Firm Rates Best Web Features for Advisers

Some fund managers offer better Web tools for advisers than others.
There are many rankings out there comparing which fund managers have the best Web site for advisers, and Corporate Insight’s approach is to base its analysis on different areas of Web sites, such as who has the best practice management information.

As part of its Monitor Awards, each year the research firm rates the Web sites for 18 financial firms, specifically looking at individual features for advisers. In different areas, firms could receive “gold” “silver” or “bronze” ratings (with no limit to how many designations were given out in each category). The analysis does not attempt to rate the overall quality of the site.

Last year Corporate Insight saw a theme of focusing on volatility; this year the report noted the theme of “rebuilding,” as firms unveiled resources to help advisers maintain clients after investors lost so many assets (see “Report Ranks Best Web Sites for Advisers”).

The analysis also found that financial firms themselves were hurting, evidenced by fewer Web upgrades than in 2009. There were still a few significant revamps, including Franklin Templeton, Van Kampen, and Lord Abbett (see “Lord Abbett Launches Web Site for Financial Advisers”).

Web Features for Advisers

Homepages: Corporate Insight said it looked for homepages allowing advisers to easily access information throughout the rest of the Web site. The firm also looked for modern, attractive designs that provide a customizable, user-friendly format. Awards were given to DWS Investments (gold); BlackRock and MFS (silver); and Lord Abbett (bronze). DWS earned gold for the second year in a row. The firm allows advisers to save commentary pieces and fund information. It also allows advisers to drag and drop items to make a PDF file.

Tools and calculators: Any adviser knows that interactive tools, calculators, and education modules can help them with current and prospective clients. In this category, Corporate Insight looked for advanced capabilities under a wide scope of topics. Awards were given to iShares (gold); Oppenheimer (silver); and American Funds (bronze). iShares scored gold for the third year in a row by expanding on its tools with a new Fund Comparison Tool, which allows advisers to compare up to five of the firm’s exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Sales ideas: Corporate Insight looked for firms offering at least one multilateral sales strategy as well as a wide range of sales idea topics in an easily accessible location. Awards were given to American Funds (gold); MFS (silver); and Putnam (bronze). Corporate Insight said American Funds won the gold for the third year in a row for its large collection of sales ideas, such as hypothetical illustrations, allowing advisers to edit based on the types of products the client holds.

Practice management resources
: Corporate Insight said in this category, firms needed to address a wide range of practice management topics, such as networking strategies, interactive tools, seminars and workshops, and referral-generation pieces. Awards were given to Invesco Aim, Oppenheimer (gold) and Franklin Templeton (silver). Invesco Aim offers downloadable PDFs and PowerPoint presentations with tips and suggestions about target audiences. Oppenheimer offers a downloadable tool for advisers to stay organized with access to back-office information as well as the Advisor Exchange area for advisers to share ideas.

Literature order systems
: Corporate Insight looked for firms with easily accessible, user-friendly platforms with static shopping carts and preview information for each item. Awards were given to MFS (gold); American Funds and Invesco Aim (silver); and Oppenheimer (bronze). MFS took the gold for its streamlined, user-friendly browsing capabilities, Corporate Insight said.

: To win an award in this category, firms had to offer well-organized site content, navigable via an efficient rollover menu system, according to Corporate Insight. Awards were given to American Century (gold); American Funds, Invesco Aim, and MFS (silver); and Franklin Templeton (bronze). American Century earned gold thanks to a “reorganized menu tab structure that more accurately communicates the content of each tab and better emphasizes important content,” according to the report.

Rich media commentary: Corporate Insight looked for a well-rounded collection of video and audio commentaries, awarding medals to: American Funds, Van Kampen (silver) and BlackRock (bronze).