January 2017 Trends & Highlights: Gamified Retirement Planning, Merrill Edge Guided Investing and Financial Wellness

by on Feb 10, 2017


Financial Wellness Continues to Trend in the New Year Four firms added public site educational content covering a range of topics. TD Ameritrade added a public site Guidance section focusing on four goals—Retirement, Education, Wealth Generation and Other—to coincide with the firm’s renaming of its automated investment platform, now dubbed Selective Portfolios. Franklin Templeton also added public site education content, defining mutual funds, listing the available varieties and explaining how they can help investors meet objectives. The firm also released an Active Views page that summarizes how active investing affects the macro environment, as well as different sectors and asset classes. State Farm added a Simple Insights microsite organizing educational articles of best practices for home maintenance, auto safety and personal finance. Lastly, Guardian Life launched a Financial Confidence Quiz that recommends educational resources based on prospects’ agreement with statements about their finances and invites them to share their results via email or social media. Alternately, Ameriprise launched the next stage of its Be Brilliant ad campaign which includes three 30-second commercials showcasing how Ameriprise advisors can help investors achieve long-term financial goals. Lastly, the new Credit Journey program from Chase offers any user free access to their TransUnion credit scores with weekly updates, optional alerts and a simulation tool.

Twenty-Seven Firms Acknowledge 2017 – Fidelity and Janus both issued special reports for the new year, examining the big picture and investment outlook. Most content focused forecasts for the new year or looking back on 2016. AB, Allianz, Charles Schwab and Nationwide wrote optimistically about 2017, while Fidelity, MassMutual, TD Ameritrade and Vanguard looked about at 2016. Alternately, some firms used the theme of resolutions to frame their new year content: Fidelity, Lincoln Financial Group, Principal and USAA. Lastly, 16 firms published commentaries and articles for the new year: AB, American Century, American Funds, Hartford Funds, Invesco, J.P. Morgan, John Hancock Investments, Legg Mason, Lord Abbett, OppenheimerFunds, T. Rowe Price and Voya. Four of these 16 firms posted video commentaries: BlackRock, Eaton Vance, Federated and PIMCO.

New Products and Updated Navigation from 10 Firms – Three firms—Ally Bank, Athene and Dreyfus—updated their private sites with new navigation structures, and sections that reorganize existing pages and new designs. The Dreyfus redesign coincides with a full private site revamp that also added responsive capabilities and enhanced visuals. MassMutual redesigned its public site navigational structure, and also added a new font and blue color scheme, with simpler icons. Erie revamped its public site which now provides improved navigation along with responsive capabilities and content with graphs and charts. Six firms launched new products this month including five annuity products, one credit card and one automated investing platform. Barclaycard US introduced the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard, providing exclusive American Airlines benefits with a $95 annual fee. Merrill Edge launched the Guided Investing automated investment platform, discussed in detail below. Lastly, Athene introduced two fixed annuity products while Lincoln Financial Group, Pacific Life and Transamerica each added a variable annuity product.



Wells Fargo Launches Retirement Game

The firm launched Retirement City, a game that helps participants learn about retirement and financial wellness topics. In this virtual world, participants complete challenges, including mini games and educational videos, in order to move through the game’s five levels.

Wells Fargo Retirement City Game Map

Merrill Edge Unveils New Digital Advice Offering

The firm launched a Guided Investing platform offering clients a diversified portfolio consisting of ETFs, which will be rebalanced and managed by Merrill Lynch portfolio managers. The firm charges an annual fee of 45 basis points for this service.

Merrill Edge Public Site Homepage Banner

Firms Get Ready for Tax Season

Three firms—Charles Schwab, TIAA and Vanguard—added public and private site pages, banners and notifications alerting customers of the approaching tax season. The most common alerting method was private site homepage notifications, used by eight firms: Capital One Investing, Discover, E*TRADE, Merrill Edge, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, OppenheimerFunds, RBC Wealth Management and T. Rowe Price. TD Ameritrade and Merrill Edge both added private site tax center notifications.