New Products and Related Pages from Seven Firms – This month, seven firms launched new products, including one checking account, one CD, one credit card, two life insurance products and two digital advice platforms. Fifth Third introduced a checking account affiliated with the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) program, and Ally Bank announced its new 13-Month Select CD with a standalone public site page. Discover added Synchrony’s Car Care credit card to its network. Charles Schwab debuted its new hybrid digital advice platform, Schwab Intelligent Advisory, and added corresponding public and private site pages. John Hancock launched an Unemployment Protection rider, and Pacific Life released a new Pacific Discovery Xelerator IUL product. T. Rowe Price’s new ActivePlus Portfolios program recommends model portfolios based on prospective clients’ investing and risk profiles.
Fee Changes and Fed Rate Commentary from 27 Firms – March saw a Fed rate hike and a pricing war, resulting in 19 firms changing their fees. Ten firms increased prime lending rates from 3.75% to 4.00%: Citibank, BB&T, Citizens, KeyBank, PNC Bank, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase. Nine of these published press releases announcing the change, while Chase tweeted the news. American Express, PNC Bank and U.S. Bank increased APRs for purchases and balance transfers due to the rate increase. Firms across multiple coverage groups addressed the Fed hike through press releases, social media and commentary articles: E*TRADE, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Merrill Edge, Dreyfus, Legg Mason, MFS, Putnam, Allianz, Lord Abbett, PIMCO, Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo. In the brokerage space, Fidelity countered Schwab’s February price cut by reducing its base commission rate from $7.95 to $4.95 and option pricing from $0.75 to $0.65 per contract. TD Ameritrade, optionsXpress, Schwab and E*TRADE followed suit within the month. Schwab dropped equity and ETF fees from $6.95 to $4.95 and per-contract option fees from $0.70 to $0.65 to match Fidelity. TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE each reduced commissions from $9.99 to $6.95 and per-contract option fees to $0.75. A new E*TRADE program also provides investors with a minimum of 30 trades per quarter with a special rate of $4.95 per trade and $0.50 per options contract. Later in the month, optionsXpress reduced fees to match those of Charles Schwab. Capital One Investing increased margin rates.
Citizens Bank Revamps Homepage Design, Consolidates Content
The updated site includes a cohesive, responsive layout incorporating the firm’s green and white color scheme. The redesign maintains the previous main navigation, apart from consolidated tabs for previously separated links. A new Banking and Credit Cards overview page links to account type overview pages for deposit and card products. Additionally, the firm condensed multiple service pages into a new Online and Mobile Banking page that outlines digital banking features and provides a link to FAQs. Another new page, Apply Pay, details the service and its setup.
Updated Citizens Bank Public Site Homepage
Brighthouse Financial Solidifies Internet Presence with New Public Site
Following its separation from MetLife, Brighthouse Financial unveiled its responsive public platform, which offers a new product selection tool. A progress meter at the top of each screen adjusts as prospective clients scroll through the pages, and the site organizes financial planning, life insurance and annuities benefits into Products, Education and Support pages.
New Brighthouse Financial Public Site Homepage
Allstate Adds Amazon Alexa Skill
The new capability allows users to inquire about policies and agents through Amazon devices, including those with voice recognition technology.
New Allstate Amazon Alexa Home Screen and Agent Locator Pop-Up