Vanguard DA - Financial Companies 2

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Part
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Fidelity - Robo Advisor Offerings

Research shows that Fidelity promoted and actively promotes its Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor only on its website. While there is no information on how much it spent in promoting this offering, the product/offering has won different awards/recognition from popular brands, such as Investopedia. Below, is an overview of the findings.

Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor: Website Messaging

  • Fidelity chiefly promotes its Fidelity Go offering through its website pages. It also has a dedicated webpage where more information is provided.
  • Fidelity positions/promotes this offering as a product that provides an easy, convenient, simple, and affordable way "to enjoy the benefits of professional money management."
  • The advertising message is "Let our robo advisor do the investing for you."
  • According to Fidelity, professional money management, 24/7 access to accounts, and free registration of accounts are reasons customers should try out Fidelity Go.
  • On its Fidelity Go webpage, there is a short video clip that illustrates the value proposition of the offering and how easy and simple the offering works.
  • Since Fidelity still curates a webpage where it advertises its Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor, likely, it is still actively promoting the offering.

Success Metrics

Research Strategy

To identify and provide information surrounding how Fidelity promoted its Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor offering, we searched across potential ads resources and channels. These include advertising databases, such as Moat and iSpot.tv that respectively provide the digital ads and TV commercials of various brands. However, while these resources provide valuable insights into Fidelity's digital ads and TV commercials, none of them were on its Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor.

We continued the research by looking into media publications and industry reports, such as MediaRadar, to identify any campaign or public events it has organized to promote its Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor offering, including if it has publicized any form of discount offerings. However, no media publication provides information around any promotional campaign of Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor. Also, while Media Radar offers useful information, such as Fidelity's estimated ads spend and general strategy, there was no detail provided for its Go Robo-Advisor offering.

Next, we looked into its social media pages — Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — to check if it has promoted or advertised its Go Robo-Advisor offering but found nothing. Useful information was only found on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, where it advertises its Hybrid Robo Advisor and Fidelity Go IRA, respectively — but not Fidelity Go Robo-Advisor. Hence, we resorted into leveraging the information on its website (website messaging), as the only channel it has used to promote its Robo-Advisor offering.

Lastly, to identify how much it spent in promoting Fidelity Go, we searched the company's media releases and available financial reports/statistics but found no information on how much it, as the company doesn't publish its annual reports publicly. Moreover, there was no information on its general marketing and/or advertising expenditure. We could identify its executives, such as Abigail Johnson (CEO) and Gerard McGraw (CFO), however, we searched to see if they've revealed how much Fidelity spent in promoting Fidelity Go but found no information.
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Part
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Charles Schwab - Robo Advisor Offerings

Charles Schwab's marketing strategy focuses on creative brand storytelling using videos via its website's contents page, YouTube channel, and a dedicated website for brand stories dubbed ownyourtomorrow.com. The company uses multiple marketing channels, including website messaging, owned channels, press releases, etc.

Charles Schwab Robo-advisor Promotion

  • Charles Schwab promoted its robo-advisor using multiple channels, including its website, where it features a video explaining how the robo-advisor works.
  • On its website, it is also presented as Kiplinger's 2019 best online brokers' robo-advisory software. It also features promotional messaging on its website.
  • During its launch in 2015, Schwab launched a nationwide campaign, including online, print and television advertisements.
  • Schwab's promotional contents include information specific to how the service works, and featured, "Blue, the personality behind the robo-advisor.
  • Historical contents on the company's social media pages, specifically Facebook and Twitter, suggest that the company also used owned channels to promote the robo-advisor.

Results of the Offering

  • As of Q4 2019, Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® robo-advisor had over $43 billion in assets under management (AUM).
  • In comparison, the robo-advisor's AUM is more than the combined AUMs of the two most considerable venture capital-backed robo-advisors, i.e., Betterment with $18 billion and Wealthfront with $10 billion.
  • Despite being pricey for small investors, Investorjunkie asserts that Schwab's robo-advisor "looks to be one of the best overall robo-advisors available." The robo-advisor also comes with no fees.

Marketing and Promotion Analysis

Research Methodology

In-depth analyses of Charles Schwab's website, its social media pages, and affiliated marketing websites have provided comprehensive details describing the company's marketing and advertising strategy regarding its Intelligent Portfolio robo-advisor offering. However, we did not find any information in public about how much the company is spending on marketing its intelligent robo-advisor. Extensive searches throughout the website and its financial records did not feature any meaningful findings specific to the marketing spend for the robo-advisor. Continued searches through market research and business websites like Business Insider and PR Newswire also did not feature data regarding the marketing spend. Further examination of the company's director of marketing interviews on news outlets and YouTube also did not disclose any details regarding Schwab's advertising spend on its intelligent robo-advisor. In this regard, we concluded that information specific to the marketing spend on its intelligent robo-advisor is currently unavailable in public.
Part
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Part
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Vanguard - Robo Advisor Offerings

Vanguard has promoted its Personal Advisor Services Robo-Advisor offerings through a mix of website messaging, PR and mentions on industry thought leaders’ websites. Research was unable to pinpoint how much it spent in promoting this offering, but it has been praised as revolutionary and amongst the most affordable offers in the market. Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services was recognized by MorningStar as the Brand of the Year 2019 in Digital Investing and also garnering two awards for the Most Trusted/ Most Loved Brand and Brand of the Year in the Digital Investing category by the Harris Poll EquiTrend Equity Score 2019.

Website Messaging

  • Vanguard mainly promotes its Robo Advisor offering through its website. It also has a dedicated web page where more precise information is available.
  • Vanguard posits this product as a true partnership between its customers and Robo Advisor, in a promise to work closely with Vanguard clients to help them achieve their financial goals.
  • The overarching advertising message is that Vanguard Personal Advisor Services will provide the most trusted information to help their clients.
  • Vanguard’s unique selling proposition is that their advisors are not commission-driven, thus have no incentive to push certain products for their selfish ambitions. Rather, the Personal Advisor Services Robo Advisor will help their clients create goal-driven financial plans that are low-funded and that employ tried and tested strategies unique to Vanguard.
  • On its web page, there is a short caricatured video clip illustrating how the offering works and the benefits the service accords its customers.
  • Since Vanguard still curates a web page where it advertises its Personal Advisor Robo-Advisor, it is still likely actively promoting this offering.

PR

  • Vanguard’s CEO, Tim Buckley, is interviewed by Financial Times, where he talks about Vanguard’s impressive growth and size, as well as the Robo Advisor services that were rolled out in September 2019.
  • In both interviews, Vanguard’s entrance into the Robo Advisory is feted as a game changer in the industry, already bolstering Vanguard’s market size that is capped at $6 trillion, with Personal Advisor Services already controlling $182 billion of that fund.
  • Vanguard launched its Personal Advisor Services Hybrid Robo-Human Advisor offering in September 2019. Since LA Times and Financial Times both published their articles in January 2020, it is safe to assume that Vanguard is still actively promoting this offering through solicited PR.

Industry Thought Leaders

  • Vanguard’s foray into Robo Advisory has been applauded by many industry leaders in finance. Wall Street Journal proceeded to illustrate how the service will work while predicting an increase in competition in the Robo Advisory market.
  • Vanguard launched its Personal Advisor Services Hybrid Robo-Human Advisor offering in September 2019. Of the three sources, only RoboAdvisersPro was published in January 2020. Thus, it is can be assumed that Vanguard is still actively promoting this offering through RoboAdvisersPro.

Success Metrics

  • Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services was awarded the Brand of the Year in the Digital Investing by MorningStar.
  • Vanguard also garnered two awards for the Most Trusted/ Most Loved Brand and Brand of the Year in the Digital Investing category from the Harris Poll EquiTrend Equity Score 2019.

Research Strategy

To identify and provide information surrounding how Vanguard promoted its Personal Advisor Services Hybrid Robo-Advisor offering, we searched across potential ads resources and channels. These include advertising databases such as Ads of the World and Moat that boast to have one of the world’s largest repository of digital ads. The search proved futile as it did not bring forth any ads ran to promote Vanguard Personal Advisor Robo-Advisory Services.
Your research team continued the search by looking into media publications and industry reports, from sources such as MediaRadar, to identify any campaign or public events used to promote its Robo-Advisor offering, including if it has publicized any form of discount offerings. No media publication provides any information around any promotional campaign specific to Vanguard Personal Advisor Robo-Advisor offering. Also, while Media Radar offers useful information, such as Vanguard's estimated media spend, there was no specific detail provided for its Robo-Advisor offering.
A preliminary search of its social media pages — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube — only yielded vibrant and frequently updated pages, but with no direct advertisement of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Robo- Advisor offering. Facebook’s Ad Library showed that Vanguard has been running paid ads on its platform, but none that touch on its Robo-Advisory services. Based on these findings, your research team determined that the most reliable pointers of Vanguard’s promotion of its Robo-Advisory services were through owned website messaging, PR and industry leaders’ websites/articles.
Finally, in a bid to identify how much Vanguard has spent in promoting its Robo-Advisory services, your research team searched through the company's media releases and available financial reports but found no information on media spends. An interview with high level executives such as Tim Buckley, CEO, and Greg Davis (CIO) did not yield any information on how much Vanguard spent to promote its Personal Advisor Services.
Part
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Part
04

Newer Financial Companies - Positioning Online-First Offering(s)

Wealthfront, Betterment, and iCapital Network positioned their online-first offering from their positions of strength and uniqueness. While they based their target audience on the financial services they render, the information surrounding how they communicate to these consumers is creative.

Wealthfront

  • Wealthfront's online-first offering is an automated wealth advisor, and it positioned itself for this offering by providing investment management, free financial planning, and lending to its consumers from its credit line. This comes on the platform of passive investing, with innovative technology to put consumers' money on rewarding autopilot, while minimizing costs and taxes.
  • The company positioned its online-first offering by providing a competitive interest rate of 2.24% on savings. Outside the interest rate, Wealthfront's online-first offering was as seen an opportunity to save, plan, invest, and borrow all under one umbrella.
  • Wealthfront positioned its online-first offering based on consumers' frustration with the shenanigans of their existing banks. According to the company's founder, consumers were fed up.
  • The company further positioned its online-first offering by allowing consumers the flexibility and freedom to pick investment account types of their choice. These account types come in three categories, namely, for retirement, for education, and everything else.
  • It also positioned its online-first offering by implementing a low-cost charge on investment (0.25% annual advisory fee), promising 1.78% in annual percentage yield, and facilitating FDIC insurance up to $1 million. The offering also comes with unlimited transfers at a zero-cost rate.
  • Wealthfront's target audience tends to be tech-savvy millennials. According to the company's founders, their bet on this target audience is because the latter do not want "human interaction in their banking experience." It is for this reason that they want the company to look more like Netflix.
  • Information surrounding how they are talking to these consumers include philosophical statements from the financial company, such as "investing isn’t an art, it’s a science." They also talk to them on the benefits that come with choosing them. These benefits include minimizing costs, greater risk management, and low tax payments.
  • The company also talks to these consumers by providing them tools to evaluate their finances for free, offering them guidance on early retirement, and planning both short and long term goals for them.
  • Wealthfront further makes use of family and individual stories on their platform to communicate with these audiences.

Betterment

  • Betterment's online-first offering is a smart money manager, and it positioned itself for this offering by providing everyday banking services, together with retirement and core investing solutions. Its retirement plan also comes with the promise of a secure future.
  • The company positioned its online-first offering on the mission "to help people make the most of their money so they can live better lives using cutting-edge technology." Betterment works harder for its consumers and helps them start a college fund, plan for retirement, invest their money, and take care of their other crucial financial matters.
  • It also positioned its online-first offering by providing automated money management tools, personalized, expert advice, and Tax-Smart strategies to minimize tax rates across consumers' accounts. Through its innovative technology, the company empowers money management for its consumers.
  • The financial company also positioned its online-first offering by implementing a low-cost charge on investment (0.25% annual advisory fee) and facilitating exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to align with individuals’ goals.
  • Betterment's target audience tends to be everyone; from young adults to baby boomers. The information surrounding this is credited to its website, which states that "no matter your age or situation, we can help you build a plan for life after work."
  • Information surrounding how they are talking to these consumers include direct statements from the financial company, assuring them that not only can they save with peace of mind, but that with Betterment, they can spend with confidence. Statements, like the above-mentioned, are offshoots from the company's catchphrase — 'smarter is better.'

iCapital Network

  • iCapital’s online-first offering is modular alternative investment solutions, and it positioned itself for this offering by providing by facilitating "access to private investment opportunities through an independent origination and due diligence process that prioritizes quality offerings from an array of managers."
  • The company positioned its online-first offering by using the first-of-its-kind technology solution that completely robotizes the reporting processes, administration, and unique subscription of alternative investments.
  • It further positioned its online-first offering by designing a platform that all industry players cannot continually do without. Realizing its innovative approach could be complex, iCapital offers its clients robust educational support to augment the positioning of its online-first offering.
  • iCapital also positioned its online-first offering by providing its clients with "a curated menu of private equity and hedge funds at lower minimums with a full suite of due diligence and administrative support in a secure digital environment."
  • The financial company further positioned its online-first offering as a differentiator by bringing about a new way it transacts alternative investments with full tech-based solutions for industry participants.
  • iCapital's target audience tends to be high-net-worth individuals, wealth management firms like private banks and wirehouses, asset managers, and financial advisors. The information surrounding this is linked to the company's platform, which helps industry players such as the names provided above.
  • Information surrounding how they are talking to these clients include the offer of a demo from the financial company. iCapital also communicates with these clients by posting relevant content on its blog, reveling in its achievements and recognition, and offering custom and turnkey solutions.
  • The financial company also uses its slogan, "powering the world's alternative marketplace," to communicate its leadership role in the industry to these clients.

Research Strategy

Using the websites of the app-based financial companies and other third-party platforms, we could evaluate how these companies position their online-first offering, who their target audience tends to be, and how they are talking to these consumers. Their online-first offerings were identified from what gave them uniqueness. iCapital is the newest of the three financial companies highlighted. The formed the company in 2013.
Part
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Part
05

App-Based Financial Companies - Positioning Online-First Offering(s)

One common way Acorns, Robinhood, and Stash position their online-first offering as app-based financial companies are by offering low-cost investment to their target audience. Each also has rookie investors in common as their target audience.

Acorns

  • Acorns' online-first offering is automated investing, and it positioned itself for this offering by facilitating low-cost investment portfolios for customers. With as little as $1, anyone can invest with Acorns. It is micro-investing made easy.
  • The company also positioned itself for its online-first offering by reaching out for people's spare change, instead of asking for capital investment. While the company invests such spare change automatically, it allows the customer to learn about the rudiments of sound investing at the same time.
  • Part of its positioning for its online-first offering includes a varying portfolio of ETFs (exchange-traded funds), three different accounts for saving, investment, and retirement, fraud protection (FDIC insurance), no minimum balance fees, free bank-to-bank transfers, and no overdraft fees.
  • Another way Acorns is positioned is its flexibility strategy. For those confused or unsure about investing, the Acorns app made it easy to start one. It also evaluates the customer's lifestyle and budget to advise on the proper investment options for a personalized portfolio.
  • Acorns' target audience tends to be low-income investors, undergraduate and new graduates, and major capital investors. Although the app emphasizes low-cost investment most times, it is suitable for people with some serious capital to invest too. According to Forbes, investing is now possible for every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
  • Information surrounding how they are talking to these consumers include direct statements from the financial company, such as 'invest your spare change,' 'save for later,' and 'grow your knowledge.'
  • The company also talks to these consumers by providing tools to track their past investments, current financial profile, and project their earning potential. It also provides information to them on how the size of their returns can get if they started small and invested long-term.

Robinhood

  • Robinhood's online-first offering is free stock trades, and it positioned itself by implementing options to make customers' monies work harder for them. It built an online trading platform that allows customers to "invest in public companies and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) listed on the US Stock Exchange."
  • This financial company is the pioneer of commission-free investing. It positioned itself by allowing its consumers the opportunity to enjoy freedom from commission fees and bask in limitless commission-free trades in stocks.
  • Robinhood positions its online-first offering as "a direct approach to trading from within a smartphone app."
  • Another way the company positioned itself is via its low-cost investment offer. With as little as $1, customers can invest in many numbers of stocks and can determine how much to invest.
  • The app-based financial company also positioned its online-first offering by promising customers a 1.80% earning in annual percentage yield on their uninvested cash.
  • Leveraging on the legendary origin of its name — Robin Hood, the company positioned its online-first offering with the strategy of 'democratizing' the financial industry and making brokerage account flexible to operate.
  • Robinhood's target audience tends to be lower-income investors, newbies in the world of trading, and younger millennials. The latter makes up the higher percentage of users of the app, to trade in stocks for the first time.
  • Information surrounding how they are talking to these consumers includes the tactic called the 'secret source.' According to the co-founder of the app-based financial company, a factor that has led to the rise of the company in the US has been "their word-of-mouth approach to picking up users, where people refer their friends and family to the financial upstarts’ apps."
  • The company also uses Robinhood Snacks as an information tool to talk to these consumers. Robinhood Snacks is a "3-minute newsletter with fresh takes on the financial news" for users to start their day.

Stash

  • Stash's online-first offering is learning about investing, and it positioned itself for this offering by using its app to simplify the world of investing.
  • By offering investment plans with no add-on commission, free financial education, limitless free trading, and personal investment accounts, the company positions its online-first offering as not a robo-advisor like other online investment services.
  • The company positions its online-first offering by providing various tools and tips to people on how to invest. It allows consumers to build their investment portfolio instead of constructing one for them. Therefore, consumers enjoy the freedom to make their choice of investments.
  • Stash also positions its online-first offering by providing more than 30 different ETFs where users can pick from. It also has saving features and retirement options through its traditional IRA and Roth IRA accounts.
  • Another way the company positioned itself is via its low-cost investment offer. This works through fractional shares; a system that breaks a full share down into smaller shares. Therefore, consumers can invest with as little as $5.
  • Using fractional shares further positions the company's online-first offering to guide the app users into the investment world, instead of skydiving into the latter by buying one premium-valued share.
  • Stash's target audience tends to be low-income investors, newbie investors, long-term investors, and passionate investors who care about something. The above-mentioned are the following categories of people they recommended this financial app for.
  • Information surrounding how they are talking to these consumers include the use of the company's mantra, which goes as "invest in what you believe in."
  • Another piece of information surrounding how they are talking to these consumers is that if these consumers are looking for hands-on experience with investing, Stash is presented as the option for them. Also, the company communicates to these consumers that investment with Stash puts them in control.

Research Strategy

Using the websites of the app-based financial companies and other third-party platforms, we could evaluate how these companies position their online-first offering, who their target audience tends to be, and how they are talking to these consumers. Their online-first offerings were identified from what gave them uniqueness.


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Part
06

Vanguard - Attributes, Financial Offerings, and Perceptions

The attribute that Vanguard is known for includes charging low fees and offering zero-commission stocks. Some financial offerings/products that Vanguard is known for include Vanguard Total Stock Market Index, Vanguard 500 Indices, Vanguard Total Bond Market Index, Vanguard Total International Stock Market Index, and Vanguard Wellesley Income.

Attributes


Financial Offerings/Products


General Perceptions as a Financial Educator

Investors


Teachers and Students





Part
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Part
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Fidelity - Attributes, Financial Offerings, and Perceptions

Fidelity stands out as one of the best online brokers and is also known for its mutual funds. It is known for several financial offerings such as its stock trading apps, individual retirement account tools, international trading portfolios, penny stocks, and exchange-traded funds tools. The general perception of them as financial educators among consumers is favorable.

Attributes

Best Online Broker

  • Fidelity is known as an investment brokerage firm having earned high ratings from reputable third-party sources. For years, it has been recognized as the best online broker by sources, including Investor's Business Daily, Investopedia, StockBrokers.com, Barron's, Kiplinger's, and Nerdwallet.
  • Investopedia named Fidelity the best overall online broker in 2019, as its best-in-industry platform provides solutions to all levels of investors. The award is based on Investopedia's evaluation of over 3,000 data points, such as "user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on their platforms, costs & fees, security, the mobile experience, and customer service."

Outperforming Mutual Funds

  • Fidelity is also known for its mutual funds, as it is one of the biggest and most diversified global asset management firms with over $2.5 trillion in managed assets. In 2018, 18 of its mutual funds won a total of 22 US Lipper Fund Awards. The awards were based on the individual mutual funds' performances, which surpassed those of their peers in terms of "risk-adjusted, consistent returns over three-, five-, and 10-years relative to their peers."

Financial Offerings

Stock Trading Apps

  • Fidelity has seamlessly integrated its mobile apps with the desktop experience, such that its users can access its unmatched research offerings from third-party providers such as Trefis, Recognia, and Ned Davis via mobile devices.
  • Its trade execution engine identifies price improvement, which helps stock traders save more on transactions of at least 500 shares than they pay in commissions.
  • Through their news feeds, app users can stream news based on their portfolio and watchlists and be notified about important dates like earnings and dividends.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Tools

  • Investopedia named Fidelity among the top five online brokers with "excellent retirement planning tools and reporting."
  • According to Investopedia, Fidelity is using Five Money Musts, a game designed to engage Millennials, to inspire new investors to use exchange-traded funds. It also has tools that help those closer to retirement to get organized, clearly explaining how and when to consider social security payments.
  • Its offerings range from managed accounts to self-service, and its robo-advisory, Fidelity Go, is equipped for IRAs. With clearly explained steps, Fidelity simplifies the process of rolling out an employer's 401(k) balance into an IRA, and it has easy-to-use retirement calculators and goal-setting tools.

International Trading

  • Fidelity is among a few brokers that allow investors to trade directly in instruments traded in foreign markets. With Fidelity, there are 16 currencies available to customers to trade in 25 countries, and they are allowed to determine whether to settle transactions in either US dollars or the local currency. Customers can use a single account to hold both domestic and international stocks.

Penny Stocks

  • Investopedia listed Fidelity as one of the best brokers for penny stocks based on criteria such as "access to the OTC markets, low account minimums, and flat rate per-trade commissions with no additional charge for low-cost stocks."
  • Fidelity's unmatched research assists investors in screening for potential penny stocks by market sector. It has made its Active Trader Pro platform available to every customer, no matter their trading frequency or account balance.

Tools for Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

  • According to Investopedia, Fidelity currently offers one of the best tools for investing in ETFs. Its ETF Research Center provides expert commentary and research, ETF/ETP comparisons, as well as a screener that allows users to search by measures such as performance, volatility, technical, fundamentals, exposures, and analyst ratings.

General Customer Perception As Financial Educators

  • Based on reactions, shares, and comments on Fidelity's educational posts on Facebook and Twitter, customer perception of the company as financial educators is generally favorable. Although comments are hardly specific to perceptions of Fidelity as financial educators, its educational posts usually get tens of "like" and "love" reactions on Facebook.
  • Its Facebook post on its Five Money Musts game got positive comments like "This was a great game!" with a couple of positive reactions and shares.
  • Other educational posts have received comments like "good article," "Great options for retirement planning!" and "Love the tips!"
  • Also, based on a sample of educational articles on its website, more than 90% of readers usually find them useful.

Research Strategy

Information on general perceptions of Fidelity as financial educators was very limited, as customer reviews on websites like ConsumerAffairs were instead focused on the company's performance in terms of its products and customer service, for which there is ample information. We, therefore, based our search for customer perceptions about its educational offerings on the reactions, comments, and shares that its educational posts receive on social media, as well as votes for educational articles on its website.

Part
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Part
08

Schwab - Attributes, Financial Offerings, and Perceptions

Two attributes that Schwab is known for include innovation and quality of management Some financial offerings/products that Schwab is known for include stock trading apps, online trading platform, individual retirement account (IRA), penny stocks, and exchange-traded fund (ETFs).

Attributes

  • Schwab was ranked among the Top 50 companies on the 2019 "World's Most Admired Companies" list. [2]The company scooping the top position in innovation, quality of management, and use of corporate assets.
  • In Innovation, Charles Schwab is committed to exploring different ways to improve their offerings through digital innovation labs established in various parts of the country.
  • In 2018, the company launched two digital labs in Austin and San Francisco. [3] It has innovation groups, also known as 'digital accelerator teams,' made up of 8-12 people who work on 12-week timelines to implement new technology or process.
  • According to the Schwab's Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Neesha Hathi, "the Digital Accelerator brings together talent from across different functions and disciplines to rapidly develop new digital client experiences and re imagine existing ones."
  • According to Fortune, Schwab also ranked top in quality of management. The company was in 2019 ranked top in trade reliability and 'Best in class, order execution'. It is focused on delivering "fast, quality executions with the highest level of transparency related to our performance, process, and practices."
  • As part of its quality management practice, it also ensures equity orders are channeled in places that have delivered high-quality executions over time.

Financial Offerings

  • According to Investopedia's review, "based on a rating scale based on set criteria, collecting over 3,000 data points that we weighed into our star scoring system", Schwab is best known for financial offerings such as stock trading apps, online trading platform, individual retirement account (IRA), penny stocks, and exchange-traded fund (ETFs).
  • Stock Trading Apps-Schwab's optionsXpress platform is fully integrated into an All-in-One trading tool and built into mobile apps. The mobile apps have international market data, capability for streaming news and IdeaHub for trading ideas.
  • Exchange-Traded Fund (ETFs)-Schwab no longer imposes any base commissions on ETF transactions and stocks. The ETF Portfolio Builder helps clients to build a diversified product portfolio quickly. Also, clients can find best funds for their portfolio through the ETF Screeners.
  • Online Trading Platform-Schwab has multiple web-based sites, including Trade Source and StreetSmart Central, from which customers can derive trading ideas. The IdeaHub, All-in-One Trade Ticket, and risk analytics enabled by optionsXpress also make Schwab's online trading worthwhile.
  • Individual Retirement Account (IRA) -Schwab's optionsXpress platform has excellent trading tools for IRA account holders. The Retirement and Planning section also has valuable insights and information to enable clients' better understanding of the account options available to them. Additionally, "Schwab's robo-advisory, Intelligent Portfolios, can be used with any kind of IRA."
  • Penny Stocks-There are no base commissions on penny stocks. Also, there exists adequate information (from reputable news sources and highly-rated research analysts) from Schwab's research pages to inform clients of inherent risk. The accounts also attract waivable account minimum.

General Perception

  • Schwab is "inspiring hope and change by helping people of all ages manage their money" by offering financial literacy/education through Schwab Moneywise, which partners with various programs run by SIFMA Foundation, Schwab MoneyWise on Campus, DonorsChoose, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
  • The general perception of Schwab as a financial educators seems to be positive.
  • In reviewing the Schwab MoneyWise site, one teacher said that "this is a nice informational site for students, teachers, and parents. Learn about budgeting, saving, and investing. Use the calculators to determine interest, savings, and more. This site has polls, tips, articles of interest, and a link for teachers. At the teachers' link, you will find lesson ideas, true stories of teachers "in the trenches," and other links. There are also downloadable PDF files of teaching guides and student activities."
  • The College of Family and Consumer Sciences is one of the institutions that has benefited from Schwab's financial education programs. A state-of-the-art observation lab was built for students to conduct and record tax filing and financial planning sessions.
  • The project was well-received by the institution's officials, who said, "we are so grateful for the support of Schwab and our partner firms that has allowed us to transform this historic building into a cutting-edge financial planning communication training facility."
  • There are some negative reviews of Schwab in other different areas, but none of those reviews are related to them as financial educators.

Research Strategy

The research team has primarily focused on Schwab's website and press release section for information on its attributes and financial offerings, and corroborated the same with information from reputable industry sources such as Fortune and Investopedia. While there was extensive information on customers' perception of Schwab's performance, generally, little information is available on perceptions specific to Schwab as financial educators. Even so, we have included a couple of reviews that paint a picture of the consumers' perceptions of Schwab as financial educators.
Part
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Part
09

Blackrock - Attributes, Financial Offerings, and Perceptions

BlackRock is a globally renowned company with the most significant asset management portfolio. It ranks as the top asset management company many professionals would want to work for. Generally, the company has a positive reputation globally, and the sentiment shared by people across various platforms is positive as well.

Attributes that BlackRock is Known For

BlackRock is known for many attributes ranging from being the best asset management company to work for, to the largest asset management company in the world.

Most Sought-after Employer in 2017 & 2018

  • BlackRock is the most sought-after employer in the asset management industry based on the most recent 2018 Ideal Employer Rankings. It held the same position during the 2017 rankings.
  • In the 2018 survey, 72% of respondents who prefer to work for BlackRock believe that it provides a competitive salary. In the 2017 survey, 78% of the respondents shared the same view.
  • Its top competitor Fidelity scored 68%, and in the competitive bonus category, BlackRock scored 64% versus Fidelity's 54%. Regarding industry leadership, 82% of the respondents perceive BlackRock as a leader versus 68% for Fidelity.

The Biggest Asset Management Company Globally

  • According to Lauren, BlackRock is known because it is the world’s most massive asset management company. Lauren is a BlackRock employee, who continues to narrate that their company is also innovative, a core factor steering its growth.
  • BlackRock manages over $6 trillion of assets, including its iShares business. With its proprietary software — BlackRock’s Aladdin risk-management system, it tracks and analyzes trading, and monitors $18 trillion in assets for over 200 financial institutions, including the European central banks and Federal Reserve.

BlackRock Financial Offerings or Products

BlackRock offers a broad range of products, services, and solutions designed for financial professionals, individuals, and institutions. It claims to offer better solutions for its clients and has served various businesses and institutions for over 30 years. Its offerings include

Investment Funds

iShares ETFs

Aladdin Financial Technology

  • Aladdin financial technology is an end-to-end operating system developed for investment professionals. It aims to offer investment professionals the clarity to see, comprehend, and take action regardless of the changing economic times.
  • The technology provides consistent, actionable data throughout the investment process. The technology unifies accounting tools, complex risk analytics with elaborate portfolio management solutions, compliance, operations, and trading on a single platform.

Education Services

  • BlackRock has a dedicated page on its website for educating its clients. Under the education offering, the company provides information on financial solutions like what are mutual funds?
  • Its education module covers three core topics, which are fund types (mutual funds, closed-end funds, and iShares ETFs), asset class education (equities, fixed income, multi-asset strategies, and alternative investments), and retirement education (plan for retirement, defined contribution plan, what is a 401(k)?, what is an IRA? and target-date funds).

BlackRock Resources

  • BlackRock provides a broad range of resources ranging from tools and calculators to account access resources, among others.
  • These tools offer support services for clients; for instance, the company offers college planning and retirement planning tools for college students and retired seniors.

General Perception of BlackRock as Financial Educators

  • Research findings regarding BlackRock's financial education appear limited as the only sentiment shared publicly regarding its education offering is from the company itself and a few posts from social media.
  • Generally, the perception regarding its education module is positive based on positive likes on one of its posts on Facebook about its program, Find Your Future.
  • On Instagram, the company limits its comments; however, a few uncovered from one discussion regarding social purpose, progress, and possibility also features positive remarks in the comments.
  • One comment from one of BlackRock's employees narrates how exciting the company is when referring to its products, technology, and how it educates its investors, etc.

Research Methodology

While most of the information is readily available on the company website, information regarding the general perception of BlackRock as a financial educator is very limited. We had to scour a few posts on the company's social media to unearth a few comments and likes that show the general perception of the company as seen by consumers. Your research team opted for this approach after failing to uncover reviews, comments, and testimonials that are specific to BlackRock's education offering. The majority of reviews online focus more on the company's mutual funds and investment options, but not on its education module. Therefore, to provide a generalized view of the perception of consumers regarding the company's financial education, we had to examine its social media pages to find anything related to its education. Next, we checked the comments, likes, dislikes, etc., to make a generalized conclusion about that perception.
Part
10
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Part
10

Case Studies - Financial Investing Companies: New Products and/or Services

Schwab recently used business news publications and its website to disclose the launch of its news alternative investment marketplace platform. There is limited information available regarding the platform's target generation. However, Schwab's alternative investment marketplace platform targets high-net-worth clients. Another company that has used its website to reveal the launch of new service offerings available via its mobile apps is Fidelity Investments. Fidelity's newly launched fractional shares trading features and services are targeting new millennial clients (clients from a younger generation when compared to other products that also target generation x clients).

Alternative Investment Platform

  • Company: Schwab
  • The website link to the new product (alternative investment platform) of Schwab is accessible via this link.
  • Charles Schwab announced a new offering in 2019, an alternative investment platform. The platform targets independent financial advisors as well as their clients.
  • Schwab also used business news publications like Business NewsWire to publicize the launch of its Alternative Investment Marketplace platform. The senior vice president of Schwab Advisor Services (on client experience) made public statements to create awareness on the launch of its new platform.
  • There is limited information available to the public on the target generation of Schwab's alternative investment platform. The platform targets "high-net-worth clients." There is no publicly available evidence regarding whether the platform targets a young generation of users. A recent Financial Advisor Magazine reveals that about "95% of high-net-worth millennial" investors prefer alternative investment options (because of their positive effect on the environment), and are taking advantage of them.
  • Schwab drives awareness on its new alternative investment platforms by announcing and explaining the platforms on its website and providing links that give access to the platform.
  • Schwab explains on its website that its alternative investment platforms include Schwab Alternative Investment OneSource platform and the Schwab Alternative Investment Marketplace™ platform.
  • Schwab's website also reveals that it's Alternative Investment OneSource® platform has no annual custody fees. The website also advertises the various features and services available through Schwab's Alternative Investment OneSource platform, and it's Alternative Investment Marketplace™ platform.

Real-Time Fractional Shares Trading of Stocks and ETFs

  • Company: Fidelity
  • Fidelity used a document on its website to announce the launch of new services (dollar-based trade ticket, real-time fractional shares trading of stocks, and ETFs). The website is accessible via this link.
  • Fidelity simplified investing in 2020 by launching a real-time fractional shares trading service for stocks and ETFs.
  • To create awareness, Fidelity announced a new service offering known as real-time fractional shares trading (of stocks and ETFs) via its website (in 2020). Fidelity's dollar-based trading would allow investors to trade little amounts like 0.001 of a share via Fidelity's Mobile app for iOS as well as Android.
  • Fidelity recently used pictures and comments on its Facebook web page to create awareness of its new service launch related to its real-time trading of stocks via fractional shares through Fidelity Mobile® app.
  • Launch details (published by Fidelity) do not reveal the target generation for its new services relevant to dollar-based trading, real-time fractional shares trading of stocks, and ETFs. However, a 2020 Seeking Alpha publication states that the Fidelity launch of dollar-based and fractional shares trading is to lure new millennial clients (clients from the younger generation).
  • Fidelity replies Facebook comments to notify its social media audience of its newly launched dollar-based trade ticket as well as its currently available features and functionalities.
  • Fidelity provides screenshots of its dollar-based trading services available via the Fidelity mobile app. The company also uses its web resources to teach the public "how" the service works with a hypothetical example that shows "how a $100 investment could work"
  • Fidelity provides links to the public to download the mobile app to access its dollar-based trading services via Apple's app store or Google play.
  • Fidelity has various products for various generations, including generation x. However, its recently launched "dollar-based trading" services are targeting a younger generation (millennials), when compared to other products that also target Fidelity's generation x clients.

Research Strategy

The research investigates case studies of financial-investing companies that have launched a new product or service offering in the form of apps or other technological offerings. The study reviewed social media resources, financial-investing company websites, news publications, app stores, and trade publications among similar resources. Insights revealed that a limited number of significant financial-investing companies launched apps within the past two years (recent apps). Despite the detailed review of launch publications, none of the companies investigated revealed the age group targeted by the investigated new services or products during their launching. Experts analysis on some newly launched products and services reveal that Fidelity's launch of fractional shares targets millennials. Detailed research shows that Schwab recently announced via several platforms (including CNBC and Barrons) that it would launch a fractional trading service to lure millennials. Despite publicity indicating intentions, there is no publicly available information indicating that Schwab has launched the product through which it intended to attract "younger first-time traders."

The study has also examined social media tweets on recently launched financial investing services and products such as tweets on Schwab's alternative investment platforms. This strategy investigated details on the generations targeted by these services and products. However, this information is not made public.

The study also examined news and media publications (like CNBC) on recently launched financial investing services and products like Schwabs alternative investment platforms. This strategy investigated the generations targeted by these services and products. However, the target generations were not made public. An investigation to uncover the expert opinions on generations most likely to be targeted by recently launched alternative investment platforms did not reveal any helpful finding. Insights revealed that alternative investment options resonate with about 95% of investors that are high-net-worth millennials.


Part
11
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Part
11

Case Studies - Banks: New Products and/or Services

Wells Fargo and Bank of America are examples of banks in the United States that have successfully launched new products or service offerings to meet the needs of their customers. In 2018, Wells Fargo rolled out its Greenhouse app, which helps younger consumers to control their spending and learn how to save. The Bank of America also launched an AI-powered chatbot, Erica, in the same year to enhance its service delivery to consumers across all generations.

Wells Fargo

-Set Aside Account that is meant for bills and setting money aside for later use. On this account, users can deposit their money and even set aside a certain amount for specific bills.
-Spending Account, which is linked to a debit card, and is used for day-to-day spending. This account enables a customer to set weekly spending limits.
-"Money doesn’t have a brain. So it forgets to pay bills."
-"Money can’t tell left from right. So it has no idea where it was spent."
-"Money’s not smart. You are."

Bank of America

Sources
Sources

From Part 04
Quotes
  • "investing isn’t an art, it’s a science."
Quotes
  • "matter your age or situation, we can help you build a plan for life after work."
Quotes
  • "to help people make the most of their money so they can live better lives using cutting-edge technology."
Quotes
  • "access to private investment opportunities through an independent origination and due diligence process that prioritizes quality offerings from an array of managers."
  • "a curated menu of private equity and hedge funds at lower minimums with a full suite of due diligence and administrative support in a secure digital environment."
Quotes
  • "powering the world's alternative marketplace"
From Part 10