NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Corporate Insight, the leading provider of competitive intelligence and user experience research to the financial services industry, announced today the release of its annual Monitor Awards from 2015, including major trends from the year in online and mobile innovation. For more than 15 years, Corporate Insight has presented its annual Gold, Silver and Bronze awards to recognize the most innovative and valuable digital offerings in the annuity, banking, brokerage, credit card, insurance, retirement and asset management industry segments.
"The year 2015 saw many great enhancements and additions to the digital offerings of the firms across all of our coverage groups," said Dana Peterson, Vice President of Monitor Services. "Corporate Insight's Monitor Awards are intended not only to recognize these companies for the top-notch experience they provide to their prospects, clients and advisors, but to identify the major industry trends and changes in the competitive landscape, with the hope of fostering continued innovation."
Corporate Insight's Monitor Services teams use rigorous grading criteria to review key online tools and resources offered by more than 100 firms in 12 different financial verticals. The Monitor Awards reports highlight the best resources and features that lead the online user experience. Areas with the most significant improvements over the last year include: public and private website revamps and redesigns, featuring a variety of microsites and a continued proliferation of cross-platform responsive design; a myriad of innovative online tools and calculators, with a strong focus on retirement and college savings; enhanced mobile technology, including the adoption of touch ID and an explosion of mobile payment platforms; and the growth of robo-advising platforms. For more, see "A Look Back at 2015: Summary of Key Trends" below.
2015 Gold Monitor Award Winners
Gold Monitor Awards are presented for online features that exceed Corporate Insight's criteria for overall excellence and usability. In 2015, 36 companies received Gold Monitor Awards across nine industry verticals. Here are the companies awarded the most in their respective industries:
- Advisor Monitor Awards
- Annuity Monitor Awards
- Bank Monitor Awards
- Credit Card Monitor Awards
- e-Monitor Awards (Online Brokerage)
- Life Insurance Monitor Awards
- Mutual Fund Monitor Awards
- Property & Casualty Monitor Awards
- Retirement Plan Monitor Awards
A Look Back at 2015: Summary of Key Trends
As part of its Monitor research services, Corporate Insight analysts use live accounts at each financial institution covered, identifying customer-centric improvements and trends as they occur in real time. The Monitor Awards are a culmination of a year's worth of website tracking and user experience assessment. The following is a summary of the most notable trends from 2015.
Website Revamps & Design Changes; Continued Proliferation of Responsive Design
Continuing the trend from the last few years, financial firms in every industry redesigned or entirely revamped their public and private websites, with many prioritizing improved site navigation and integrating responsive design to enhance the experience across devices. For example, 27 percent of Annuity Monitor firms unveiled new public sites, and 74 percent now offer mobile- and tablet-optimized public sites.
Firms also continued to use microsites to host educational resources, and promote products and investment strategies outside of their main sites. Fidelity unveiled its highly interactive, Every Someday Needs a Plan microsite, which provides retirement resources to investors and retirees while promoting its retirement services. Hartford Funds released a Human-Centric Investing microsite that promotes the firm's client relationships and investor-focused research, addressing the rise of robo-advisors.
Tools and Calculators, with a Strong Focus on Retirement and College Savings
Overall, firms introduced more new or enhanced tools in 2015 than in 2014. As an example, Retirement Plan Monitor's coverage group of 19 firms introduced 15 new retirement-focused tools or calculators, of which MassMutual contributed seven.
In the Mutual Fund Monitor coverage group, there was a strong focus on saving for college, with both American Funds and Franklin Templeton introducing college-planning calculators, enabling investors to create a detailed report of projected college costs and anticipated savings required to meet those needs. Putnam introduced a simple College Savings Options filtering tool that allows prospects to narrow down which of the firm's investing vehicles is right for them.
Mobile Technology and Enhanced Capabilities; Explosion of Mobile Payment Platforms
As the customer experience continues to move toward mobile devices and on-the-go service, firms added unique features to their mobile apps in 2015, with one of the major advances in technology being the addition of Touch ID login capabilities for apps. Property & Casualty Monitor, for example, reported seven firms incorporating this technology: Esurance, MetLife, Farmers, State Farm, GEICO, USAA and Liberty Mutual.
Online and mobile payments also remained an important focus for many financial firms in 2015. The second half of the year saw an influx of mobile payment technologies from Android, Samsung and Chase Bank, following the successful Apple Pay launch in 2014. Eight of the 11 Credit Card Monitor firms launched Android Pay, while six firms incorporated Samsung Pay. Most firms added public site pages highlighting the features of the new payment methods. U.S. Bank and Chase even created digital wallet microsites, organizing all compatible digital payment technology pages together.
Growth of Robo-Advising Platforms
Another notable trend of 2015 was the rapid growth of automated or semi-automated investment platforms – also known as robo-advisors – in the brokerage space. Two firms in the e-Monitor coverage group – Charles Schwab and Vanguard – launched their own robo-advisors – Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. Fidelity announced plans that it has its own robo-advisor in the works, Fidelity Go, and Corporate Insight expects more firms to follow suit in 2016. Read more on our digital advice research.
"Corporate Insight's Monitor Awards reports offer an objective, detailed look at best-in-class digital experiences provided by leading financial firms and insurers," said Michael Ellison, president of Corporate Insight. "Our research equips firms with actionable intelligence, empowering them to continuously innovate and improve the online and mobile offerings for their customers."
Additional information on Corporate Insight's Monitor Awards is available at:
About Corporate Insight
Corporate Insight provides competitive intelligence, consulting and user experience research to the nation's leading financial institutions and insurers. For more than two decades, the firm has tracked technological developments in the end-user online experience, identifying best practices in online banking and investing, mobile finance, social media and other emerging areas. Beginning with its work in the brokerage industry, Corporate Insight now offers subscription-based Monitor services in 14 different areas, including banking, healthcare and alumni relations. The firm helps its clients – including 70% of the financial services firms in the Fortune 500 – to remain at the forefront of industry trends and improve their competitive position.
SOURCE Corporate Insight