October 2014: Assessing Contract Information Displayed on the Client Website

Offering a full-spectrum of contract details promotes transparency, especially considering that fees are generally regarded as hidden by contract owners. Additionally, as all contract details are not of equal importance to clients, the manner in which the data is displayed can have a large impact on the overall effectiveness of the site. This Annuity Monitor Report analyzes the client account information displayed on our coverage firms’ private sites, with a focus on contract details, location and presentation.

We looked at the following criteria for the report:

  • The type of account information included on the firms’ account details pages/sections.
  • Location of the account information on the private websites.
  • How the information and pages/sections are presented, designed and organized.

Overall, most firms display important contract information within dedicated private site detail pages, five of which offer the information prominently on the private site homepage. Eight firms received grades in the A-range for excelling in the amount of contract details presented on the private site, including annuitant, joint owner, beneficiary and financial professional details, as well as contract number, product name, issue date, and contract fees and investment figures. Ten firms received grades within the B-range for their organization and presentation of information, and also for including other resources, such as term definitions and direct access to account management capabilities. These firms, however, were unable to rank higher as the contract details sections lacked in content depth.

The layout and organization of the account information vary greatly across the coverage firms. Some firms received recognition for their easy-to-comprehend presentations that incorporate alternate row shading in tables, group related content within bold sectional borders and properly titled sectional headings. There were some firms that include disjointed layouts and haphazardly scattered key contract information as lists on a page or across multiple pages; this is more frequently associated with antiquated sites or ones that offer multiple lines of business.

Some contract information displays also provide noteworthy Web features that add value to the overall section. The most common features include historical contract value filters that allow users to select a date (offered by 11 firms), and the ability to view all respective contract values and help features, such as intra-page term definitions (offered by nine firms).

Additional key findings include:

  • Five firms provide clients with a holistic account overview upon login.
  • Twelve firms provide personal information about the account owner on the private site.
  • Four firms provide personal rate of return information.