What product line presents the greatest cross selling opportunity for banks?

In a recent poll posted by the BAI Community, members were asked, “What area presents the greatest cross selling opportunity for banks?” I answered by selecting “retirement”.  And I wasn’t the only one.  The percentage was heavily weighed towards retirement.  Another poll asked if retirement products were a priority moving forward.  As of today, fifty percent said “yes, definitely a priority” while the other fifty said, “yes, but other products take precedence”.

So it’s clear that banks see an opportunity with respect to retirement.  And they’re not the only ones.  In 2007, a study was released by the BAI and Mercatus LLC done in conjunction with Deluxe of 2,977 mass affluent US consumers (35-75 years of age with $50,0000-$2 million in investable assets).  It was conducted to help banks figure out the best way to compete for retirement assets.  The study grouped people into attitudinal segments to identify which segments are most likely to deal with a bank for their retirement savings.  According to the study, “mass affluent consumers who are generally less confident about retirement, and who are worried they lack sufficient assets to retire, are the most receptive to bank messages.”  The study also indicated that this group was relatively large “representing 69% of the mass affluent investable assets exceeding $370,000.”

So what does it take to win over retirement assets?  I direct your intention to one of the leading institutions with respect to retirement assets, Fidelity.  Recently, they developed a new website.  It’s currently active but they haven’t made it their official home page.  You can visit the site here: https://www.fidelity.com/pf/destination/retail.jhtml

After playing around with the new site, you’ll notice one thing.  Its focus is not on their individual products. The front of the page showcases an article written by a member of their “Fidelty Interactive Content Services” team.  The content is generally unbiased.  The only thing they point to that has Fidelity’s name on it are their various online services such as calculators and their own money manager, “Fidelity Full View”.  The latter is similar to sites like mint.com or Yodlee.  There are several outside articles from places like CNNmoney.com, the Wall Street Journal and Smartmoney.com.

The focus here is clearly content.  Giving visitors as much helpful content as they can possibly muster without making it too overwhelming.  They strategically steer you to their tools.  In order to use these tools like the “Retirement Quick Check”, you must be a Fidelity member.  Members, just like customers, can access these tools at any time.  Members will also be informed of special offers.  To become a member, all you have to do is provide your name and email address.  Those who sign up are clearly interested in saving and investing for retirement.  Does this mean that everyone who signs up will become a Fidelity customer.  Not necessarily.  They may be in it for the free content and tools.  But there’s no question this will help Fidelity win new retirement accounts. Check also what’s new from Goodwin Barrett as they’ve helped thousands of people win compensation as a result of unsuitable financial advice.

Banks can learn a few things from what Fidelity has done here.  Instead of using your website as a billboard for your products, make it a hub of helpful information and tools.  Banks are making headway with respect to tools but I would argue that many sites have a long way to go with their content.  Even those who have good content haven’t necessarily figured out how to use it to drive sales.