Firms Prep Clients for Tax Season, Unveil New Apps and Release New Help Features

by on Mar 07, 2012

The primary focus of financial firms in February was unsurprisingly taxes, with a number of them adding tax software and tax center promotions to their sites, as well as announcements alerting clients that forms are available for download. Firms also enhanced a number of existing apps to include check deposit capabilities. Additionally, unique help features were added to a select few sites to assist clients with website issues.

Tax Time
Firms began preparing investors for the 2012 tax season by adding promotions, links and messages of all sorts to a number of pages scattered throughout their sites. StateFarm, OppenheimerFunds, American FundsRBC Wealth Management, Citibank, Key Bank, SunTrust and Wells Fargo all added images to pages throughout their sites promoting the their partnership with TurboTax. Oppenheimer also promoted partnerships with Quicken and H&R Block at Home. T. Rowe Price’s private site now features a new interstitial message directing users to their portfolio overview page, which announces that investors should have received their 1099 forms in late January. Smith Barney added a notice to the top of the public and private sites Tax Center indicating when Morgan Stanley Smith Barney 1099s will be mailed and where clients can locate them on the website. TD Ameritrade, RBC Wealth Management, ING, Sharebuilder, Merrill Lynch and Franklin Templeton all added a similar announcements. American Funds, Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo Advisors, and USAA recently added a 2012 Tax Center promotion to their respective sites. Finally, TIAA-CREF added a new Tax Tools & Tips section to the public homepage that links to the pre-existing public Tax Information page.


T. Rowe Price Interstitial Message
Mobile Accessibility Remains a Popular Concept
In February, a number of firms unveiled and upgraded mobile apps. Liberty Mutual launched the Home Gallery iPhone App, which assists clients trying to prepare for a renter’s or homeowner’s insurance claim by gathering the appropriate information prior to the loss. The Merrill Lynch and Merrill Edge iPhone apps now offer remote deposit capture, and their iPad apps offer bill pay. Meanwhile, E*TRADE amended the capability of its Android apps, adding a new mobile check deposit tool. Similarly, Citibank recently announced the ability to make mobile depositsusing the iPhone or Android mobile device. Additionally, Wells Fargo became the latest mutual fund firm to make its first steps into the mobile space with an optimized mobile site.


User Experience
Firms unveiled a number of help features aimed at assisting clients more quickly and effectively. Merrill Lynch began promoting a Co-Browse feature that allows a customer service representative to browse the site at the same time as the client, in order to provide remote assistance. Similarly, ShareBuilder unveiled a new Live Chat tool that provides investors with answers to questions in real time.  Finally, Discover added a toll-free number to talk to a live agent to the top of the Discover More Card page, providing users with an additional way to contact the firm.
In Other News…
Firms Unveil New ToolsAllianceBernstein and American Century both unveiled a Hypothetical Calculation tool. Charles Schwab added the Cost Basis Calculator to its site, and Liberty Mutual released the Renters Coverage Calculator. MetLife added the Advisor Prospecting Tool and USAA introduced the New Financial Goals Calculator.
External Sitelets Continue to Garner AttentionAmerican Expressrecently launched the new On Air sitelet dedicated to air travel news and packages, Capital One released a new sitelet for journey student rewards card members, Federated added a new sitelet that promotes the firm’s pre-existing Strategic Value Dividend Fund and International Strategic Value Dividend Fund. Finally, PIMCO released the Decoding the Eurozone Crisis Microsite.