years, from mobile websites and apps to multi-platform responsive websites. The responsive design shift is a targeted approach for the construction and visual structure of sites. The goal: to provide an optimal user experience –easy reading and navigation with minimal resizing, panning and scrolling –across the three major devices: mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 58% of American adults owned a smartphone and 42% owned a tablet, with both figures projected to grow.

Financial services firms have responded to growing consumer demand by introducing new and redesigned websites with ever more powerful data offerings and account management capabilities. Recently, these enhancements have seen a boom in the insurance and retirement industry segments. Corporate Insight has reviewed finance activity from its ongoing Monitor Research Services coverage for the past 20 years, identifying and reporting on noteworthy developments and trends. As Q1 closes out, we review the last 15 months, and caste predictions for the rest of 2015.

There are three stages in multi-platform web development. Firms continue to raise the bar when redesigning their websites, to incorporate the most intuitive and streamlined features with responsive design. There is a clear push from firms to first redesign their public sites, followed by private and participant sites, and lastly advisor websites.

  • Leading firms continue to improve their account information. While most firms have the basics of account information covered on their responsive sites, innovators continue to improve presentation –particularly with data visualizations and accessibility –through login features, interactive functionalities and widgets. On the other hand, responsive transactional capabilities still lag in the retirement and insurance spaces, compared to other industries like banking.
  • Advisors will continue to push for cross-platform client servicing capabilities. Through the use of tablets and phones, advisors are developing business practices for servicing clients as well as selling and marketing to prospects. Integrating the full range of web capabilities into a cross-platform system will help financial professionals significantly increase efficiencies.
  • Developing for a variety of devices remains a challenge. As phones are getting larger and tablets are getting smaller, firms are challenged to design new sites with multiple layouts and enhanced functionalities. The tech-savvy generation has set high expectations and firms are challenged to keep up with technological trends while reducing costs. Responsive web design, however, has gained plenty of momentum, particularly in the retirement and insurance industry segments that have been slow to embrace mobile.

Access the full report to see a detailed look at some top financial firms and how they have implemented responsive design. Firms reviewed are Athene, Allianz Life, AXA, MassMutual, Nationwide, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, TIAA-CREF, and Voya.

This information was provided from our Partners at Corporate Insight. Corporate Insight provides competitive intelligence and user experience research to the nation’s leading financial institutions. For 20 years, Corporate Insight has tracked new developments in the financial services industry through their syndicated Monitor research and consulting services.