Fidelity Investments regained its rating as best corporate life insurance and annuity Web site for consumers in the second quarter, while Lincoln Life moved back into first place among sites for financial professionals, according to the latest rankings by Dalbar Inc., Boston.
Dalbar, a financial research and consulting firm, rates more than 200 financial Web sites each quarter on such features as access to account information, ease of use, up-to-date content and consistency of appearance.
Among consumer-oriented sites, both Fidelity and Lincoln Life edged out New York Life Insurance Company, which had held first place in the category since the fourth quarter of 2004.
Fidelity regained first place in part by allowing investors to sign up for e-mail updates and reset forgotten passwords quickly, according to Chris Ross, a senior analyst for Dalbar. It also fixed a technical glitch in navigating the site, he notes.
Western and Southern Life Assurance Company rose 10 spots to fifth place by adding e-mail confirmation of client requests, providing paperwork prefilled with the client’s information and other enhancements, Dalbar says.
AIG-Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company rose seven places to sixth by making it easier for consumers to find advisors and to review or cancel new transactions.
Dalbar analysts noted life and annuity carriers in general were offering new planning tools on their consumer sites, often tailored to distinct markets.
For instance, MetLife Inc. offered a calculator designed to help parents of special-needs children develop a financial plan to meet their children’s medical, educational and other expenses.
In the same vein, OneAmerica developed a “socially conscious investment plan” that allows clients to tailor investments to personal beliefs, such as opposition to smoking or gambling.
Another common change Dalbar found among consumer sites was improved retirement planning assistance. Examples include:
o ING’s Income Wizard, which shows the effects on retirement of increasing savings, working longer and achieving higher or lower investment returns.
o Prudential Financial’s Signature Online, an educational center that contains articles, retirement calculators and other resources.