December 2014 Trends & Highlights: Message Centers, Responsive Design and Plush Ponies

by on Jan 07, 2015


  • Brokerage Firms Know How to Send a Message – Over the course of December, e-Monitor observed the unveiling of enhanced private site message centers by both Ameriprise Financial and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Ameriprise clients can now securely upload, store and share financial documents with their advisors and other users within their account group. Furthermore, users of the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management message center now have the ability to view and manage active and expired appointments held with the firm through the addition of an Appointments section within the center.
  • Paying Bills Becomes Even Easier – This month, Fidelity and PNC each made enhancements to their respective private site bill pay services. As reported by both Annuity Monitor and e-Monitor, Fidelity clients can now review and submit payments at the top of the page from anywhere within the bill pay center. Furthermore, all payee features (payee details, eBill, eBill AutoPay, Reminders and Recurring Payments) are now grouped together within new expandable menus housed beneath each payee’s name. Clients can now also view their outstanding checks using a new Outstanding Payment Status feature. In a similar vein, Bank Monitor reported that users of the PNC bill pay service now have access to a new Payment Assistant tool, which displays biller contact information, along with a list of pending and recent payments.
  • Life Insurance Firms “Respond” to Clients’ Needs – Three firms covered by our Life Insurance MonitorNorthwestern Mutual, The Principal Financial and Nationwide – now collectively feature responsive design elements throughout their public and private sites. Northwestern Mutual’s new public site is composed of a fully responsive mobile- and tablet-optimized design, as is a preview version of The Principal Financial’s new semi-public advisor site. Finally, Nationwide updated its private site homepage, Personal Information, Preferences and Contact Us pages to feature a new responsive, mobile- and tablet-friendly design.



Vanguard Earns its Name with its Unveiling of Innovative New Security Features

This month, Vanguard introduced a unique new voice verification service that allows clients to bypass traditional security questions and conduct specific transactions without requiring a notarized signature or signature guarantee when calling the firm. The service records clients’ voices as they respond to certain phrases over the phone, thus allowing the firm to compare a client’s voice against the recorded version during future calls. Additionally, a new security code feature unveiled by the firm sends clients a six-digit code via text message to be entered along with their username and password when signing into the private site or mobile app. Clients can choose to use a code (which expires after ten minutes and can only be used once) for every login or only when logging in on unrecognized devices.

New_Public_Site_Voice_Verification_Page-_Vanguard New Public Site Voice Verification Page – Vanguard


Merrill Edge Aims to Educate Novice and Experienced Investors Alike

The firm boosted retirement and life stage planning educational content within its private site Guidance & Retirement tab, adding new investor experience level segmentation, along with a section that provides novice investors with detailed information about how to begin the investing process. Furthermore, a new Investor Education center, housed within the updated tab, organizes content by investing experience level. A new Life Stage Planning section also provides extensive information about key life events and how they affect wealth planning. As many brokerage firms today seek to reach out to and retain the elusive millennial investor, Merrill Edge’s introduction of educational content tailored toward younger clients is a smart move.

 New_Investor_Education_Center-_Merrill_Edge_Private_SiteNew Investor Education Center – Merrill Edge Private Site


Wells Fargo’s Plush Pony Makes another Holiday Comeback

As part of Wells Fargo’s annual holiday promotion, the firm pledged to send a free plush pony by the name of “El Toro” to all new customers who opened a checking account through December 31, 2014. The firm promoted the plush pony gift, which is modeled after an historic Wells Fargo horse, on its Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the month. Though a gimmicky gesture it may be, Wells Fargo’s stuffed gift pays homage to its traditional roots in a holiday season which is now characterized by the exchange of e-cards and gift certificates.


“El Toro” Promotional Tweet