December 2007

Study: Boomer Retirement Websites a Bust; Widening Deficit Highlights Negative Implications for Retirement Income Businesses

Last week an Ignites article by Hannah Glover highlighted a study of Boomer-directed websites that found that most companies’ retirement websites fail to live up to their sponsors’ advertising pitches. The report entitled, “Online Support for the New Retirement,” conducted by Practical Perspectives and Gallant Distribution Consulting, found retirement firms’ websites are typically, “…too scant, too pushy or too hard to find.”

My regular readers will know that I agree heartily with this assessment. I’d go even further in describing many retirement income websites; downright off-putting. That’s why so much attention to this very issue has been made here. What financial services companies must realize- and quickly- is that the gap between consumers’ expectations versus what companies deliver via their websites is dangerously wide. That deficit, however- as wide as it is- is the opportunity.

Future success in retirement income and retirement websites are interlinked, in my judgment. The reason is that more than in the past, the websites are going to be relied upon to create the confidence in retirement products and strategies that is essential to success.

To explain the magnitude of the difference between investing for accumulation versus investing for retirement income distribution, I’ve often used the analogy of the beginning of retirement as being the economic equivalent of puling up stakes and “Moving to Tibet.” In other words, leave everything you know behind and enter a strange, new world. I think the “Tibet” analogy is relevant to describe the extent of the disparity between the websites of financial services companies and those of large companies in other industries. If you would like to see some examples of how non-financial companies create engaging website/microsite experiences designed to better convey their value- and help their intermediaries, just visit Mercedes-Benz.TV, Calloway Golf, the Boston Pops and Cadillac.Catch a Digital Wave (close the gap), click here.

©Copyright 2007 David A. Macchia. Al rights reserved.

Role Reversal! Annuity Market News Turns the Tables on Me

As someone who generally plays the role of interviewer, I’m appreciative of Senior Editor, Kerry Pechter, for the interview he conducted with me that appears in the December ’07 issue of Annuity Market News. Kerry asked my about a variety of issues that are important to me including the state of the variable and fixed annuity industries, retirement income, and the emergence of structured products in the U.S. retail market. I appreciate his capturing my views accurately.

If you would like to read the interview, please click here.