Putnam Investments announced Monday a free Web-based tool for both computer and iPad advisor users that allows financial advisors from broker-dealers to compare data on the mutual fund universe using 60 different criteria.
While Putnam executives interviewed on Friday stressed that the FundVisualizer is not a fund screener, they also said that the tool will be enhanced with additional features over time based on user feedback. Among those enhancements are likely to be a version for RIAs and a version for end clients.
Advisors can access the FundVisualizer tool through Putnam’s advisor website following registration, and using data licensed from Morningstar, can create visual comparisons of multiple mutual funds from a universe of more than 10,000 funds across asset classes, cap size, load and no-load and mutual fund families, not just Putnam funds, and display them for client use, if desired. A button also allows users to download the prospectuses of specific funds. Using a drag-and-drop approach, the advisor user can create the comparisons as tables and save to a chart library that’s stored in their online repository for future use.
The iPad version of the tool uses an optimized version of the Safari web browser, with charts saved onto the iPad itself.
Paul O’Connell, a Putnam senior VP and Internet group director, suggested that advisors might use FundVisualizer in conjunction with other mutual fund research tools, or in lieu of those tools. In building the tool, O’Connell said the intent was not to create something that mimicked other financial services research tools, but to meet the expectations of advisor clients by providing the look and feel of high-end visuals such as can be found on Yahoo finance or ESPN.com.
Beginning with a soft launch in September 2010, the tool has had three revisions already, said O’Connell, promising that FundVisualizer “is only in the second inning” of development. Brian Kelley, director of Putnam’s sales and marketing center, said Fund Visualizer is “an evaluator of past performance, a visualizer tool,” but suggested that Putnam would “like to make it more of a research tool” eventually.
Kelley positioned release of the tool, and its inclusion of the entire universe of mutual funds, as part of Putnam’s “client first,” attitude, which he said emanated from Bob Reynolds (left), who is approaching his third anniversary at Putnam. He noted as well that all of Putnam’s salespeople are equipped with iPads.
Among the other Putnam technology tools launched since Reynolds joined Putnam is the firm’s Wealth Management Center, a Roth IRA Conversion Resource Center, a Global Sector Portfolio Modeling Tool, and a proprietary Lifetime Income Analysis Tool.