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Hey, Boomers, Surf's Up!

AXA Equitable Launches Retiree Lifestyle Website


Don't just retire. "Reengage, reinvigorate, redefine, rejuvenate."

That's the inspirational message at MyRetirementShop.com, a new, all-in-one website for the "at retirement" generation that AXA Equitable Life Insurance launched last Wednesday, after two years of research and numerous focus groups.

Many independent sites already exist, but have had limited success attempting to cater to this crowd. AXA's website is notable not just for its comprehensiveness-from a concierge who can schedule a golf tee time, to learning about working while collecting Social Security benefits, to obtaining a doctor's second opinion-but also because it is the first of its kind for a financial services firm. It provides information pertaining to virtually any lifestyle interest or question that a retiree or pre-retiree might have, not just their finances.

Geoffrey Bobroff, president of Bobroff Associates, admires the idea and direction AXA Equitable is taking, but wonders how well it will resonate with Baby Boomers.

"I think the website is a good start, but the Boomer generation is a generation of delegators. I've got my financial planner, my plumber, my electrician. This is more of a do-it-yourself website," Bobroff said.

So, are they ready?

According to a Forrester study this year, retirees spend 10 hours a week surfing the web, and these numbers could increase as younger people begin retiring.

"People nearing or at retirement are Internet savvy, information hungry and active," said Barbara Goodstein, chief innovation officer at AXA Equitable. "MyRetirementShop.com brings together information on retirement living in one location so users can get what they want and need, faster, and spend more time enjoying what they find."

Sure enough, visitors will find some interesting twists not necessarily expected from a retirement-centric website, such as daily Sudoku brain teasers, to a job bank specifically for retirees, a database of the best local doctors, recipes, volunteering opportunities and even emergency travel tips. The later came in handy for Goodstein before an overseas trip when no one in her company could tell her what kind of phone adapter she would need in Prague.

Apart from the helpful concierge service, which can help a visitor locate tickets to a sporting event or concert, there is ready information on AXA annuities, brokerage accounts and life insurance, alongside standard retirement tools, which have a tendency to be instantly sobering and daunting. Included here are projected net worth and life expectancy calculators.

While many could do without the knowledge of such unsettling information (for those interested in knowing, this reporter's life is projected to last roughly 73.1 wonderful years), simply shying away from the issue of retirement or the inevitable realities of life do not make them disappear.

Regardless, AXA Equitable did not create the site to scare people, but to provide consumers access to a wealth of information they might be interested in, in the hopes of forging stronger relationships with its current customers as well as future clients.

"One of the goals here was to create this as a customer loyalty program, so we are going to be very active in marketing this program to our customers," Goodstein said. "If you give customers what they need, they will stay with you. The real vision here is that if you move customers from being satisfied to very satisfied, you won't lose them."

As far as overall goals and the ultimate success of this endeavor, Goodstein believes that what is most interesting here is that AXA Equitable did not specifically tie metrics for the website project to product sales.

"We were more anxious to get traffic and visibility than to make sales out of this, because, again, this is a value-added concept. This is going beyond product to lifestyle, to enhance the lifestyle and support the lifestyles of our customers. So, our metrics are focused on net-new visitors," Goodstein said.

AXA expects the website will attract 500,000 annual visitors. Of course, at the end of the day, the fact still remains that AXA Equitable is in the business to sell.

"At some point, [sales] have to be a measurement, because this is not an eleemosynary organization," Bobroff said.

"Here's an organization that has lived off the financial planner marketplace all of its life, and if they were [direct-sold firm like] a Vanguard or a Fidelity one would say, 'Well, it would ultimately lead to other things,' but their success in the world that they live in is through financial planners or agents. How, then, does this translate?"

Perhaps it's an opportunity for the firm to create buzz directly among investors as well as the financial planners who serve them.

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