By Anthony O'Donnell Senior Editor
Acting on feedback from distributors and insight from research, AXA Distributors LLC has launched significant enhancements to its AXAdistributors.com Web site to provide users with greater control and security.Users of AXAdistributors.com now use a more secure authentication protocol and have access to a Message Center, which provides notices to each registered representative about his or her book of business, including an e-mail record of all client-related transactions; a Staff Access Level mechanism allows partner firms to determine the types of information that individual representatives may view, including client account information, policy details and underwriting details; and an E-Mail Subscriptions mechanism offers reps the ability to opt in to receive notices about product updates, money manager changes and other distributor-relevant information from AXA.
Concerns on the part of AXA and its partner firms about the security of brokers' ID and password led to the development of a re-authentication protocol designed to maximize security with the least impact on ease-of-use, according to Jeff Coomes, VP of Web content strategy, AXA Distributors (New York, a member company of Paris-based AXA Financial, $795 billion in assets under management).
"There's a mandatory requirement internally on any application that users reset their passwords every 90 days, and the thinking here was that we should do the same thing with our external users," Coomes says. "However, external users weren't too keen on the idea."
Coomes explains that a broker might work with about 10 other firms' Web sites, none of which are likely to require them to periodically reset their passwords. In order to minimize brokers' inconvenience, AXA implemented a protocol that prompts brokers to select a secret question, the answer to which is recorded and combined with other known information about the broker. "Now, every 90 days when [the broker] logs on and successfully enters ID and password, we ask for Social Security number and date of birth and then ask her to answer her secret question," Coomes explains. "If she does these three things successfully, she is re-authenticated and we are happy."
In response to specific requests from distribution partners, AXA developed another authentication protocol that lets brokers authorize staff members to see certain kinds of information. "In the past the only way [a broker] could give her number-one assistant access to the Web site was for her to share her ID and password," Coomes says. The protocol provides two tiers of access, which distributor users can use on an opt-in basis to give them greater control over what they share with their staff.
User feedback and research drove AXA Distributors implementation of E-Mail Subscriptions, which responds to brokers' preference to have relevant information pushed to them rather than their having to speculatively log on to the Web site in case something important might be posted. Since the site enhancements were rolled out in early spring, adoption rates confirm the e-mail functionality's utility to brokers, Coomes believes. "We pushed our first e-mail out two weeks after we launched the new functionality, and 80 percent of the e-mails sent were opened," he reports. "Of those that were opened, about 90 percent led the user to go to the Web site and get the information referred to in the e-mail."
The AXA Distributor site's Message Center tracks users' business by posting summaries of all financial transactions and a majority of non-financial transactions that occur in the broker's book of business. If, for example, a fund transfer is made on a given account, an alert about that transfer will appear at the Message Center location on the site. "The broker can click on a link that takes her to a summary of the transfer," Coomes says. "The broker can also opt in for alerts on client-initiated transactions."
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio