Smartphones — and the portable 24/7 internet access they provide — have revolutionized the way in which people access key information about their investments.
Across the globe, mobile adoption rates are are continuing to explode — according to eMarketer, in 2015, worldwide mobile penetration reached 67.1%, and by 2019, one in every two people on earth will own a mobile internet-connected device. The impact of mobile proliferation has been significant, transforming business practices across the global economy. Perhaps one of the most profoundly impacted industries of all, though, has been the financial services sector.
Indeed, shareholders, journalists, financial analysts, and brokers have fully embraced the mobile platform, now utilizing it for nearly every aspect of their day-to-day business dealings and decision making processes. In a May 2015 press release from E*TRADE, researchers found that an astounding 81% of investors under the age of 44 say that mobile devices are “essential” to their investment activities. 70% of that same demographic planned to increase their smartphone use in their investment activities over the next year.
The preference for mobile wasn’t limited only to younger shareholders, either: for all investors, those same statistics were 64% and 51%, respectively.
Convenience and ubiquity play a large role in this growth. Smartphones are much easier to travel with than bulkier laptop computers or traditional portfolios, while tablets combine the portability of a phone with a more functional screen that can easily be converted into a portable workstation with a secondary keyboard.
Moreover, thanks to the SEC’s press release sanctioning the use of social media to communicate key updates to shareholders, companies have begun to embrace these mobile-centric platforms for corporate reporting purposes.
Social media — particularly Twitter and Facebook — provides easy and ubiquitous channels through which companies can share news. This content can include quarterly results, merger and acquisition announcements, streamed video conferences, Q&As with investors and journalists, corrections of any public misinformation. It’s also a useful way for companies to drive traffic to their own websites, where they can provide in-depth information at a length far greater than 140 characters.
Investors value the ability to keep tabs on stock prices and catch up on news anywhere, anytime.
Investors Prefer Apps
Clearly, shareholders want seamless mobile access to vital company information, but it’s important that IROs understand not all mobile platforms are created equal — today, smartphone users overwhelmingly favor mobile apps to browser-based experiences. According to recent Forrester research, users spend more than 85% of their time on mobile devices using apps. What’s more, according to IR Magazine’s 2015 Investor Community Sentiment Report, investors prefer mobile apps over social media as well.
So what are the driving forces behind these preferences?
Mobile-optimized websites require a third-party browser and either WiFi or cellular data, while native apps can be accessed offline, are conveniently placed on the homescreen of a phone or tablet, and often provide a number of additional features that mobile websites can’t handle.
The app platform also provides options for IR professionals that mobile-optimized websites can’t, like sending proactive push-notifications that alert users when a new corporate document has been uploaded, or when an important piece of news has been announced. It is these notification alerts that are giving companies an unprecedented connection to their key stakeholder groups.
As more and more investors are using mobile devices to access shareholder information, companies at the leading edge of IR best practice are connecting clients to crucial information through a combination of social media, mobile-optimized websites, and native mobile apps. It is imperative that public companies take note of industry trends and the evolving IR landscape — or else risk losing their ability to attract and retain investment capital.
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