Practical analysis for investment professionals
08 June 2015

The End of the Smartphone: What It Means for Investment Professionals

The next global extinction event is on the horizon . . . and it will dramatically change how the wealth management industry conducts day-to-day business, including how it connects with clients.

The day that your iPhone or Android grows as obsolete as the rotary phone might seem far away — especially if you’re reading this article on one of those devices right now. But the smartphone’s rampant success is already leading to its demise. As a recent CNBC article explains, “the smartphone market has reached maturity, and year-over-year growth is declining gradually.”

The time is ripe for a disruption — when money flows en masse from existing businesses and business models to new ones. Think of the shift from pagers to BlackBerry devices, or from the BlackBerry to the iPhone and Android.

So what is the next evolutionary step up from smartphones? It’s something that I’ve been noticing take hold for a while now in the more tech-savvy environs of Southeast Asia. Just take a look at my recent blog post, “Your Clothes Are Still Made in China but Now They Are Wearables.”

Yes, I’m talking about wearables — devices like the Google Glass and Apple Watch that have all the “smart” capabilities of your iPhone or Android coupled with the constant usability of a clothing accessory. Let’s say you’re walking through the city and you want to check a stock quote. Using a smartphone, you have to take the time to pull it out and look down at it. We’ve all felt the inconvenience and potential danger of walking with that distraction, especially in busy cities like New York, Boston, or Chicago.

Now imagine for a second that you can make that stock quote appear in your field of vision. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it because this online concept video for Fidelity Market Monitor for Glass demonstrates exactly what it would look like to wear the Google Glass equipped with Fidelity’s investment app. In the video, a man walks through his daily routine while logging on to his online account, hearing news articles read aloud, and checking stock quotes and the markets — all completely hands free.

A word of caution, however: A wave of Google Glass sales hasn’t happened yet and it may be some time before one does. On 15 January, Google announced that it was ending sales of the Glass prototype but is still committed to working on a newer version of it. This move came amid criticisms of the product in the media and privacy concerns that led some restaurants, bars, and movie theaters to ban the use of smartglasses.

Still, even with those temporary setbacks, the fact is that the times they are a-changin’: smartphones are becoming outdated technology and wearables are the next big thing.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Fidelity is an early innovator in developing a wearable investment app. As we industry veterans know all to well, Wall Street was an early adopter of smartphone technology, grasping the benefits of instant access to e-mail and real-time information before many other industries. Remember when you were one of the few people on your morning commute using a BlackBerry?

Looking forward, financial advisers and other wealth management professionals will have to be as savvy with wearables as they currently are with smartphones — otherwise, it’ll be like trying to get by with a pager today. And there’s no time to take a “wait-and-see” approach when it comes to anticipating the moment when wearables will dominate smart technology sales. Those who wait will be too far behind to catch up.

So what can CFA charterholders and other wealth management professionals do to prepare their businesses for the demise of smartphones? Frankly, a lot. Here are three ways to get started:

  1. Familiarize yourself with wearable devices — both those currently available as well as the ones under development. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Read news articles about the Apple Watch and Google Glass. And if you really want to stay in touch, set up a Google Alert on the products. If you have time, go to an Apple Store and try out an Apple Watch.
  2. Start to dream. Now that you have a basic understanding of what wearable technology can do — or will be able to do — start thinking about how it could change your daily routine, including the ways you do business. You may want to re-watch the Fidelity Market Monitor for Glass video to get ideas.
  3. Talk to clients. Many, if not most, of your clients will have heard of wearables like the Apple Watch even if they personally don’t own them yet. Talk to them informally and hypothetically about how they would use the technology to manage their finances and investments. These talks could help you develop a wearable-compatible app that is tailored to your clients’ wants and needs. And even if you and your firm don’t have the resources to create your own app, these talks can help you plan how you will use wearables and existing apps to connect with and serve clients.

The inevitable extinction of smartphones will impact the way you do business. Either you can be proactive and use the next generation of smart technology — that is, wearables — to your advantage, or you can play catch-up when the time comes. The choice is yours.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/JackJelly

About the Author(s)
April J. Rudin

Founder and president of The Rudin Group, April J. Rudin is widely acknowledged as a top marketing strategist for the financial services and wealth management sectors. She is recognized by Onalytica as the #1 "Influencer" in wealth management, and is a regularly featured source of expert commentary to international news and business outlets, trade publications, and broadcast media. Rudin is an annual contributor to the Capgemini World Wealth Report, produces the Annual Outlook for US Wealth Management for Enterprising Investor, and speaks about wealth, next-gen, and fintech at conferences throughout world. Her thought leadership has appeared in Huffington Post, American Banker, Enterprising Investor, Family Wealth Report, Fundfire, and Wealthmanagement.com. She is the mother of two sons who are quick to point out that they considered her an “influencer” well before Onalytica did.

25 thoughts on “The End of the Smartphone: What It Means for Investment Professionals”

  1. David Botbol says:

    I love that ! This is regaining lost ground on machines

    1. Balajee B R says:

      Interesting one.

  2. Gaurav Sodhi says:

    Yes , we should be prepared for such an inevitable change, it will really help us to get an advantage over others. And being familiar with the technology is no harm so we should go for it …

  3. Jkg5340@hotmail.com says:

    I am interested in wearable , and where it is now on the stock market . What is the
    Current price of wearable stock?

  4. Nkosi Cele says:

    That would be very interesting especially making a call and texting using a wearables

  5. peg mattos says:

    I do think this technology is a great step forward, and I believe it will do great on the market. I wonder however how well the watch will do.
    People have smartphones with big screens for a reason. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

  6. Joko says:

    Yes it well happen but not that fast … smart phones will still be around

  7. A. Commenter says:

    Dear Ms Rudin,

    I’m afraid that some of your assumptions are fundamentally flawed.

    Most significantly, a decline in growth rate is in no way equitable to a market being in decline. Maturity is the phase which follows the growth phase, and can be characterised by said declining growth rates. Maturity can last a long time, and won’t transition into decline until the market begins to shrink. It is quite obvious then that the smartphone market is not in decline. The market is merely saturated.

    Further, there is no clear evidence that wearable devices will supplant smartphones. As far as I am aware, the Apple watch is primarily a second screen for an existing smartphone, and is indeed unable to function on it’s own. Were it to do so, it would still merely be a tiny smartphone on a wrist strap. Google’s glass is a far more revolutionary device, but is at this stage just a prototype. There are an incredible number of design and usability issues which will need to be addressed before it can become a mass marketable product. At this point in time even voice recognition software fails to perform reliably. It is very difficult to understand how anyone might that think that these types of devices could replace the smartphone in the near future.

    Finally, an extinction event refers to a large reduction in biodiversity and life on the planet, usually as a result of a major change in the planet’s climate. Please refrain from using to to refer to the decline of a sub-set of a product market.

    Sincerely,

    A. Commenter

    1. Sunny says:

      Very valid reasoning.I appreciate ur comments.

    2. d says:

      Correct on many levels. …article reads like a poorly, hastily written advertorial.

      I teach technology & journalism. .and when this subject comes up…it’s relegated to the…”whatever bin” by students…many in the field, in lieu of real, practical and germaine ideas and tech.

    3. Avinash Karnik says:

      Your assessment sounds more likely as wearables may not be welcomed so soon. There have been reports of the smartwatch causing skin problems.Wearables may become irritating monkey on the back. I feel an independent device like smartphone will live for long

  8. Leo says:

    I personally think that we’re not yet going out of the smart phone era . That there will be a new generation of ” Smarter ” phones : Transparent , lighter , slimmer and they will be powered by AI through our Home PCs and connected to the cloud , their content will be beamed through certain surfaces and even hologrammed . To keep hands free from all of that an Ear piece with a mic will suffice as its accessory wearable device .

  9. Anto Prabowo Soemartono says:

    “Dick Tracy” comics had a head start 55 years ago, with his “Video and Audio” watch.

  10. Jay says:

    In plain view, this to me seemed like an endorsement for Apple Watch and probably the next iteration of Google Glass. As for the future of technology, you want it to be a non-distraction just as you pointed out about pulling out a smart phone and being wary of distracting yourself on a busy street! On the contrary, being handsfree and fixated on your google glass with constant flow of information too is distracting for an average human mind!

    The high tech industry needs to move away from promoting how powerful their HW is spec’d to a mere solution (an architecture of inter-connected user devices and M2M systems) that it is able to provide.

  11. Sunny says:

    It would be a fallacy to assume that an era of some device is coming to an end just because some industry expert believes in it.I agree with some of the critics above.I am not going to wear a watch with a big screen.Talking about now,i don’t think i need a small wearable device to replace smartphones.

  12. enamue abdul says:

    I idol great thinkers who keep turning the world for a better place. If wearable is the next stage so shall it be.

  13. Chris Q. says:

    I would like to add another dimension to this subject.Just food for thought. If the smartphones are being replaced by wearables,then what will be replacing the wearables?…Just a hint.: Robohumanoids

  14. alex says:

    Absolute tosh. Try looking at a spreadsheet or any more than 2 lines of email on an Apple watch and see if it will replace your smartphone. Specsavers will do great business on the back of this “event”!

  15. Phil says:

    Smartphones are nowhere near extinction to be honest. Wearables are largely still accessories to smartphones. I would even like to dispute that the smartphone market is a mature market. It might be mature in the developed world but here in the developing world smartphones are still emerging technologies.

    Smartphones as we know them could change. I expect them to become more integrated with other technologies to create a smarter environment. You can already see this kind of integration with the development of windows 10 and universal apps. AI capabilities like Cortana are being extended and deployed into new areas like Microsoft office.

    To be honest, this article was poor and not thought through….

  16. Gregory says:

    Hmmmm.

  17. Marie says:

    another trend is the health hasards that smartphones and wearables both have. To expose your body of the constant searching for wifi spots creates a high electrical impact on your body – is it wise to bring it closer to the human body?

  18. Nifemi says:

    sure to happen

  19. Zaldy Gutierrez says:

    I am still not convinced with what the author is trying to project in this article. It seems so wrong to say that smart phone is on the verge of its end. I am neither agree that its already reached its pick and on its declining stage. I still think there is a lot of innovations for these technology to come. There are certain capabilities that these current wearables cant do right now that the smartphone can still can greatly do. An example of these is gaming. 🙂

  20. Faisal Usman Malik says:

    I think technology is only successful, if it is in your pocket and don’t interrupt the appearance of the user.

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