Updates to Product and Services – Nine firms across monitors performed updates to their products and services in February. Some firms made small revisions, such as the Pacific Life Pacific Choice annuity product’s new availability in California and Bank of America’s introduction of new Zelle platform transfer limits. Others made larger changes to the benefits of their offerings. BlackRock announced that its iRetire service now offers advisors access to the full BlackRock model portfolios suite. An updated version of Prudential’s PruLife Survivorship Index UL (2019) product now offers the Survivorship BenefitAccess Rider, which offers full death benefits should the surviving insured—or both insured—become chronically or terminally ill. American Express increased the annual fee on its Business Platinum card; however, with this escalation, the product now offers two annual statement credits on Dell purchases up to $200 and one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. Lincoln Financial Group updated five of its annuity products. The firm, along with Principal, also amended their application processes to decrease review time. Another trend of note is enhancements made to online capabilities. For example, Nationwide clients can now perform online beneficiary changes, electronic fund transfers and life service requests through DocuSign. MassMutual also improved its Client Reports Central worksheets based on advisor feedback.
Mobile Updates – Nine firms in the Mobile Monitor coverage group updated their apps’ capabilities in February. Ally, Discover and PNC Bank redesigned specific function interfaces: product exploration, reward redemption and profile and settings screens, respectively. TD Ameritrade’s Android app features a completely revamped aesthetic with new font styles and background colors. Two firms introduced new chat functions to their apps; Fidelity added the Virtual Assistant chatbot, and Discover launched a live chat capability. Another notable trend is the addition of Apple Watch-compatible features. KeyBank’s mobile app now allows account holders to view their balances and transactions via the watch, and Robinhood now boasts Apple Watch Crypto support.
New app features rolled out by five firms span a variety of topics, from security to tax document access. Security updates include BB&T’s new in-app forgotten user ID retrieval and KeyBank’s lost, stolen and damaged card reporting. The Robinhood mobile app now allows its users to view and share their 1099s on a dedicated Tax Documents screen. Chase and PNC Bank stand out for their innovative new features. In accordance with the recent launch of Chase’s Saving It program, the firm added an Autosave tool that allows account holders to set up repeating transfers from their checking to their savings accounts. PNC Bank introduced a geo-location capability to its iOS and Android apps that displays a map preview above new and active offers.
Pacific Life Launches New Next Microsite
A new Next by Pacific Life microsite advertises simple insurance products available through digital platforms. Findable from the firm’s public site Next page, the microsite features abstract cartoons and dynamic sections that appear as users scroll. Users must go to Blueprint Income to get a quote for the Next annuity, but Blueprint Income requires that prospects create an account to see which firm provides a given quote. Blueprint Income lists Guardian, Lincoln Financial, MassMutual, Nationwide, Principal and USAA as other insurance partners.
New York Life Revamped Its Public Site
New York Life redesigned its public site, simplifying design by featuring more white space and larger icons and eliminating photographs and customizable content. The site provides a general overview of the firm’s various products but includes far less information than the previous iteration, instead encouraging prospects to contact an agent to learn more or ask about less common products. The firm no longer offers specific product pages, instead providing general overviews of product types. The removal of specific product information from public sites follows an industry-wide trend, as seen in revamps by MassMutual and Transamerica.