NU Online News Service, Aug. 15, 4:46 p.m. – Companies in nearly every financial services sector have made dramatic leaps in their use of the Web since last year, according to a new study by Andersen Business Consulting, Chicago.

Andersen, the consulting arm of Arthur Andersen L.L.P., rated 150 financial service firms based on their effectiveness in increasing use by consumers of the company Web site and the site’s ability to retain consumers and generate new revenue.

When Andersen researchers compared the ratings with the ratings from a similar Andersen study in April 2000, they found that the ratings of banking and insurance companies improved by about 15%.

Brokerage firms improved about 17%, but ratings for asset management company sites showed only marginal improvement.

Life insurance companies, which Andersen once described as “laggards,” have built a basic Internet presence, and some have moved beyond the basics by adding substantial depth and breadth of products to their Web sites, Andersen concludes.