At least one fund manufacturer and an independent company are setting up services to allow individuals to obtain statements and other documents from financial service companies via e-mail.
Corporate Document Systems of Kansas City this month plans to begin offering ePriority(tm), an electronic mail service that provides a secured channel for such documents. Customers will be able to set up free individual mailboxes and authorize their banks, insurance companies and mutual funds to e-mail statements, trade confirmations, fund annual reports and even proxy information to their mailbox. Individuals will be able to sign up for mailboxes at a participating mutual fund's website or at www.epriority.com.
"It's a new application of technology to tie financial institutions to their shareholders," said Dick Johnson, spokesman for Corporate Document Systems. A central mailbox can solve the problem for shareholders of switching Internet service providers and ease the task for fund companies of keeping up with changing e-mail addresses. The ePriority mailbox is protected through the use of Secure Socket Layer encryption technology. That prevents anyone else from breaking into the mailbox and stealing personal information. There is also a system which verifies if a user is authorized to gain access to information, said Johnson.
With the service, information can be sent to individuals' electronic mailboxes in seconds, cutting out waits of several days to receive documents through the regular mail. The system also saves stationery, printing and mailing costs.
DST, the provider of information processing and services for financial service organizations and a leading mutual fund transfer agent is a 50 percent owner of ePriority. The other 50 percent is privately held. Corporate Document already provides ePriority services to BankAmerica Corporation, ChaseMellon Shareholder Services and United Missouri Bank's Securities Transfer Division.
Meanwhile, Vanguard Group of Malvern, Penna., began providing account information to shareholders by e-mail in June, with the redesign of its website, Access Vanguard at www.vanguard.com. Vanguard investors who have signed up for online account access can elect to receive electronic versions of individual Vanguard fund statements, prospectuses and fund reports. Investors may switch back to paper statements whenever they choose.
The biggest difference between ePriorty's product and Vanguard's service is that Vanguard does not automatically send information or documents to investors' e-mail addresses. Instead, Vanguard sends an e-mail notice to investors, informing them that they can come back to Vanguard's website to pick up a document.