Fund Firm Commentary for Advisers Varies

Many mutual fund firms provide advisers with commentary, but not all of them have jumped on board with new media endeavors.

Research firm Corporate Insight looked at 17 mutual fund firms and found 94% of them offered some sort of commentary for advisers. The report found that 31% provide fund-specific commentary. Some offer multimedia commentary: 31% provide video commentary; 25% offer audio; and 13% offer podcasts.

More than half of the firms highlight new commentary pieces regularly on their homepage, but only five firms notify advisers of new content using syndicated services such as RSS feeds and podcasts. Some firms use e-mails notifications (13%) or delivery (19%).

Four of the firms in the report—DWS Investments, MFS, Oppenheimer, and Van Kampen—allow users to launch videos directly on the homepage. Most of these are smaller videos, but Van Kampen allows the user to enlarge the player.

Corporate Insight gave these five firms a top grade for “comprehensive commentary outlets:” American Funds, AllianceBernstein, MFS, DWS Investments, and Invesco Aim. Those firms prominently highlight content on their homepage and use a variety of formats. DWS and MFS use video or audio formats.

The study noted that most firms offer a centralized outlet to organize commentary-related materials, but the quality varies. Less than half (38%) of firms in the report provide an archive of materials, which also vary in quality. AllianceBernstein has an archive dating back three years, but offers no way to sort through the materials; Fidelity offers and expandable archive, but there aren’t many articles in it, according to the report.

Corporate Insight recommends these attributes in commentary for advisers:

  • offers and promotes a central commentary outlet;
  • offers a full range of formats, from audio and video to PDFs;
  • provides an organized archive;
  • keeps advisers updated with RSS feeds and e-mails;
  • offers diverse commentary subjects about different regions and sectors.

During times of extreme market turbulence, it is even more essential for mutual fund advisers to understand the correlation of topical, current events to their mutual funds’ performance, Corporate Insight said. Commentaries in a variety of formats strengthen an adviser’s loyalty to a mutual fund firm.