Schwab Stock Plan Services, part of brokerage and dealer service Charles Schwab & Co., on Tuesday announced plans to enhance its mobile app.

The new initiative represents an effort to ensure employees fully understand their equity benefits and can easily access information about their shares, according to Schwab.

Bloomberg/file photo

Schwab is one of many companies moving to increase mobile access. T. Rowe Price has an app that provides information on account balances and fund prices, and TD Ameritrade has one of the largest mobile platforms for devices from the iPad to Apple Watch.

Mobile apps often see higher rates of engagement among employee users, as they allow account access whenever and wherever, and usage is expected to increase thirteen-fold between 2012-2017, according to ADP. This is particularly true for those who work outside of an office and work in front of a computer. Employees at white-collar computer desk jobs are less likely to use mobile platforms because they can look at financial information throughout the workday, ADP says. Most mobile engagement comes from users looking at pay rather than their benefits.

“There is no question that that is the trend of the future — making sure employees understand what they have,” says Marc McDonough, vice president, Schwab Stock Plan Services.

An enhancement of Schwab’s preexisting mobile app will allow users to see their account summary and balance information, review vesting details and track purchased, exercised or unexercised shares on the go. McDonough says that their clients tend to be younger and want to be able to engage with Schwab in a variety of ways. The more access points clients are given, the easier it is for them to be involved in their company’s plan.

Improved access
Schwab also aims to increase employees’ understanding and engagement through both in-person education sessions at workplaces and its current website, which offers a chat function to connect clients to service representatives.

The ability to reach service professionals will now be available 24 hours a day Monday through Friday, in 13 different languages. It’s an attempt to cater to the large number of international clients the California-based stock plan service works with, many of whom are multilingual and may be working outside of standard U.S. business hours. Additionally, McDonough says, more available languages will make it easier for domestic clients who prefer to use a language other than English.

Clients will also be able to access information on Schwab’s automated phone system faster with the installation of Voice ID, a voice authentication system McDonough calls “safer than a fingerprint.” He says he has already been receiving positive feedback from clients. The system recognizes a user’s voice, eliminating time consuming PIN numbers and security questions.

“We are doing a lot of investing in the participant experience,” McDonough says. “We want to continue to improve that.”

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