Mutual fund companies have been slow to offer web sites where shareholders can get access to their accounts and make transactions, according to a consultant who evaluates fund web sites and their services.
Only 27.7 percent of 350 mutual fund company web sites surveyed offer shareholders access to their accounts, said Steven K. Miyao, director of mutual fund e-business solutions for McGladrey & Pullen, an accounting and consulting firm in New York. That percentage is surprisingly low but should change as shareholder demand and pressure from competitors force fund companies to provide more online services, Miyao said. McGladrey & Pullen's data was drawn from its annual survey of mutual fund websites which began last month.
Miyao spoke at an industry conference held here last week and sponsored by the Institute for International Research, conference organizers of New York. McGladrey & Pullen, an accounting and consulting firm, conducts an annual survey and rating of mutual fund company web sites.
Customer services such as online transactions and account access distinguish better web sites, Miyao said. Less than one-third of mutual fund web sites - about 100 out of 350 - provide these services, Miyao said. For example, currently, only 14 percent of mutual fund web sites allow shareholders to make purchases online, he said.
Even those sites that do not provide account access or enable customers to make trades, often do provide important information to shareholders, Miyao said. Sites are generally good at informing investors about the nuts and bolts of investing, offering guidelines for making allocation decisions and providing information about preparations for the year 2000. Approximately 62 percent of the fund web sites provide daily net asset values, Miyao said. Sixty-nine percent give visitors access to prospectuses.