Global Survey: Wealthy Shifting Financial Matters to Mobile Channels

(Foto: Maksim Kostenko -

Zurich – More than 80% of the affluent/high-net-worth individuals worldwide use apps or mobile websites for financial matters. The Chinese are the most advanced users of mobile technology when it comes to their financial affairs. For instance, 96% of Chinese respondents are using mobile apps for financial transactions and information, whereas this proportion is only 74% in the US and 71% in Germany.

These outcomes are among the results of the new report “Global Survey of Mobile Disruption in Wealth Management 2014”. The Swiss research company MyPrivateBanking Research has interviewed 1’000 affluent and high-net-worth individuals in the five most important global wealth markets: US, UK, Germany, France and China.

MyPrivateBanking regards China’s dominance in technology and mobile usage among the affluent and wealthy as the most striking finding of this international survey. In the report the five countries were ranked for a selection of questions that best indicate technological/mobile adoption.

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“While China is clearly the market where wealthy individuals are in general the technology-friendliest group of affluent and high-net-worth individuals, other key countries will catch up soon,” said Steffen Binder, head of research at MyPrivateBanking. “Wealth managers who adopt mobile touch points the fastest will gain a real competitive advantage and therefore place additional pressure on their more conservative peers in each country and globally.” The digital development of wealth management in the US is held back by US banks’ very cautious attitude towards new digital capabilities. The fear of violating compliance rules is according to MyPrivateBanking widespread.

Wealthier Individuals Drive Technology Usage
The survey by MyPrivateBanking reveals various other insights into the digital preferences and behavior of the wealthy worldwide:

  • The high-net-worth users with the largest amount of investable assets show the most active mobile and digital usage. The report differentiates among emerging affluent (up to $500,000 investable assets), affluent (between $500,000 and $1 million) and high-net-worth individuals (HNWI, above $1 million). In many instances the HNWI segment shows the strongest usage of digital channels. For instance, 62% use their mobile devices for financial matters at the work place and 46% in meetings with financial advisors, beating the less wealthy segments by 5-10 percentage points.
  • Communication patterns show that digital touch points are already or will soon become the most important communication link between banks and their wealthy clientele. E-mails beat personal meetings when it comes to communicating with financial advisors. Messengers like WhatsApp and WeChat are already used by 32%, and 27% have used video chat. Moreover, 36.1% of our respondents use their mobile devices during meetings with their financial advisors.
  • Smartphone use exceeds that of personal computers, laptops, netbooks, etc. 89% of the surveyed affluent and wealthy said that they use a ‘smartphone’ regularly and only 87.9% chose ‘desktop computer’. Tablet devices are the third most regularly used electronic devices with 69.7%.
  • Banks’ mobile apps are standard financial tools for affluent and HNWI, beating other financial apps. The overwhelming majority of the surveyed individuals who use their mobile devices for financial matters prefer the mobile apps (83.5%) and mobile websites (84.6%) offered by their banks, clearly beating apps from financial newspapers/magazines or other online information services.
  • Payment services, highest security standards and communication functions are the three most important mobile banking app features for wealthy users. But even more advanced features like live chat and financial gaming are required by a significant minority.

“If banks and wealth managers want to maintain access to the wealthy they need to accelerate their technology investments,” urges Mr. Binder. “There is a significant group of ‘super-users’ among the wealthy who crave the latest technology. Messenger services, social media and video communication are examples. It is important for banks to be perceived as technology leaders and leverage the latest generation of available digital technology.”

Wealth Managers Need to Quickly Adopt Mobile Strategies
Based on the survey data, MyPrivateBanking draws three main conclusions that wealth managers should be aware of when outlining a mobile strategy:

  • Devise region- and country-specific mobile and technology strategies. Asian users are significantly different from European and North American users. For instance, as the wealthy in China are more advanced than the Germans when it comes to adopting technology, they need different app features and expect different communication patterns than their peers across the globe.
  • Revise financial advisors’ communication strategy. A growing number of wealthy clients demand easy and uncomplicated channels by which to contact their financial advisors. As a result, MyPrivateBanking sees a need for client advisors to be trained, especially with regard to compliance and regulatory issues, in setting up an effective social media and digital communication strategy.
  • Make mobile first. Smartphone usage has already overtaken desktop computers like PCs, laptops and netbooks. Many banks and wealth managers, however, still lag far behind and are failing to respond to changing client needs arising from this trend. HNWI clients have tech preferences that put them among the most advanced and sophisticated users. It is important to meet these needs with a tech platform that offers sophisticated tools and interactive features.

About the Report:
The report “Global Survey of Mobile Disruption in Wealth Management 2014 – Digital and Mobile Behavior and Attitudes of the Wealthy in the US, UK, France, Germany, and China” identifies and analyzes in depth the behavior of affluent and high-net-worth individuals with regard to digital and specifically mobile technology. The report is based on a quantitative survey conducted in October 2014 on the topics of mobile devices, operating systems, mobile usage patterns (types of mobile apps, mobile sites and usage occasions), attitudes toward a large number of mobile features, digital communication behavior with financial institutions and satisfaction levels with regard to mobile banking channels. In total, 1’000 emerging affluent, affluent and high-net-worth individuals in the US, UK, France, Germany and China were interviewed online. More info on the report. (MPB/mc/hfu)

About MyPrivateBanking Research:
Established in 2009 in Switzerland, MyPrivateBanking Research specializes in research and analysis of how financial services firms should develop their websites, social media presences and mobile apps to best serve existing customers and to win new clients. MyPrivateBanking Research offers its insights in comprehensive reports as well as customized research, workshops and presentations. For further information please go to


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