Mutual fund and ETF providers are stepping up their communication efforts with advisors to be successful in cultivating long-term relationships.

Digital awareness is key, providers and analysts note.

While fund firms are striving to have more advisors and investors receive notices electronically, messages are often lost in cyberspace leading to continued mailings that add printing costs and work hours. "Providers, investors and the advisors who manage money for investors, want to be much more engaged," says Noah Hamman, CEO of AdvisorShares.

Companies were first permitted by the SEC to provide proxy materials to shareholders online in 2007.

How are providers, such as BlackRock, Vanguard and Fidelity trying to distinguish themselves?

As Money Management Executive's Associate Editor Andrew Coen points out, one regulation that has impacted asset manager shareholder communication is the SEC's "plain English" rules for prospectuses, initially adopted in 1998 and intensifying in focus with new digital technologies and ways to communicate. Neil Hennessy, CIO of Hennessy Funds, says his firm has always made an effort to produce prospectuses in an as easy-to-read format as possible.

"Sometimes these fact sheets look like they were written by a computer programmer," says Morningstar analyst Michael Rawson. "To be relevant, providers must make their prospectuses information digitally and across relevant formats, making it easy to comprehend."

REMEMBERING A VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY

Geoffrey Bobroff, an advisory board member for Money Management Executive, died of an apparent heart attack on July 19 in route to a hospital near his home in East Greenwich, R.I.

Bobroff, 70, founded Bobroff Consulting, in 1993. He previously worked as senior vice president of Lipper Analytical Services in Denver and served as executive vice president at Integrated Resources. Bobroff began his career as a trial attorney with the SEC in Washington.

"Our father had an inquisitive nature and an amazing memory for facts and figures. He was able to use that knowledge when he spoke about the investment company industry and the goings-on within it," says his daughter, Rachel Bobroff. "He really enjoyed sharing that knowledge with colleagues, clients and reporters. To us he was 'Dad,' but to many others he was a teacher and we think that will be a part of his legacy."

Bobroff graduated in 1966 from the University of Miami, where he studied accounting, and where he received a law degree three years later.

His survivors include his wife and three children.

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