Among the awards that Dalbar presented this year to the investment management community – including mutual fund, broker/dealer, annuity, life insurance and retirement plan providers – New York Life took top honors for pre- and post-sale support to financial professionals — who Dalbar defines as bank and wirehouse reps, broker/dealers and independents — as well as its consistently high level of customer services to both mutual fund investors and holders of annuities.

Despite its recent troubles, Putnam also took the top prize for sales support for financial professionals for both its mutual funds and annuities as well as for customer service in general.

"Putnam did particularly well on the pre-sale side. Its customer service personnel kept their calm and maintained a high level of expertise, which helped financial professionals through the crisis," Whalen said.

Meanwhile, 1st Global became the first broker/dealer to win Dalbar’s service award for post-sale support to financial professionals.

Other winners include The Hartford, Ameritas, Idex, State Street Research and Transamerica Capital.

Of the 40 or so providers that Dalbar tracks, executive director of process evaluation Whalen said that a growing number of these institutions are outperforming the benchmark, and she expects that number to grow.

"Customer services reps’ expertise is becoming increasingly important as it guides financial professionals through good times and bad. Initially, it’s all about price, but customer services maintains that relationship. Without that, it undermines their ability to expand these relationships," Whalen said.

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