February 2015 Trends & Highlights: Contests, Super Bowl Ads and Biometrics

by on Mar 04, 2015


  • Two Public Brokerage Sites Receive a Makeover – Both Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management revamped their public sites to feature tiled images, responsive design and much more contemporary appearances. While Morgan Stanley’s revamped site highlights the firm’s employees and proprietary research, the Merrill Lynch public site provides unique customization options and assessments that help users find education and research based on their individual needs and interests. Both sites represent clear departures from their antiquated predecessors, and are hopefully indicative of similar changes to come in the full-service brokerage space.
  • Contests and Giveaways Take Center Stage – Four firms across all our Monitor groups announced new contests and campaigns in February. The Principal Financial is currently promoting its annual Big Ten contest, giving public site users a chance to win a trip for two to the Big Ten Men’s Championship basketball game in Chicago on March 15. TD Bank is promoting a giveaway that provides new customers who open checking and savings accounts and enroll in online banking with a Fitbit FLEX through March 7. U.S. Bank is challenging customers to complete financial learning modules for entry in a contest which will award up to $60,000 in total prizes. Finally, USAA offered a #YourFutureYou social media contest which ran from February 2-15 and encouraged users to share up to six photographs with captions describing how they envision their future for the chance to win a $5,000 grand prize or one of two $200 prizes. Whether monetarily rewarding or simply entertaining, contests and social media campaigns are excellent means by which to encourage client engagement and brand loyalty.
  • Adding to the Toolbox – Our Mutual Fund Advisor Monitor reviewed three new tools across the firms in its coverage group this week. First, iShares released “Are ETFs Right for You?” – a rich media tool that employs a five-part questionnaire in order to gauge investors’ investing preferences and ultimately provide personalized information about the advantages of investing in ETFs. Second, OppenheimerFunds added a new Historical Prices module that functions as a fund comparison tool, assessing up to five funds at a time with results in both graph and chart format. Finally, Fidelity released a new Sector Investigator tool that allows advisors to test hypothetical assumptions against the phases of the U.S. business cycle/



Credit Card Reward Redemption Hits the Streets

In an industry first, Wells Fargo announced that cardholders who are currently enrolled in the Wells Fargo rewards program can now instantly redeem rewards in $20 installments at Wells Fargo ATMs in the forms of cash, deposits or payment. As Wells Fargo is the first firm of its kind to offer such a service, it will be interesting to see whether customers and competitors alike latch on to it as an efficient alternative to digital reward redemption.

Super Bowl Ads Make Waves

Esurance introduced its new advertising campaign – Sorta You – through two television commercials aired during the Super Bowl. The commercials feature actors Lindsay Lohan and Bryan Cranston and spotlight the firm’s tailored coverage packages. Nationwide chose the celebrity approach as well, featuring Mindy Kaling promoting the firm’s goal to treat its customers as individuals, rather than numbers. Moreover, in a more controversial move, Nationwide released a purposely jarring commercial introducing its “Make Safe Happen” campaign, which addresses the prevalence of childhood deaths caused by preventable accidents. While there was widespread surprise and negativity in the online response to the ad, Nationwide was successful in bringing the issue of preventable childhood deaths (and the Nationwide name) to the forefront of many post-Super Bowl discussions.


“Make Safe Happen” Public Homepage Image


USAA Launches Biometric Login for its Mobile App

USAA clients can now use face and voice recognition to log on to the firm’s mobile app. To establish the biometric entry method, clients must record their voice and capture an image of their face. Following brief setup steps, clients can then log in to the app either through regular PIN access, by blinking for facial recognition, or by reading a short phrase in order attain vocal recognition. With financial services firms increasingly besieged by hackers, USAA’s use of biometrics is an innovative advancement in client authentication that we expect competitors to mimic in the near future.


Facial Recognition, PIN and Voice Recognition