The big news for September revolves around Roth conversions. In the advisor realm, there was an influx of promotions surrounding the 2010 Roth conversion opportunity. A number of firms in our coverage groups are now supplying their advisors and brokers with new online marketing materials to help get ahead of the competition.
Pacific Life, John Hancock and Charles Schwab were some of the first firms to post new advisor pages and resources concerning Roth conversions. Pacific Life added a new page to its advisor Resource Center that focuses exclusively on the conversion, while John Hancock released several new Roth IRA sales brochures. A new Roth IRA Conversion page was added to the Retirement Planning section of Charles Schwab’s public and private sites. While most of the new pages and materials relating to the conversion have been advisor-focused, Charles Schwab is providing both clients and public users with a list of FAQs and pros and cons of converting.
Changes to Overdraft Fees
Tired of being hit with a fixed fee or charge as the result of overdrawing one’s account? Three firms have announced plans to waive certain overdraft charges. Bank of America will no longer charge overdraft fees if a customer account is overdrawn $10 or less, while Chase and Wells Fargo have waived the fee on overdrafts of $5 or less. All three firms publicly announced the new overdraft policies around the same time this month; however Bank of America was the only firm to state exactly when the changes will be implemented.
The BluePrint for Credit Card Management
This month, Chase unveiled BluePrint, a new financial tool that helps card holders manage their accounts. The features of the tool enable customers to select specific purchases that they’d like to pay for, split large purchases into smaller ones, customize payment plans to pay off their balance and create a budget to track expenses. The tool is free for Freedom, Sapphire and Slate cardholders. Interestingly, the BluePrint program demands accountability from its users; if customers are unable to make three successive payments within a six-month period or make 50% of their payments for three consecutive months, the plan is automatically removed by the firm. While other firms offer budgeting tools, the BluePrint is unique in that it allows customers to consolidate credit card payments as well.
In Other News:
• Tracking Transaction Disputes – Discover added a new My Disputes overview page that allows customers to track the status of their transaction disputes online. Surprisingly, American Express is the only other card issuer we track to offer a similar tool.
• Text Me Something Good – MassMutual recently introduce Good Decision of the Day, a text message-based service that provides financial tips to users. The financial tips are updated daily, and are also displayed on the MassMutual public site.