August 20, 2013

Fund Firms Ease Restrictions on Website Access

More firms offering access to online resources for unregistered users

Mutual fund firms are offering more open access to their websites, a report by Corporate Insight found.

2011, 53% of firms offered unrestricted access to at least some of the material on their websites. Now, more than three-quarters of firms offer public access to some portion of their site.

Corporate Insight found only four major firms — OppenheimerFunds, American Funds, Invesco and Franklin Templeton — limit access to their websites to registered advisors only. But while other firms don’t require registration to access everything, there are limits on what they share.

One way firms manage what is visible on their site is by requiring advisors to log in for access to profile and account-specific content, leaving access to research and product information available to anyone. Others may mark restricted content with an icon to show users it’s unavailable. Corporate Insight found 28% of firms use this strategy as a way to show advisors what they’re missing.

Fidelity, however, effectively has two sites: one that hides registered content for unaffiliated or logged-out users, and a complete site for advisors who log in.

Corporate Insight noted that firms restrict access to information on their websites for a variety of reasons, from protecting proprietary sales tools to protecting themselves from regulatory enforcement.

One thing that many of the firms analyzed don’t offer, though, is an explicit description for unregistered users of the features they could have access to. Corporate Insight pointed to American Century and Putnam as some of just a few firms that listed the benefits and features of affiliating with the firm.

Putnam is also the first firm to allow advisors to sign in with LinkedIn, the way many sites allow users to sign in with Facebook. Advisors who choose to do so grant Putnam access to information on their profile.

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Check out Next Gen of Advisors Gets Schooled in Social Media That Sells on ThinkAdvisor.

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