More than half of advisors use a tablet to access product provider websites.

Financial advisors increasingly rely on product providers’ websites and Web support in managing their practices, but still encounter too many sites that are hard to navigate, have outdated content or content that is too generic or promotional, according to a recent report from Practical Perspectives, an independent consultant.

Significant opportunity exists to enhance the usability and utility of Web support, especially given the growing demand for Web access through smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, the firm said in a statement.

The report found the following:

  • 89% of advisors consider product provider websites and Web support very or somewhat important to their practice
  • Some two-thirds of advisors use smartphones to access product provider websites, and more than half use an iPad or tablet
  • 59% typically limit Web support to between two and five different product provider websites
  • American Funds, Blackrock/iShares, Fidelity, Morningstar, Franklin Templeton and Jackson National are product providers identified as providing websites or Web support that advisors consider best in class
  • Younger and technologically adept advisors are more engaged with product provider websites and heavily rely on mobile devices for accessing support

The analysis was based on more than 550 online surveys conducted in March with advisors and representatives, including wirehouse and regional brokers, independent brokers, financial planners and RIAs.

“We find that most advisors tend to limit their web use to a few trusted providers they are familiar with and which offer broad capabilities, are simple or intuitive to use, and are designed specifically for financial professionals,” Howard Schneider, president of Practical Perspectives and author of the report, said in the statement.

At the same time, mutual fund companies, annuity providers, broker-dealers, custodians and other service firms are making a huge investment in delivering content, servicing and tools to advisors through the Web.

Schneider said the report was written to provide these entities with insight on how advisors perceive the available support and how their use of it is evolving as technology changes, and what distributors can do to improve advisor satisfaction and provide relevant capabilities and features to different types of advisors.

— Check out For Product Providers, Wirehouses Still Rule: Cerulli on ThinkAdvisor.