The vast majority of Canadian financial advisors are using mobile devices in their daily activities and say they are more effective as a result, according to the results of the recently conducted 2014 Survey of Advisors and Mobile Devices.

Ninety-four per cent of financial advisors surveyed said they are more effective as a result of using mobile devices for business purposes, with 47% indicating that they are much more effective. However, many advisors also said they are not using mobile devices to their full potential and would like the opportunity to use the technology in ways that could further improve their efficiency.

The survey of 450 advisors across Canada, conducted by Montreal-based Transcontinental Inc.’s TC Media’ business solutions group in partnership with Credo Consulting Inc. of Toronto, found that advisors have embraced smartphones to a greater extent than tablets. (Investment Executive is part of TC Media’s business solutions group.)

Among the advisors surveyed, 93% said they use smartphones in their day-to-day activities vs 50% of advisors who say they use tablets.

“There is more gravitation,” says Larry Lubin, president and CEO of BlueRush Digital Media Corp. of Toronto, which commissioned the survey, “toward the smartphone as an ideal device to be using on a regular basis.”

This is probably due, in part, to the fact that advisors who are already using smartphones may not feel the need to use a tablet. Although tablets have larger screens, which make those devices more effective for presentations and client meetings, tablets otherwise serve many of the same purposes as smartphones but without the basic phone feature.

“There could be an inundation,” says Lubin. “If you’re walking around with a smartphone, a tablet and a notebook [computer], it starts to be a bit too much.”

Advisors’ mobile device usage is up substantially overall from 2012, when a similar survey found that 72% of advisors were using smartphones and 37% were using tablets. The recent results indicate that advisors also have become quite a bit more advanced in the way they use their devices in the past two years.

“Before,” says Lubin, “everybody was using email, people would have installed a number of apps [and] they might have been looking at their browsers. Now, we are seeing more use of things such as calculators.”

Communication is key

It’s not surprising that communication is the primary function for which advisors are using their smartphones, with at least 90% of advisors reporting that they use the devices for email, voice calling and text messaging.

However, many advisors also are using their smartphones for a broader range of activities, such as business productivity tasks (75%), online tools such as calculators and simulators (67%), searching the web (63%), accessing product manufacturers’ websites (46%), cloud computing (31%) and remote access to a computer (31%). About 25% of advisors surveyed also use their smartphone during meetings with clients and to prepare for client meetings.

Advisors who have a tablet use that device for many of the same tasks as smartphones are used for. However, a higher percentage of advisors use a tablet during client meetings (57%), when preparing for client meetings (52%), for cloud computing (48%) and for remote access to a computer (42%).

Advisors are also more likely to use their tablet than their smartphone for other work-related purposes, such as for continuing education and accessing client information on their dealer networks and on product manufacturers’ websites.

Although the tablet lends itself to these kinds of business-related functions, advisors who have a tablet said that only 39.7% of the time they spend using the device is for business purposes.

In contrast, advisors who use a smartphone said that more than half of the time (53.3%) they spend using it is for business purposes. This probably is because, Lubin says, of the vital communication functions that a smartphone performs.

“What does a day look like for an advisor?” Lubin asks. “An advisor is meeting people, calling people and sending things, and browsing [the web]. A smartphone really does a beautiful job of being able to fulfil all of those functions.”

A lot more potential

The survey results also suggest that advisors don’t feel they are getting the most out of their mobile devices. There are numerous other tasks that these advisors would like to be able to perform on their tablets and smartphones. For example, although some advisors already use their devices for such tasks as filling out forms, accessing client information, using proprietary applications, continuing education and reviewing prospectuses with clients, a much larger proportion of advisors said they would like the ability to do so. Says Lubin: “There’s a lot more potential that they haven’t tapped into.”

In some cases, advisors are limited in their mobile capabilities because of lack of support, apps and tools from their firms, Lubin says. Although the vast majority of advisors said their firm either supports their mobile devices or allows them to be used for work purposes without providing explicit support, Lubin says, the industry has been slow to provide mobile functionality and to develop proprietary apps for advisors.

As mobile communication technology has become more prominent, though, Lubin adds, firms have begun to develop more mobile-friendly apps and tools, which is likely to foster even greater adoption of mobile technology.

“We feel that it’s a ‘field of dreams’ to a certain extent – build it and they will come,” says Lubin. “Providing more things that [advisors] could use would help them in their daily life.”

The 2014 Survey of Advisors and Mobile Devices, conducted between April 15 and April 24, has a margin of error of about 5%. For more on advisors and their use of mobile devices, see

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