August 2015: Client Security Advice Positioning

This report focuses on the security advice and resources offered to clients of each brokerage in our coverage group. Though we provide a high-level overview of each security center, we approach this topic from the lens of a client concerned about the security of her investments and interested in learning what steps she can take to improve her account security. Firms that offer comprehensive security advice online can help reassure clients and stave off the concerned phone call, saving the firm time and money. We also dive into any special security features firms advertise on their security centers, and discuss the steps firms would like clients to take if they suspect fraudulent activity. While many brokerages provide back-end security technology to protect sensitive information online, we did not review such details or the login security process for this report. Finally, this report relies more heavily on the Best Practices section than previous reports, highlighting our suggestions for improvement based on examples compiled throughout the competitive set.

Catering to prospective clients, all 18 firms in this report commendably offer security centers, or a dedicated security section, on their public sites. Only four out of 18 firms maintain public security centers as standalone sections, while the rest incorporate the public security centers into the site’s overall structure. Despite all of the firms’ providing public site security centers, however, we found a considerable amount of variation in public and private site offerings. Nearly half of the firms in this report do not offer the same security center across the public and private site. Though all of the firms implore investors to take independent protective measures to ensure the highest of level of security, only three offer clients access to free or discounted security software.

Additional key findings include:

  • Roughly half of the firms contain dedicated subsections on mobile security.
  • Only three firms offer clients examples of phishing emails.
  • Only two firms provide videos in their security centers.