Tuesday Tips – Five Ways Firms Can Bolster Online Client Tax Resources

by on Mar 27, 2012

altEvery Tuesday, Corporate Insight releases recommendations to help financial services firms improve a key aspect of the online user experience. Recommendations are taken directly from our Monitor Reports and Consulting Services research, which cover the banking, brokerage, credit card, asset management and insurance industries.

This week’s recommendations come from our Mutual Fund Monitor report titled Private Site Tax Resources: Walking Clients Through Tax Season and focus on ways financial institutions can make tax season a little less stressful for clients by offering robust online client tax resources:

1. Archive Tax Documents – We believe firms are better safe than sorry when it comes to archiving customers’ tax documents online. Most clients will not consider the importance of such an archive until they desperately need it – due, for instance, to an IRS audit or a filing error – and it is in inconvenient times such as these that firms do not want to make their clients’ lives more stressful.

2. Offer a Schedule of Receive-By Dates – When it comes to taxes, it pays to be prepared, and if clients know what forms to expect and when, they can be more properly organized before April arrives. Currently, 24% of firms link to receive-by schedules, leaving their clients prepared for what to expect in the mail. Although many firms include such schedules in their public site tax centers, only four firms linked to these on the private site.

3. Promote Discounts and Deposits – If a firm has a discount deal set up with a tax software company like TurboTax, the first people who should see such an offer should be clients. Placing a TurboTax ad on a private site landing page then, like Invesco or T. Rowe Price, makes good business sense, because current clients logged in to their account would be more likely to use such an offer, when compared to public site visitors who may not even be registered at the firm. Similarly, promoting direct deposit of tax refunds is a valuable opportunity for fund firms, because although the refund is conducted through the IRS and does not directly involve the firm, it is in fact the firm’s goal to get clients to take their direct deposit right into their mutual fund account.

4. Enhance Convenience with Tax Summaries – For quick reference, 29% of firms provide tax summaries, offering quick synopses of the key points of their tax forms. Clients are able to quickly ascertain figures such as foreign paid tax, qualified dividends or capital gains distributions. For example, Fidelity and Vanguard allow customers to download either the full tax documents in PDF, or browse detailed tax summaries on HTML pages.
                                      
5. Offer e-Delivery Notification – In order to make customers immediately aware of their available online tax documents, firms should allow clients to enroll in e-Delivery, as 41% of firms in this report currently do. Although actual tax documents are not emailed for security reasons, a quick notification from the firm that their tax PDFs are now on the private site can be a convenient reminder to make the filing process more efficient.

For more information on our Monitor or Consulting services, contact Bob Burlin at 212-832-2002 x-115 or rburlin@corporateinsight.com. You can also use our online contact form.