Adviser-Focused Web Sites Improving

Despite a lack of major upgrades to adviser-oriented Web sites, a recent report found overall improvements to online tools regarding annuities offered by financial services firms.  

The Web site audit was compiled into a report by Corporate Insight called the “Annuity Monitor.” The audit scored Web sites in six fields (with the level of improvement represented as an average percentage increase from the 2010 to 2011 audit):

  • Adviser sales resources, 18%
  • Adviser product information & marketing, 13%
  • Adviser services, 6%
  • Adviser Web site design & usability, 4%
  • Adviser sales tools, 3%
  • Adviser literature order system, 0%

Adviser sales resources had the highest level of improvement, 18%, going from 2.54 to 2.72 on a scale of 4. The firms performed well overall in this category, with seven firms scoring a 3 or better and only two firms receiving a score below 2.20. Corporate Insight was not surprised by the high marks in this category as many firms have been diligent in updating their online marketing materials and product literature libraries to stay ahead of the competition.

Adviser product information & marketing was the strongest category for the Annuity Monitor firms in both the 2008 and 2010 audits. The industry average of 2.88 marks a significant increase from 2010 and shows a continued effort on the part of the firms to improve their offerings. The top six firms all graded at a 3.1 or above and only one firm fell below a 2.2. The greatest improvements have come in annuity product information detail and the creativity of marketing. Firms have improved their online fee transparency and introduced sales campaign themes backed by engaging and informative site-lets, the report said.

Adviser literature order systems were once again only offered by 10 of the 15 Annuity Monitor firms, resulting in a report-low industry average of 1.76. Only three firms received scores of 3.0 or above, while the remaining firms fell between 1.72 and 2.72. There was little activity from the firms in this category over the last year.

The Annuity Monitor audit, started in 2004, has become a tool for firms to see where their key competitive strengths and weaknesses lie and understand ways in which they can improve their customer Web sites. The firms that were included in the audit were: Sun Life Financial, ING, AXA Equitable, MassMutual Financial Group, Jackson, Allianz, MetLife, New York Life, Nationwide, The Hartford, John Hancock, Pacific Life, Prudential, TransAmerica, and Lincoln Financial Group.