Wells Fargo advisors now will be able to utilize functions such as financial planning tools, client account data and product research from their tablet devices.
On Wednesday, the firm started the firm-wide rollout of its new mobile app for advisors, Smart2Go. The app is an extension of the firm’s SmartStation desktop platform that uses a simple, intuitive interface to provide and document clients’ financial plans through the firm’s Envision software, compare asset allocation models, read Wells Fargo Investment Institute reports and review current account holdings and activity with clients.
“As our clients become more mobile, so do our financial advisors,” says Mary Mack, president and head of Wells Fargo Advisors. “By taking a long-term, design-first approach to developing this technology, we are equipping our advisors with the essential resources they need to best serve their clients.”
About 28 percent advisors reported using a tablet in 2014, up from 21 percent in 2013, according to data from the independent research and advisory firm Aite Group. Last year, over 30 percent of advisors who said they did not currently use a tablet device noted they will likely start to use one for business within the next 12 to 18 months.
“We definitely believe that the laptop is huge component of mobility, but the tablet gives you certain capabilities that people have come to expect. It’s definitely an experience thing for clients—people have started to use tablet and cellar devices to do more,” says Warren Terry, managing director of FA Platform for Wells Fargo Advisors.
The process of designing and developing the app took almost two years. Terry’s team consulted with advisors, branch mangers and sales associates about what important functions were needed on the app. Advisors told the team they wanted an app that would enable them to quickly review client information prior to a meeting, conduct effective presentations, and help them stay connected to their team and the markets.
A major focus behind creating the Smart2Go app was the ability to help drive conversations between advisors and their clients. “We focused on presentation mode,” Terry says, noting that the development team, as well as an outside design team, worked to streamline the user experience.
“A lot of the industry has gone with third-party partners, or something out-of-box,” Terry says, but WFA chose to build its own app so that it could customize the experience for both advisors and clients. “This is an extension of all the desktop capabilities that make sense when working with a client, or trying to stay connected with the office or prepare for a client meeting,” he says.
Currently, the app is only available to iPad users, although Terry notes that plans for an Android version are in the works. Additionally, the app is only for use on tablets, not smartphones, which is intentional, Terry says. “If you think about those three principles, you probably wouldn’t use a smartphone to conduct presentations.”
But Terry says that the contact management and client data functions of the app may be useful within a smartphone app and the firm is exploring that option. “We’ve built the app in what we call a hybrid state, so our intent is to be able to put it on any device,” he added. Functions such as eSignature are also in the works for upcoming editions of the app.
Smart2Go has been offered already to about 1,000 of the firm’s financial advisors as part of a pilot phase, and over the next month, an additional 2,700 advisors will have access by the end of June. By the end of the year, the firm plans for the app to be available for download to all 15,000 of its advisors in the firm’s app store.