|No Tricks this Halloween: Financial Service Firms Treat Clients to New Features, Products and Revamped Websites|
|Written by Drew Maresca|
|Thursday, 10 November 2011 10:06|
In October, financial service firms introduced new bill pay options, providing clients with additional conveniences. A number of firms also chose to unveil new sites, primarily public, offering users more efficient navigation and streamlining access to important pages. Firms also continued to add or enhance products, making product lineups more competitive.
Let’s Pay Some Bills
TD Ameritrade’s brokerage site introduced a free online bill pay system, allowing clients to set up recurring or one-time payments, organize payees, access up to one year of bill pay records and receive email alerts. Similarly, Fifth Third and KeyBank unveiled new online bill payment, Metavante (FIS) interfaces, both of which simplify the process of executing a bill-payment related task. Additionally, Wells Fargo’s banking site updated its bill pay system, allows users to more easily add a payee by consolidating steps.
CitiBank was busy this month, releasing a new public banking site equipped with an improved design that includes a new, bolder color scheme and an improved navigational menu. The firm also updated its credit card site with a rearranged navigational menu that employs flyout menus and a subtle change to the site’s color scheme. Discover revamped its public site, implementing an updated navigational menu that features new flyout menus and a new layout. RBC also unveiled a new public site for the first time since 2005, which features a new design, original content and an updated color scheme. Charles Schwab also redesigned its public site, employing an improved navigational menu, as did KeyBank. Furthermore, Fidelity updated its annuity pages, which now feature a more concise layout and user-friendly options; iShares redesigned its advisor homepage, incorporating a rotating image display; and Lord Abbett unveiled a new literature section for advisors that greatly improves usability thanks to new menus and search features.
Firms Enhance Offerings
A number of firms amended existing products, many of which were made to appear more desirable to clients. AXA-Equitable improved its flagship Accumulator Series variable annuity product to feature a 5.5% compounded deferral bonus roll-up rate on benefit base to age 85. Previously, the deferral bonus rate was 5% until age 80. U.S. Bank released three rebranded credit cards after removing them from its site just last month. The cards – 1-2-3 Rewards Visa Card, Fred Meyer Rewards Visa Card and Ralph Rewards plus Visa Card– were reintroduced under the Visa network after previously being branded with MasterCard insignia. Three other credit card firms unveiled product enhancements: Bank of America, Chase and CitiCards. The firms all updated card options – introducing new Intro APRs, Earnings Structure or Standard Purchase rate – for five, three and eight cards, respectively. Many of the card enhancements have positive implications for clients; for example, the Chase Sapphire Card now offers double rewards points on dining. Additionally, Morgan Stanley unveiled a new product altogether, offering direct access to precious metals through its investor site.
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