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10/26/2009
01:21 PM
Bob Evans
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Fidelity Sees Surge In Mobile From Gen X And Y Customers

A search for "chief wireless officer" shows it's a very exclusive club. One name that'll come up is Fidelity Investments' chief wireless officer Joseph Ferra, whose 10-year advocacy for mobile IT has driven huge growth for Fidelity Anywhere, particularly among Gen X and Gen Y clients.

A search for "chief wireless officer" shows it's a very exclusive club. One name that'll come up is Fidelity Investments' chief wireless officer Joseph Ferra, whose 10-year advocacy for mobile IT has driven huge growth for Fidelity Anywhere, particularly among Gen X and Gen Y clients.Featured among seven executives who have driven exceptional technology innovation in 2009 by our sister brand WallStreet&Tech.com, Ferra and his mobile advocacy have driven massive increases in wireless trades in the past three years:

Over the past three years, Fidelity has experienced triple-digit year-over-year growth in the number of wireless trades, users and log-ins to Fidelity Anywhere, Ferra reports. "It's due to Gen X and Gen Y and the newer devices such as the iPhone," he says.

Nonetheless, to promote adoption, Fidelity has had to dispel some of the myths about wireless, including that it's expensive, unsafe, difficult to use and slow. "Not true," responds Ferra. He points to mobile carriers' data plans as an affordable option for consumers and adds that "Fidelity used cryptography" to secure customers' data. As for ease of use, Ferra says devices like the iPhone and 3G networks have overcome the usability and speed obstacles.

Today Fidelity provides market data, quotes, research and news, after-hours trading, and options trading via the mobile channel, and customers still want to do more on their mobile phones, says Ferra, who notes that one of the firm's goals is to offer a seamless transition between Fidelity.com and Fidelity Anywhere.

And while those issues of security and portability will always remain essential for Fidelity, two other key initiatives driven by Ferra and his team are overall ease of use and widespread presence on the types of phones most popular among young professionals, who represent the next wave of core customer for Fidelity.

"There's been a tremendous focus on ease of use -- on improving the end-user's experience and to simplify as much as possible," Ferra comments. Today Fidelity Anywhere applications operate on the latest, most popular devices, including the BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm Pre and Google's Android operating system. "Our application today is device agnostic -- it runs wherever you have a Web browser," explains Ferra, who reiterates that he keeps an eye on developments in the mobile space to ensure that Fidelity Anywhere remains current.

. . . . But perhaps the trend with the most potential to change the mobile user experience, according to Ferra, is the growing use of SMS texting by Generations X and Y, which use their mobile devices to send more SMS text messages than they do to make telephone calls. SMS messaging, he notes, works over a cell phone's voice network -- it doesn't require the user to have a data plan. "Now you're audience for text messaging expands -- you can touch everybody with a cell phone," Ferra says. "It's a much more convenient way to reach a wider audience."

You can see the full profile of Ferra as well as the entire "2009 Gold Book" report of high-profile IT leaders in the investment community here.

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