Financial services apps for Apple Watch

Banks, personal finance companies and custodians are jumping on board for the Apple Watch

Apr 13, 2015 @ 11:29 am

By Alessandra Malito

With Apple set to release its new watch on April 24, financial services companies are scrambling to be part of the much-ballyhooed event.

Companies such as Citigroup, E-Trade and Fidelity Investments have all developed — or are in the midst of developing — specific apps for Apple Watch wearers. The apps are all intended to allow wearers access to their services, including real-time stock market updates and account information.

Morningstar Inc. is also developing an Apple Watch app that allow wearers to stay on top of news in the financial markets.

"It's extraordinary and fun to see the industry target a new product release," Blane Warrene, co-founder of QuonWarrene, a financial service technology consulting firm, said. "Usually it plays the wait-and-see approach. So, it's extraordinary to see the industry move so fast."

Discount broker E-Trade last Friday announced plans to develop an app that will allow investors to monitor the markets and receive notifications when a security they're interested in has reached a certain price point. Clients will also be able to use the app to access account information.

"When we started hearing about the watch we thought this would be a great place for us to showcase critical time sensitive information that our customers desire and have it available for them in a personal way right there on their wrist," Kunal Vaed, senior vice president of digital transformation and active trading at E-Trade, said.

REAL-TIME UPDATES

Fidelity's app will also feature real-time market updates and alerts. Future versions may allow wearers to access account-specific information, make trades and money transfers, according to Velia Carboni, senior vice president of mobile at the company.

Salesforce, which offers a customer relationship management software for advisers, is also getting in on the act. Its app, which it expects to have ready when the watch hits the market later this month, will offer access to visualizations of customer data as well as alerts and notifications.

Personal finance companies are also gearing up for the Apple Watch. Mint.com, the website that allows users to pull in data from all of their financial accounts — including checking and savings, credit cards and 401(k)s — has an app already on Apple's App Store. The app allows users to check their accounts and monitor spending goals. In addition, Citigroup announced in March that it is developing an Apple Watch app that will let users view their account balances and receive notifications on recent transactions.

Ross Gerber, president and chief executive of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, said he has already bought his Apple Watch. What attracted him was its fitness capabilities, but said that being able to get notifications in a quiet and quick manner would be beneficial for work.

IN THE MOMENT

"It allows you to be more in the moment," Mr. Gerber said. "My bigger theory is this whole phone obsession is on the way down. Things like wearables will allow us to have access to information we need without walking around looking at our phones."

His firm, which has a mobile app called My Money Page, is looking into developing an Apple Watch app as well. The watch version would be a slimmed down version of the current app, which provides market news and stock quotes.

TD Ameritrade and Betterment are also considering developing Apple Watch apps, though neither firm is working on anything at the moment.

The next step for wearables, according to industry observers, is to target how Apple Watch will benefit financial advisers' work specifically.

"In our industry, we're going to have to find out in financial services — what does an adviser need to see and what can they get on their wrist that they can't get on their phone or tablet?" Mr. Warrene said. "And what do their clients need?"

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