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J.P. Morgan and Charles Schwab top J.D. Power ranking for best digital experience; Vanguard and Merrill at the bottom

As mobile apps and websites increasingly become the primary point of contact for wealth management clients and prospects, organizations that deliver a top-notch digital experience have a major edge over the competition.

The biggest benefits of an online interaction devoid of headaches and hitches? Stronger brand loyalty, more satisfied full-service investors and greater mindshare among the next generation.

J.D. Power on Tuesday released its 2022 U.S. Wealth Management Digital Experience Study, ranking the industry’s biggest players on how effective they are at delivering a digital experience that works for investors instead of against them.

“Digital has become a key component of the overall wealth management customer experience,” Amit Aggarwal, the senior director of digital solutions at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “Firms that are delivering the best overall digital experience are recognizing that their apps and websites are an extension of the client relationship and can be leveraged to improve relationships with advisors, drive brand loyalty and differentiate from the competition.”

Previously known as the U.S. Wealth Management Mobile App Satisfaction Study, the analysis evaluated customer satisfaction in the categories of visual appeal, navigation, speed and information/content. The rankings are based on responses from 6,375 full-service and self-directed investors collected from June through August 2022.

J.P. Morgan Wealth Management ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction this year with a score of 728 out of a possible 1,000. Charles Schwab ranked second with a score of 726, and Edward Jones took bronze with 710.

The bottom of this year’s rankings are occupied by Vanguard, Merrill and LPL Financial, with satisfaction scores of 670, 679 and 689, respectively.

Overall, customers were more satisfied with wealth management apps than they are wealth management websites. The 2022 study found that apps have a satisfaction score of 731, 50 points higher than the 681 satisfaction score among websites. Those behind the study said the gap is driven largely by a significant preference for apps among younger investors.

Customer satisfaction with mobile wealth management apps is highest among members of Generation Y with an average score of 760. Members of Generation Z follow with an average score of 720.

Members of Gen Xers, boomers and pre-boomers — all of whom are more likely to use their wealth management firm’s website — had lower satisfaction with mobile wealth management apps.

And despite the belief that mobile wealth management apps and websites are primarily designed for do-it-yourself investors, the study found that overall customer satisfaction scores were higher among advised investors who are more likely to use the digital financial tools provided by their wealth management firms.

“Wealth management firms that want to attract and retain younger investors need to focus on continuing to improve their apps,” Michael Foy, the senior director of wealth intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “The mobile app really is becoming the center of the modern wealth management client user experience, and that’s true not just for do-it-yourself investors but also for those who work with a financial advisor. App users are engaging much more frequently with their brand and, when they have a positive experience, are also much more likely to recommend that brand.”

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