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Financial Services Industry News: February 2016

Merkle is pleased to provide you with the February edition of our Financial Services Industry News — a compilation of recent happenings within the industry, combined with thought leadership from Merkle’s broad and experienced strategy team. 

This month’s edition provides a recent article published in Financial Brand on key measurements for demonstrating marketing success, written by Jeff Nagel, Senior Strategist in Merkle’s Financial Services Vertical. This is a timely and enlightening piece, given the ongoing and increased focus on demonstrating value of marketing programs in financial services. Merkle is dedicated to providing critical thinking and problem solving around the industries that we serve, along with products and services to facilitate solutions to current and future marketing challenges. We hope that you enjoy this edition of the Financial Services Industry News and we look forward to providing relevant and enlightening content in the future. 

This month’s edition includes the following topics:

  • Interest Rate Overnight Averages
  • General Industry: Report: How Banking Can Improve the Digital Experience
    To understand the scale of the threat to banks, global experience design agency Beyond wanted to test the readiness of consumers to switch to non-bank, online-only challengers. They also asked what consumers expect from the digital banking experience, to understand how banking can better meet their needs and avoid losing them to competitors.
  • Technology & Innovation: Ally Bank Pushes Ahead With Mobile, Wearable Initiatives
    Ally Bank is among the most recent banks to adopt Touch ID fingerprint scanning login for Apple mobile device users, which eliminates the need to enter passcodes to access accounts through the bank's mobile app. The bank also has rolled out an Android Wear app, called the Android Wear ATM Locator, which provides ATM addresses, distances, and directions to Android smartwatch users.
  • Cards & Payments: Visa Launches Account Controls
    A new service launched by Visa allows consumers to determine how, where, and when their credit and debit accounts can be used. Visa Consumer Transaction Controls give consumers real-time access and visibility of their account activity so they can better protect themselves against fraud or security issues.
  • Consumer Lending: Homeowners Enjoy Big Gains in Home Equity, Federal Reserve Bank of N.Y. Finds
    A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicates that Americans paid 8% less on their mortgages in 2015 than in 2008, even as the amount of principal paid off rose by 41%. This means homeowners are paying less each month on their mortgage payments while seeing a dramatic rise in their home equity.
  • Small Business: SunTrust’s Twist on FinTech: Focus on Commercial Clients
    SunTrust is launching an effort to partner with FinTech and setting itself apart by focusing on partnerships that would help its commercial customers. This month, the bank announced that it is launching a “payments and technology industry specialty” within its commercial and business banking unit that will focus on discovering and advising FinTech startups that are developing solutions in the commercial payments space, with the ultimate goal of finding new innovative solutions that may benefit SunTrust's commercial clients.
  • Investments & Wealth Management: Merrill Lynch Launches Social Security Claiming Tool
    Years after several independent software companies and numerous financial services firms first began offering Social Security claiming tools to financial advisers, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has unveiled its own proprietary tool. Ben Storey, the firm's retirement and personal wealth solutions director, considers the timing a stroke of luck.
  • Insurance: Life Insurance Activity Heats Up in January
    Application activity for U.S. individually underwritten life insurance was up 6.4% in January year-over-year, all ages combined, according to the MIB Life Index. January’s results follows six straight quarters of expansion for the composite Index as growth accelerates with the underwriting of year-end sales activity.
  • Regulation & Security: CFPB Rules to Rein in Payday Lenders Won’t Cap Rates, Official Says
    In testimony before U.S. House lawmakers on February 11, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Deputy Director David Silberman said the bureau's upcoming rules for high-interest payday loans will not cap interest rates. “We will not establish a usury cap and interest-rate limits on these or any other lending product,” he said. “We have not contemplated doing so, and we will not do so.”
  • Economy: Mortgage Rates Fall for 6th Straight Week, Hit 10-Month Low
    Freddie Mac reported on February 11 that the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.72% to 3.65%, its lowest point in 10 months. Meanwhile, the average rate on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage slipped from 3.01% the week before to 2.95%.
  • Thought Leadership: Measuring Marketing Success: We’re Doing it Backwards
    Do you remember the joke about a drunk man crawling around on his hands and knees under a streetlight late at night looking for his wallet? A passerby asks the man if he is sure this is where he dropped the wallet, to which the drunk replies, “I actually think I dropped it across the street.” “Then why are you looking over here?” the baffled passerby asks. “Because the light is better here,” explains the drunk.

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