A guest editorial from Patricia Horotan, chief executive officer and co-founder of BlueMatrix

The changing face of investment research

The PDF file format, born in the early 1990s, was soon adopted by the investment research industry as a means of distributing reports and insights to investors. As a smaller size file, it can be easily sent out over email and looks the same and holds the same information, in whatever platform you open it up. It also lends itself to easy viewing on computers and laptops. As a result, BlueMatrix currently distributes around 10,000 PDFs of investment research daily.

However, we’re now seeing a shift towards more dynamic and interactive research platforms, driven by a younger generation of investors who are tech savvy, time poor and demand richer, more personalised digital experiences that are easier to access on the move.

According to recent research, 68% of investors – and significantly 74% of Gen Y/Z and 71% of Gen X – want their investment providers to offer digital experiences on par with leading born-digital companies. 60% of investors want their providers to supply them with better digital tools so that they can manage their investments directly. Wealth managers are recognising their clients’ changing needs and are keen to meet these.

Meeting customer expectations

The impact of mobile phones in daily life is undeniable, and this includes being used as a channel for viewing information to inform investment decisions. While PDFs are certainly still the most popular format, they are admittedly not as easy to read on a mobile screen and only provide a static viewing experience. And snackable, visually engaging content that is easily accessible and readable across all devices is what consumers are seeking today.

In our sector, we’re also witnessing a shift in client expectations towards ‘pull’ communications in the wealth management sector. There is a desire for the information that is shared to enable independent decision-making. However, there are challenges with the PDF format around restricting access to only certain users and limiting data measurement.

Keeping up with innovation

Transitioning away from PDFs also signifies a broader industry shift towards fully embracing digital transformation. Wealth management is lagging other, more technologically advanced areas of the financial sector, and especially the world of banking. Changing customer expectations and technology enabled competition mean banks have to operate more creatively to stay relevant, and the same should apply to the wealth management sector. AI is inevitably now powering the next wave of innovation within the financial sector overall and the possibilities may be endless.

The evolution to research formats beyond PDFs means striking a delicate balance between flexibility and fidelity, to ensure that investors can access information conveniently but without compromising on data integrity or security. By fully harnessing technology, providers have the potential to create engaging digital ecosystems that not only meet but exceed the expectations of today’s investors. This evolution represents not just a technological upgrade but a strategic imperative for staying relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Providing that personal touch

The demand for personalised experiences by investors is also driving the trend towards greater innovation in investment research. Tailored research feeds, customised emails, and intelligent filtering systems cater to individual preferences, ensuring that clients receive information that is far more relevant to them, as well as timely. The PDF format obviously doesn’t readily lend itself to personalisation, and therefore more dynamic formats are the way forward.

Automated compliance tools further enhance the user experience by seamlessly integrating essential governance, disclaimers, and checkpoints into the content delivery process.

HTML5 web pages and reports offer opportunities to engage readers with interactive features, multi-channel content, and user-centric layouts, creating a more comprehensive and enjoyable user journey.

The benefits of HTML5, in comparison to PDF, include faster page loading times, improved multimedia support, mobile optimisation, and cross-browser compatibility.

For all these reasons, our industry needs to increasingly embrace new platforms.

What’s next?

Changing needs amongst today’s investors are driving a new era of innovation and client-focused service delivery in the investment research field. As providers adopt more dynamic and interactive platforms they will elevate the investor experience, fostering greater client engagement and satisfaction. While the PDF is certainly not going anywhere anytime soon, it’s time to fully embrace new and more exciting digital formats that will shape the user experience and the future of the wealth management industry.

Image: BlueMatrix

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Guest Editorial
This article was produced specially for Fintech Intel by an expert guest contributor.