Financial firms were particularly active this December, unveiling a number of iPad apps that grant users the ability to conduct research, provide access to watchlists and offer private site capabilities. Firms also released redesigned websites featuring updated methods of navigation. Our inaugural Life Insurance Monitor Update reported trends in the industry, including the release of two new tools and a revamped site.
Life Insurance Monitor Debuts “Updates”
Life Insurance Monitor released its inaugural bi-weekly Update in early December, just a month after the very first P&C Insurance Monitor Update was launched. In the first edition, Life Insurance Monitor reported a revamped Pacific Life website featuring a more modern appearance and an improved main menu, and a new tool from MetLife and New York Life.
New Pacific Life Public Homepage
iPad Apps Gain Momentum
A number of iPad Apps were released in December. Fidelity and Charles Schwab unveiled new iPad applications that allow customers to trade, research, track a portfolio and manage finances. UBSis also offering an app for the iPad that allows financial advisors to access research materials, contact and account information, market data and email. GEICO added an app for the iPad, as well as the iPhone and Android devices, which allows users to pay their bills and file a claim. John Hancockintroduced a new iPad application, available for customers and financials professionals, which enables users to easily access product information, marketing materials and tools. Additionally, Fidelity recently released the Fidelity Market Monitor Widget on Verizon FiOS, allowing users to personalize a stock watchlist and receive the latest market news on their TV set. This feature will be unveiled for the iPad in January 2012.
Three firms completely revamped their sites, while two firms implemented new methods of navigation. Pacific Life released a new public site that includes design improvements, an improved main navigation menu featuring flyout menus and a universal client account sign-in menu. UBS also redesigned its public site, unveiling a new static top menu bar that includes dropdowns with quicklinks and additional white space atop each page. American Funds revamped its private site, which now boasts a navigational menu that streamlines access to a full range of the site’s new and pre-existing features. Wells Fargo added rollover flyout menus to its private site main menu. Similarly, Allstate recently equipped its main menu with rollover flyout menus as well. In related news, Chase revealed a number of private site modifications, including a new Document Center and an updated Change Address/Phone page, following its private site revamp last month.
In Other News…
- Two firms – Fifth Third and American Express – launched new customer satisfaction programs, offering automatic savings and reimbursement to clients. Additionally, two firms – Barclaysand Wells Fargo – announced new sweepstakes, in which clients will be enrolled once they sign up for eDelivery.
- Firm’s announced reworked commissions schedules. OptionsXpress lowered its online stock commissions. Charles Schwab altered a number of its mutual fund commissions, including rendering the sale of funds free of charge when traded either online or over the phone. Merrill Lynch simplified its commission structure, implementing one $6.95 fee. E*TRADE introduced new commission-free ETFs.
- A number of tools were added to financial service firms’ sites. MetLife unveiled the Life Insurance Policy Finder tool that enables individuals to search for unclaimed policies in the firm’s records. ING Direct added the Quick Biller Tool. PIMCO released a new tool that allows advisors to view the returns of a given fund over a customizable date range. Travelers added a new tool that provides auto, home and umbrella coverage recommendations. Finally, Citibank added nine new financial tools meant to help clients organize, track and plan their financial life.
- Both American Express and Nationwideadded new Google+ icons to their respective public site static footers.