December 2014: Advisor Forms Resources

This Annuity Monitor Report reviews all site resources centered on the gathering and retrieving of forms and applications for annuity contracts. While the forms themselves are reviewed on the basis of customization and data entry, their actual content and design were not evaluated. Specially, the report evaluates the following criteria:

  • Types of forms resources available
  • Location and accessibility of forms resources
  • Design and usability of the forms interface
  • Availability of customization options

In our assessment, we found that all 16 Annuity Monitor firms perform adequately well in their offerings of forms resources. There were no failing grades assigned since all of our firms satisfied the minimum level of detail and site resources devoted to forms. Eight firms received grades in the A-range for their noteworthy form search, sort and filter capabilities, as well as their user-friendly form libraries and wizards. The other firms mainly ranked in the B-range, as their offerings could improve, specifically in terms of the forms’ interface design and capabilities.

A majority of the firms made their forms resources easily accessible, with 75% providing access to form resources from a main tab on the navigation menu and 81% directly from the advisor homepage. Firms, however, varied the most in terms of capabilities offered, such as search, filter and sort, as well as download, email and ship options. Fourteen firms offer form filters, typically by product type, product name, transaction type and state. Eleven firms offer either a basic keyword search or a more robust advanced search. We also found that all firms allow agents to download and view forms directly from the site as PDFs or Word documents, though not all firms allow agents to email and mail forms.

Lastly, Forms Wizards and other form-related advisor tools serve as excellent resources for packaging and gathering related forms, especially with detailed processes like new business applications and other contract services. Half of the firms covered in this report provide advisors with a Forms Wizard and five of these firms allow users to select which forms to include in the final packet manually. These form tools enable advisors to customize searches and, in some cases, alter the forms and applications themselves using auto-fill features.

Additional key findings include:

  • Nine firms offer a dedicated form library.
  • Four firms feature a Favorites capability, allowing users to save forms for future access.
  • Seven firms include an upload/revision date on their results screens.