Retirement Outlook? Bad. Can the Web Help?
New Research Identifies Which Retirement Firm Web Sites Are Making Retirement
Planning and Saving Easier.
Most Americans are woefully behind on their retirement savings. In theory, the
web should offer some hope. The web should allow people to become better
informed about retirement planning. The web should make it easy to get started
with the right kind of retirement account, thus making saving easier.
Unfortunately, the web sites of most firms offering retirement solutions make
learning about retirement options much harder than it needs to be.
According to new research released today by Change Sciences Group, more than 50%
of sites offering retirement solutions make it hard to find the retirement
section of the site, let alone make use of it. For people that make it to the
retirement section of the site, about half of the sites do not provide the most
basic information about retirement fundamentals, such as finding clear, easy to
read definitions of account types, or getting a clear definition of "tax
What about Full Service?
Most full service brokerages, while sometimes providing helpful content, make it
extremely difficult to set up an account, forcing people who may just want to
roll over funds to request a printed form, fill it out and fax it back. Most
banks don't do much better.
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"Most sites are either cluttered up with too much content that's not written for
the web, or too Spartan to be of any use," said Steve Ellis, a Change Sciences
partner. "For brokerages, full service or discount, not having a meaningful
retirement web strategy simply turns away a wide range of prospects."
There are some bright spots. A handful of sites have taken significant steps
toward making their retirement sites easy to use and informative. The best site
is more than three and a half times better than the worse site, and more than
two times better than the average site. The three best retirement sites overall
2. Wells Fargo
3. TD Ameritrade
Other sites covered in the report include: A.G. Edwards, AIG SunAmerica, AIG
VALIC, American Century, Ameriprise, AXA Advisors, Bank of America, Charles
Schwab, Chase, Citibank, E*Trade, Edward Jones, Fidelity, Key Bank, Marshall &
Ilsley, Merrill Lynch, MetLife, Morgan Stanley, National City, Piper Jaffray,
PNC Investments, Prudential, Scottrade, Smith Barney, SunTrust, T. Rowe Price,
TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF, US Bank, Vanguard, Wachovia, WaMu Financial,
Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo Advantage Funds, and Wells Fargo.