Americans are already moving money around through their smartphones — purchasing, banking, trading. Once used to this quick pace, mobile users are likely to jettison institutions that slow them down.
Yet according to Boston-based consulting firm Dalbar, which tracks mutual fund websites on a quarterly basis, the fund industry has not kept pace with the changes in society.
As its just-out quarterly review, made available to ThinkAdvisor, puts it:
“After a comprehensive analysis of websites within the mutual fund industry, it turns out that in this age of increased mobile usage, comparatively few websites deliver mobile optimized experiences. In fact, only 48.72% offer any sort of mobile-formatted experience, and of that already rather slim group, only 68.42% provide an experience that supports advisor needs.”
Worse yet, some third of the group venturing into mobile-optimized sites “completely ignore” the specific needs of financial advisors, Dalbar says. In other words, these sites in no way differentiate between consumers and advisors in providing information about funds or market views.
And many that offer a financial advisor login very often suffer from profound usability issues, like unreadable text.
“Another puzzling concept to ponder,” the Dalbar report continues, “are those firms that have made the effort to create a pseudo-professional experience through sites that are labeled for ‘professionals’ or ‘advisors,’ but then go on to reiterate generic content that would be found on a public investor website.”
(Related on ThinkAdvisor: 6 Top Mobile Websites for Investors: Dalbar)
Dalbar rated sites in a number of categories, including design, security, mobile optimization, ease of use, personalization/customization, support, interaction with the firm, interactivity, navigation and behavior centric.
Mutual fund companies’ IT staffs have their work cut out for them. As Dalbar’s managing director Kathleen Whalen tells ThinkAdvisor, “It is astonishing that … little if anything is done to create a mobile experience tailored to the needs of financial professionals. In essence, mutual funds tie financial professionals to their desk.”
But some fund companies are further ahead on the curve than the rest. Here are 10 of them:
The ETF giant does not ignore financial advisors. Its differentiated mobile-site offerings include sales support designed to help advisors initiate conversations with clients and prospects on current topicd and educational initiatives aimed at broadening a financial advisor’s perspective.
“BlackRock provides financial professionals with a number of tools and resources that they can use on the go, giving them a seamless connection with the firm, while increasing the efficiency of conducting business,” the Dalbar report states.
9. John Hancock
The Boston-based mutual fund, insurance and retirement services firm changed places (from No. 10 to No. 9) with BlackRock in Dalbar’s current ranking, the only Top 10 firms whose rankings changed from the previous report.
The firm’s high scores in functionality and usability (No. 8 in each) made up for its lower ranking in Dalbar’s behavior-centric criterion.
Another Boston-based mutual fund company hip to the times has achieved its top rank mainly as a result of a high functionality score — No. 6 of the 25 sites Dalbar compares.
In ranking sites, Dalbar gave most weight (50 points) to functionality, which it says reflects “the quality and range of capabilities provided to financial professionals.”
The New York-based fund company ranked in the Top 10 in all three of Dalbar’s functionality, usability and behavior-centric critieria, achieving its highest rank (No. 7) in usability.