The market analytics company kasina has released its annual review of asset managers’ websites, and the top five websites saw a shakeup this year.
The report, “Advancing the Advisor Decision Journey with the Advisor Website,” evaluates sites created for U.S. financial advisors by firms representing a broad cross-section of the industry.
“Advisor websites are an important aspect of the advisor decision-making process, yet they tend to be underfunded,” said Tracy Needham, senior research analyst for kasina, in a statement. “Effectively presenting what advisors want to see will go a long ways toward earning their loyalty and their business.”
For its 2015 analysis, kasina surveyed more than 450 financial advisors on website personalization, demographics and user behavior. The results were then combined with reviews of more than 40 asset manager advisor websites to create a unique and comprehensive set of criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of asset manager websites.
For the first time in the more than 16 years it has evaluated mutual fund websites, kasina has incorporated behind-the-scenes personalization into its site evaluations.
“It’s clear that asset managers need to personalize content, and the survey shows that some firms are doing much better to that end than others,” Needham said in a statement. “Advisors get frustrated with websites that appear to have nothing to do with their interests, and frustrating advisors is hardly a way to become a trusted partner.”
To determine the top websites, kasina uses a quantitative analysis focused on the availability of key content items and features in five broad areas. It rewards those with “content and design that differentiates the firm;” “timely, prominent news and insights;” “rich information about firm experts;” “good usability on mobile devices;” and “a thematic, rather than format-centric, approach to content.”
kasina also test-drives the user experience of each website.
From there, the scores from each evaluation category are weighted to derive an overall kasina Web Index (kWI) score.
“While several firms are repeating their top site appearances, several firms were substantially repositioned,” the report states.
The firm notes that it does not compensate financial advisors who participate in the surveys, and asset managers do not pay to be evaluated.
Here are kasina’s Top 5 Websites for Financial Intermediaries in 2015:
5. The Royce Funds
kWI Score 2015: 70.5
kWI Score 2014: 85
“Royce’s fund profiles still excel at providing a variety of risk and return elements to give advisors a better sense of how a fund will perform in the portfolio over time,” according to the report. “The variety of ‘why of performance’ data gives them a better sense of what’s driving those returns, so advisors can see how likely the performance trend is to continue.”
According to kasina, the usability of The Royce Funds’ site continues to be high, and was “further enhanced” by the addition of social login option for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo. New filtering options on the fund performance, insights and news pages also boosted the site’s usefulness.
“The biggest changes this year happened behind the scenes, with the integration of a new CRM and marketing automation that has fueled better data for decision-making and, more recently, personalization efforts on the site,” the report states.
kWI Score 2015: 72.7
kWI Score 2014: 42
“PIMCO’s advisor website received a complete makeover this past year, which significantly boosted its usability, differentiation and ability to deliver a more personal experience,” the report says. “Mobile accessibility took a big leap forward with the streamlined, responsive design.”
In addition, kasina praised the site’s variety of timely commentary and insights.
“PIMCO has long provided strong thought leadership and timely commentary, and they continue to emphasize that,” the report says. “But now they’re also highlighting the breadth and depth of their capabilities with a new experts directory, available on the main navigation bar. Photos link to biographies recapping their experience managing similar style funds, as well a list of funds the experts currently manage, and sortable links to their recent content.”
3. Fidelity Financial Advisor Solutions
kWI Score 2015: 73.7
kWI Score 2014: 50
“Fidelity just reinvented its advisor website experience to provide a seamless, highly personalized experience that integrates messaging with other convenient features like focus lists and favorites,” the report states. “The single-site approach, responsive web design, and personalization-driven dynamic content and navigation dramatically boosted the friendliness of the user experience across all devices.”
According to kasina, Fidelity provides a central source for all online interactions.
“The complete integration of the CRM and website enable personalization that is perhaps the most extensive and sophisticated in the asset management industry,” according to the report. “More than 10,000 pieces of content — both print and online — can be turned on or off for advisors across more than a dozen channels and roll-ups of multiple channels.”
kWI Score 2015: 73.9
kWI Score 2014: 70
“Oppenheimer is another firm that is continually evaluating and improving its advisor website experience,” the report states. “A new branding effort has brought a more flexible, sophisticated design. One benefit of this flexibility is it provides a more consistent experience for advisors who arrive at the site through a third-party ad link, by serving up the images and headline from the ad before paying it off with new copy and a new offer. And the new design still plays well for mobile viewers of its responsive website.”
kasina also liked Oppenheimer’s “conversational” market insights and commentary.
“The conversational style and links to comprehensive bio pages give advisors a much better sense of the people they are entrusting with their clients’ money,” the report states.
1. Putnam Investments
kWI Score 2015: 74.1
kWI Score 2014: 71
“Putnam’s agile website development process means the firm is constantly testing, tracking, and refining the experience for advisors,” the report states.
Putnam’s high ranking can be partly attributed to what kasina calls the site’s “increasingly strong and innovative personalization.”
“Innovative new uses of personalization this year include recognizing anonymous website visitors as advisors and inviting them to compare the fund they’re viewing in the firm’s comprehensive FundVisualizer tool,” the report states.
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