It’s summer 2010. The first investment platforms have just turned 10 years old. The digital revolution is in full swing. There is no One Direction.

In a (sort of) alternate reality called THE PLATFORM WORLD a keen young development analyst (we will call her Janice) has, whilst on annual leave in that free thinking state of mind, come up with an idea. Sitting on the hotel balcony downloading a news app to her new smartphone, it hit her. Suddenly. Smack bang in the pus.

Janice thought hmm, we should have one of these for THE PLATFORM. It would be, like really useful for clients, this is the way the world is going!

Three weeks later. The monthly development meeting. Janice has got her idea on the agenda (item three). She has issued a one pager setting out the rationale for, and main functionality of, THE PLATFORM MOBILE APP. The change manager announces item three.

Enter Sparryheid, a senior manager. Sparryheid hasn’t quite found the time yet to log on to THE PLATFORM itself, but that’s O.K cos he can talk pretty convincingly about what a DFM and a model portfolio is. He also knows all about these app things and has even downloaded one to his work Blackberry. Not only that, Sparryheid can see the bigger picture.

He clears his breath and wipes his beak: I’m not sure we know enough yet, Janice, to put any effort into developing web applications (sic). It’s not something advisers will value and people won’t ever actually use mobile phones in connection with more complex financial matters. Most importantly, it’s not really got any commercial value. Let’s keep this on the back burner and concentrate on getting our ducks in a row so we can pick some low hanging fruit, O.K? Thanks Janice. A few apparatchiks nod. They all move on to the next agenda point.

Back in the real world

Now, to be fair to the entirely fictional Sparryheid, launching a mobile app would have been a bit ahead of the game in 2010 and he was under pressure to get the basic trading functionality back working. The problem is though that big organisations take a lot longer to develop things than anyone ever thinks. Now that most adviser platforms are aged between 9 – 15 years old, how are they keeping up with the mobile internet era? The days of using anything fixed to a desk as the first port of call to either browse and do stuff on the internet are already over (for example, it’s just been announced that 3/4 of Facebook’s advertising revenue is from mobile ads). Just for the fun of it, and because I like tables and things, I’ve scouted around the 13 leading adviser platforms looking at whether they offer a mobile app for the platform itself, or, if at least their corporate website is configured for mobile use. Guess what?

Leading 13 adviser platforms, May 2015
Mobile app for the platform 2 out of 13
Main website mobile configured 2 out of 13

Now. In recent years platforms have been variously in the throes of upgrading, or replacing, the core software and or getting things right for the RDR (and the sun is still setting on that one). Modern technology stuff has been less of a focus and that’s understandable. It’s fair to say that these big distractions have not helped our flag bearers keep up with other sectors on the technology front.

Although us office-based fuddy duddies of today still use on-desk plugged in things to do the majority of our work, mobile devices are unequivocally the first (and increasingly only) port of call for getting information from the web.

The average advised platform client is currently aged north of 58, so on balance has probably been less inclined to shout for mobile accessible to the platform itself. But this won’t last forever, the digital revolution is now in a mobile internet phase, things are moving at an incredible pace, etc. What’s really surprising is the lack of mobile configuration on websites.

This would be the case anyway but, as of April this year, Google changed its algorithm to include mobile friendliness as a ranking criterion, so the message on that one is: better get your mobile experience addressed!

So whether it’s playing catch up with today’s technology, or getting It right for the future (Internet of Things anyone?) I think now is the time for Sparryheid to get modern stuff further up the development list.

All characters in this blog are fictional and any similarity to anyone living or dead is entirely unintended and coincidental, but quite funny if it happens.

With apologies to Irvine Welsh for nicking Sparryheid from ‘Wayne Foster’ in The Acid House. Buy his original here.