Schwab OpenView Mobile launches, allows RIAs to create branded mobile apps for iOS and Android

Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC is one of the first RIAs to publish a branded mobile app using Schwab Advisor Services' Schwab OpenView Mobile platform

Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC is one of the first RIAs to publish a branded mobile app using Schwab Advisor Services’ Schwab OpenView Mobile platform. Image credit: Apple iTunes

 

Schwab OpenView Mobile officially launches, allowing RIAs to publish branded mobile apps to the iTunes App Store and Google Play

Note: An earlier version of this story indicated Schwab Advisor Services was the first investment custodian to provide custom mobile apps to its advisor clients. Trust Company of America has been publishing custom adviser-branded mobile apps for end client use since September 2012.

Initially announced at Schwab IMPACT 2013 (see: Schwab IMPACT 2013 Report: All the technology trends advisers can’t miss), Schwab Advisor Services has officially launched its Schwab OpenView Mobile platform.

Schwab OpenView Mobile allows RIAs who custody with Schwab Advisor Services to customize and publish mobile apps compatible with iOS and Android devices.

While not the first custom branded mobile app solution for advisers, OpenView Mobile becomes one of the few investment custodians that allows advisers to brand apps specifically for their advisory firm, with Trust Company of America being another. While Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, Pershing, LLC, and TD Ameritrade Institutional all have mobile apps advisors can use to view client account information, none yet allow advisers to brand the app for use by end clients.

“Must-Have” Technology

“Mobile technology is a must-have for adviser firms looking to grow and build relationships – both with today’s clients and with the next generation – because it allows the adviser to deliver the ‘know me’, anywhere, anytime service clients expect,” said Neesha Hathi, senior vice president, Advisor Technology Solutions, Schwab Advisor Services, in a press release.

A quick search of the iTunes App Store shows that Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC is one of the first RIAs to publish the app using Schwab OpenView Mobile.

“The creation of a branded app for our firm provides us with a tremendous opportunity to connect with clients through their mobile devices,” said Mark Balasa, Co-CEO and CIO at wealth management firm Balasa, Dinverno and Foltz, LLC in today’s press release.

Not the First

While they definitely help increase an RIAs profile in a crowded market, branded mobile apps are nothing new.

FPPad readers should be familiar with branded mobile apps available from several providers including Orion Advisor Services, Retire Logix from Oltis Software, LLC, and Boulevard R.

In fact, Orion Advisor Services’ app is in its second full iteration, as it has been more than three years since the company first introduced support for branded mobile apps for its RIA clients (watch FPPad Bits and Bytes coverage of version 2.0 of the Orion Advisor Services app below)

Nevertheless, the stakes for capturing clients’ attention continue to rise, as increased competition means more RIAs and financial services providers are fighting for attention and visibility on the next frontier: clients’ mobile devices.

How well will Schwab’s OpenView Mobile program push RIAs into the mobile device frontier for client collaboration? We will have a better idea after the first several months based on adoption by RIAs and stats on total downloads by end clients.

$5,000 Up Front, $2,000 Annually

How much will it cost RIAs to publish branded apps using Schwab OpenView Mobile?

Pricing details were not announced at IMPACT 2013, nor were they disclosed along with the press release about the platform’s launch.

But in a tweet today, Joel Bruckenstein offered pricing details on OpenView Mobile:

That’s certainly an expense that will be judged very carefully by many RIAs, given that a wide range of app development options exist for a fraction of the price.

For comparison, note that Orion Advisor Services offers a branded mobile app for its adviser clients at no additional cost.

App Alternatives

A quick Google search revealed one template-based tool called iBuildApp, and for $799/year, one gets all the bells and whistles of publishing an app complete with screens for contact information, blog feeds, video lists, and event listings.

Granted, one BIG difference between OpenView Mobile and all the other third-party app platforms is the ability of OpenView Mobile to show daily client account balances from their Schwab accounts in the app.

So you decide: if you need to give your clients the ability to check their Schwab account values from within your branded mobile app, then OpenView Mobile is your solution.

Use this link to read the full press release at BusinessWire.com.

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5 Responses to “Schwab OpenView Mobile launches, allows RIAs to create branded mobile apps for iOS and Android”

  1. Stephanie Sammons February 24, 2014 8:04 pm
    #

    I’d be curious to know what the adoption rates are on these branded apps. Any idea? I’m more a fan of creating a responsive web presence and haven’t really seen apps being effective for advisors. WP Touch Pro (http://www.bravenewcode.com/wptouch/) for WordPress is a great tool for this and also allows for creation of a mobile “app” for iOS devices.

    What are your thoughts Bill?

    Stephanie

    • Bill Winterberg February 25, 2014 9:48 am
      #

      Great question Stephanie.

      Empirically, adoption rates of custom-branded apps for advisers varies widely.

      Look at the case of the branded apps provided by Trust Company of America. Roughly 70 of Trust Company of America’s 142 advisory firms publish branded apps in the Apple App store, a ratio of nearly 50%.

      See Jud’s comment below regarding adviser adoption rate for apps provided by Orion Advisor Services.

      Certainly as you said, responsive websites that look good on any device are much more prevalent today, which may be reducing interest in the additional complexity, cost, and maintenance of a native mobile app.

      While advisors won’t have a presence in the Apple App store or Google Play, clients can still consume content published by advisers delivered through a single source: the adviser’s website.

      However, I think native apps and their ability to support push notifications is one major advantage to native apps over responsive websites. If advisers can strategically deliver information and updates via well-managed push notification, they’ll continue to stay top of mind among clients.

      • Jud Mackrill February 25, 2014 2:03 pm
        #

        Good discussion

        RE: Orion’s mobile apps: we launch them on behalf of the the advisor meaning, no one will see our name with them (except for some earlier versions). Each advisor has their own Apple and/or Google Developer account (which we pay for) and we handle the entire process of setting them up once they fill out our application. Our adoption rates are at or around 40-50% of our clients that have an app in the Apple App Store and/or Google Play.

        RE: Responsive Site vs. Apps: they really serve two different audiences in my opinion. Your site serves for prospecting and giving your client the latest news, etc. while your app gives your clients the information that is unique to them. They can get their actual balances, holdings, core information from your app in a method you cannot easily supply outside of a third party portal. And as clients get more and more accustomed to an expectation that their data will be available to them, the fact that you offer a mobile app will become more and more of a differentiator.

        • Bill Winterberg February 25, 2014 2:11 pm
          #

          Jud,

          Thank you for providing stats on adoption rates by advisers using the apps branded by Orion.

          I’ve gone back and forth on responsive site vs. native app for content on FPPad. Since I don’t have a user-specific component (e.g. account values), I think my needs aren’t really that different to justify two separate interfaces. Although I must admit, it’s a little tempting to see how using push notifications would improve or hurt viewership of new FPPad Bits and Bytes episodes that come out!

  2. Stephanie Sammons February 26, 2014 9:37 pm
    #

    Interesting. I wonder how many folks opt-in for push notifications. I rarely do as it can get overwhelming. I definitely think the app would be utilized more if it provides access to personal portfolio info vs just educational content. Apps definitely have to serve a purpose beyond content in my opinion.