Tuesday Tips – Five Ways Fund Firms Can Improve Their Online Tax Centers

by on Apr 02, 2013

Tuesday TipsTuesday Tips helps financial services firms improve a key aspect of their online user experience. Recommendations are taken directly from our Monitor Reports and Consulting Services research, which cover banking, brokerage, credit cards, asset management, retirement, annuities and insurance.

As tax day approaches, many investors are feeling stressed as they attempt to locate the proper forms and statements for their filings. Asset management companies can help alleviate their worries by providing online resources that clearly organize documents and explain tax concepts to investors. The following five tips from our latest Mutual Fund Monitor report focus on ways fund firms can optimize their online tax centers:

#1 Include Images of Tax Forms to Call Out Key Figures – Investors may receive an array of tax forms and statements, each containing a great deal of information on income and earnings. To help alleviate any confusion about which information to report, firms can offer images of tax forms with explanations of where to find important figures. For example, Dreyfus provides images of tax forms, calling out individual pieces of information with letters that correspond to explanations on the page.

Dreyfus Tax Form Images
Dreyfus includes images of tax forms in their tax center.

#2 Include Materials as HTML Pages When Possible – Firms frequently provide tax materials as both integrated HTML pages and PDF guides. While PDF certainly has its place, such as when information is regulated to be displayed in a particular way, it is best to provide pages as HTML whenever possible. This allows increased functionality and the ability to include site navigation controls to users. Additionally, some users may feel confused when navigating to an unlabeled PDF.

#3 Offer Explanations of Tax Issues that Go Beyond Reporting Required Figures – Top asset management companies add value by providing discussions of key tax concepts for investors. These include ways to lessen the impact of taxes on earnings and explanations of key tax concepts, such as the benefits of municipal bond investing. Many firms take advantage of the increased visibility of these topics around tax season to promote commentary and educational resources.

#4 Provide Explanations of How to Import Materials into Tax Software – Software programs that help investors do their taxes have been commonplace for some time. To assist investors in using these programs, many firms offer advice on how to import relevant account information as well as discounts for these services. Such discounts and advice serve as a way to help clients during the stressful tax season.

#5 Promote Resources Prominently – A firm can offer impeccable resources, but if investors cannot locate these materials, they are unlikely to be helpful. Top asset management firms promote their tax resources prominently. Common methods of advertising materials include the use of homepage promotions and images throughout the site.