Time Trials: Mobile Account Opening

As millennials mature, so do their financial needs. What isn’t changing, however, are their habits. This generation checks their phones up to 150 times a day. They shop, bank, and pay their rent on their phones, so they expect everything to work from mobile. To attract these young customers, financial service firms face a cutthroat timeline: become mobile-friendly or become irrelevant.

At a time of high acquisition costs for brokers, new account abandonment is a huge drain. Research shows that brokers lose 23% of their potential new clients over mobile, and ease of navigation is a leading cause of this abandonment.

With this lost opportunity in mind, we conducted user time trials to see how long it took to open a new brokerage account. With the existing options from major US brokers, users took 6 minutes and 17 seconds, on average, to open an account. Some brokers’ products took users up to 12 minutes to complete.

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From a usability standpoint, the broker offerings were disappointing. Users complained about having to reenter the same information, too many optional entry boxes, non-responsive sites, and too many questions on each page.

Other users simply lost patience. With no indication of their progress in the application, they had no idea if they were 10% or 90% done. The process asked too much information, and many users said they would probably abandon the application.

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In the end, the fastest broker was met with the least resistance from users. The distribution of questions between pages might hint as to why. It wasn’t necessarily the number of questions that bothered users, but the daunting experience of staring at 20 blank fields to fill out all at once. Breaking up the application into more manageable steps kept users calm and engaged.

With clunky account opening processes, brokers are missing out on new customers and assets to manage. There’s room for improvement for mobile account opening, and the opportunity continues to grow as the investing world turns mobile.

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