Paul G Smith Managing Director of Mobile Trading Partners
Paul G Smith Managing Director of Mobile Trading Partners

Best Practice for Mobile - A toolkit for brokers to apply in their business

Trading is at the heart of what brokers offer to their clients, but trading is not the problem brokers are trying to solve any more. In 2018, “everything else” is the problem.

First Published: e-Forex Magazine 80 / FX Brokerage Operations / April 2018

The wise broker should now be concerned about everything apart from trading. For example,  customer acquisition and on-boarding, customer retention and development, improving service levels and customer satisfaction bi-directional channels to engage with the customer and of course, the trading experience still has to be perfect too.

Feedback from China

Some time ago I invited feedback on one of our competitors’ Trading apps from a well respected FX Industry advisor in mainland China. The feedback was not too good: “These Western apps are too basic - they only do Trading”, Ms Shi said.  “China’s market is complex, the brokers need to use different ways and new ways to do marketing to attract the traders, the marketing events need to focus on the mobile apps. Local apps have more functions and are more suitable for the Chinese users. The Chinese users do everything now by their mobile phones daily, like order taxi to work, order take-out food, using digital payments everywhere without using cash (for example WeChat payment, they also use WeChat payment for trading).” She continues “Chinese users are ‘picky’ and many traders now only trade on mobile. They register the account and make deposits on mobile, many of them do not need the PC platform.”

Brokers have no choice but to provide engagement with the entirety of their business through mobile devices.
Brokers have no choice but to provide engagement with the entirety of their business through mobile devices.

What price for loyalty?

What do the leading trading platforms do to make clients loyal to your brokerage? The answer is – nothing at all! Users can trade, and they can use the platform to sign up for accounts with your competitors. These applications provide a great platform for trading, and create a community that sees brokers as a commodity. Do you really want to be treated as a commodity?

From the 1990s all the retailers were offering loyalty cards, by which the retailer would bribe their customers to spend more in their outlet or chain, collecting data about the purchases in exchange for discounts or vouchers. They still exist of course, but 25 years on they are falling out of favour. Customers have wised up to the Internet and that they can find better deals by shopping around online, they can’t be “bought” so cheaply any more.
In the current decade we have seen the rise of global behemoths like Amazon who gain their customers’ loyalty by providing better product range and service, a solution that doesn’t require so many discounts because it’s so complete that their customers find it more convenient to stay on their service and choose between different merchants (all of whom pay commission to the payment) than shopping around. 

In the FX trading world we have retail brokers resorting to offering “free money” bonuses and credits to gain and retain clients, desperately hoping for loyalty from them, whilst these clients are using trading platforms that do nothing whatsoever to encourage their loyalty to the broker that they are trading with. It’s a tough world for the broker who wants to develop their own brand.

Engagement and why it matters

Engagement marketing, done well, leads to a positive brand experience that has been jointly created by the client and the service provider. The client isn’t a passive receiver of services, because the service provider’s engagement model supports increased interaction between the client and the service provider throughout the lifecycle of their relationship. The service provider recognises that the client has multiple needs at these different stages, and offers them the right tools, services and information to support their needs. Communication is bi-directional, and the service provider is ready to respond through direct and indirect (such as social media) channels. The service provider can communicate directly to the client, the client feels in control, and the information they receive is personally relevant to them.

When the client receives a push notification advising them of a margin call they should be able to take all the necessary actions within the app.
When the client receives a push notification advising them of a margin call they should be able to take all the necessary actions within the app.

Lessons from Indonesia

Mobile is already here and dominates business-to-consumer marketing. In most of the world, it’s now the primary means of end-user engagement with online services. In many regions of Asia, mobile is the only way that many users use online services.

I asked Mr Jeffrey Ng about his experiences in Indonesia. Mr Ng is the CEO of the largest and longest established retail broker in Indonesia, Pt Monex Investindo Futures. Indonesia is a digitalised economy and Mr Ng is all too aware of the disruption caused to business by this digitalisation. Indeed, he positively welcomes it. He believes his company can continue to be agile, and he can use this as an opportunity to stay ahead of the competition.

According to consultancy Comscore1:

“Mobile devices account for 91% of all digital minutes in Indonesia. Mobile’s dominant share of time is driven primarily by apps, which account for 90% of all mobile minutes, and 82% of digital minutes as a whole.” This is massive, and reflects trends globally. “The 70% of Indonesia users who do not use desktop devices during a month is a significantly greater proportion than in other regions.” The trend is marginally more pronounced among younger demographics, but two thirds of users aged 35 or older use only smartphone and tablet devices to access digital content. “The 35+ age group is the most reliant on desktop, with 12% using it as their only device, and 20% in combination with mobile platforms.”

So, basically, unless a client is pretty ancient, she or he won’t be using a desktop computer and web browser. This is definitely a trend we are seeing all around the world, Indonesia is ahead of the curve, but all regions are heading in the same direction. What this means is that brokers have no choice but to provide engagement with the entirety of their business through mobile devices.

Mr Ng said “It used to be that buyers would follow a linear path to purchase. Things have changed now. Clients are unpredictable! Two thirds search online. They have multiple devices and switch between them. They research and compare, and more than 80% turn to their smartphone to support them in their buying decisions.”

Jeffrey Ng
Jeffrey Ng

Monex believe that they have an opportunity as innovators in mobile: “digital disruption provides opportunities to give a personalised experience using the smartphone.” Clients are presumed to be smart, connected, enjoying a full life, and interested in learning.

In a one-year programme of intensive research and development, with the help of Mobile Trading Partners’ team in Asia, Monex have reinvented their business around an industry-leading “mobile first” strategy that recognises that millennial clients will engage with the broker only through their mobile devices. All the way from initial customer signup through trading, account management and the provision of market-leading research and information for clients, everything is handled through the mobile apps. 

The Monex apps help them target their users with personalised direct marketing both through push notifications and in-app communication channels, provide extensive research and online information to help the clients learn, give them feedback on their trading performance to help transform their experience to be a winning one, so that the clients can always trade with confidence. 

Monex are successfully using this strategy to find, win, keep and grow their client relationships.

You can download the Monex mobile apps from the Apple and Google app stores. Please be aware that the apps are aimed at Indonesian users and the trading servers are all hosted in that region.

Mr Ng kindly shared this checklist for readers of e-Forex:

  1. understand how mobile fits into company strategy
  2. understand clients’ changing behaviour
  3. use mobile to engage with a soft touch
  4. use mobile technology to eliminate clients’ pain points
  5. select a good technology partner
It’s important to present trading opportunities, news and research information within the app
It’s important to present trading opportunities, news and research information within the app
It’s important to present trading opportunities, news and research information within the app
It’s important to present trading opportunities, news and research information within the app

Essential features for mobile training apps in 2018

Registration and On-boarding. The mobile device is ideal for this, users can directly capture and upload their identity information for KYC and AML checks, and the pain of the statutory checklists can be mitigated by allowing the client to go away from the forms and to return without losing their place.

Let the user manage their money. Clients should not have to leave the trading app to top up their account, or to request a withdrawal. If the broker supports multiple wallets or accounts, the client should be able to move funds between them using the app. When the client receives a push notification advising them of a margin call, they should be able to take all the necessary actions within the app. 

Engage the client in their own Success. Monex show clients how much they are “winning” or “losing” in the app’s main screens, and gives them all the tools they need to improve their trading skills, including intra-day updates and information to help them make the best trading decisions. Of course they cannot guarantee that every client will win, but they see it as a matter of pride that more win than lose.

Present trading opportunities, news and research information within the app. The broker can provide information that will excite traders about new opportunities and markets, and assist them in learning how to trade better. Internal research can be combined with bought-in data from suppliers such as FXStreet to make the app more engaging and relevant to the clients. Allow the clients to customise the app and filter what they see, to make it more personal to them. Monex do all this and more, even including access to algorithmic trading tools from Autotrader, and digital magazine content relevant to trading, all within the app.

Targeted Adverts. Monex are able to display images inside the app, from their own servers, that are targeted by individual user. This allows for some very smart marketing; the images look like they are baked into the app, but they are actually dynamic content that can be changed in response to market conditions or user activity, and clicking on them can take the user to other content inside or outside the app depending on the campaign’s needs.

Push Notifications. These are a superb medium for communicating with users, messages can be targeted right down to individual users for price alerts, margin calls, and so on, or can be used across segments to market trading opportunities or link to interesting new informational content inside the app. One of the best things about push notifications is they are received even if the app is closed; responding to the alert brings the user back into the app.

Refer a Friend. The Monex apps include a really clever feature that displays a QR code that can be shared and scanned by another smartphone. The original sales person or introducer is tagged in this QR code, alongside the referring user, so all can receive credit. It’s a wonderful basis for an affiliate marketing scheme. The QR codes can even be printed on business cards and handed out by IBs, so it integrates into their overall marketing strategy. 

Internal research can be combined with bought-in data from suppliers such as FXStreet to make the app more engaging and relevant to the clients.
Internal research can be combined with bought-in data from suppliers such as FXStreet to make the app more engaging and relevant to the clients. 

Provide channels for the client to speak with you. The client should be able to send messages and/or chat with sales and support people. Client engagement is a two-way process.

Design it well. There is a lot of information in an app like this! Discoverability can become a problem. The design must be clear and intuitive and recognise that different users have different needs, and it’s essential for them not to be overwhelmed.

Traders still expect a flawless trading experience
Traders still expect a flawless trading experience

Conclusions

There is a lot of information in this article so here are my key recommendations:

Rule number One
Ensure that your client can engage with every aspect of your business from mobile devices:

  • The entire lifecycle of the client’s interaction with your business must be included in your Mobile solution

Rule number Two
Your Mobile solution needs to demonstrate your Brand values clearly to prospective and current clients:

  • Mobile may be the only way they engage with you
  • Do it properly: don’t just wrap up a website and pretend it’s an App
  • Your brand values must always be upheld

Rule number Three
Traders still expect a flawless trading experience:

  • Trading is integral to your Mobile offering
  • …but on its own, it’s not enough in 2018

A final summary

Ensure that your client can engage with every aspect of your business from mobile devices and:

  • Do what you can to provide more value for your clients.
  • Respect that they have individual needs.
  • Allow your clients to communicate with you, too.
  • The Design must uphold your Brand Values.
  • Trading functionality must be perfect.
  • Service Delivery must be flawless.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?