A tale of two apps

Two apps from two mutual fund managers – one designed for use by the firm’s employees only, the other available to the general public. Despite their different target markets, the two apps had much in common when it came to their development, as attendees at a recent NICSA webinar learned. In that session, which was moderated by Saadiah Freeman of kasina, representatives from MFS Investments and OppenheimerFunds shared their recent experiences with app launches.

Software concept: cloud of program iconsThe two investment managers had different objectives for their apps:

  • MFS wanted an app for its wholesalers, to help them make best use of their time and be more productive. The app would be distributed privately to just this group and would provide access to internal-use content as well as public fund information.
  • Oppenheimer wanted to tell the story about its global investing capability to financial advisers broadly – often, but not exclusively, through conversations with their wholesalers. The Global Tracker app would complement an existing microsite – and would be marketed for download through the Apple store.

Yet the two implementation teams had quite similar experiences in developing the apps. Here are the themes that came out of the discussion:

  • Outsourcing not a turnkey solution. Both firms turned to 3rd-party app developers – but soon learned that they needed to draw the firm’s IT group into the process. Both apps draw on data streams that are provided by other systems, so the internal tech team needed to facilitate the process.
  • No major compliance challenges. Because both apps drew upon content that was already approved for public use, neither development team needed to overcome significant compliance hurdles. Quite the contrary: at both firms, compliance was very much in favor of the apps, largely because they insure that the most up-to-date content is being distributed.
  • Initial design decisions can limit need for updates. Careful design during development can limit the need for updates after launch. Oppenheimer was glad that they incorporated an ability to add market data feeds within the app, without requiring additional downloads. MFS built their app with a view to avoiding “crowding” the app with content, by including only those features that were in greatest demand from wholesalers. That design philosophy sets a relatively high hurdle for changes.
  • Complement to existing channels. The app installations haven’t led to decreased use of existing channels, at least not yet. Websites and print materials remain in demand.

Perhaps the most important thing that the two apps have in common is that they’ve been very successful. The MFS app has been downloaded by all of the firm’s wholesalers and is used regularly by 4 of 5. Oppenheimer’s app has expanded its audience through new and value-added content.

NICSA members can listen FREE to the complete webinar  and download the presentation through our online archives.

We’ll be talking more about mobile at the NICSA Annual Conference & Expo | February 10 – 13 in Miami. Join us for the “Mobile Technology Update” with panelists from Boston Financial Data Services, MFS Investments, Northwestern Mutual and Prudential Investments. Click here for more information and to register.


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