Putnam Investments launched FundVisualizer, a Web-based analytical tool that allows advisers to compare more than 100,000 mutual funds and ETFs in 60 different categories and formats to help them pick and choose the products that will best meet their clients' individual investment needs.FundVisualizer, which was developed by Putnam's in-house IT staff with some help from third-party vendors in roughly 70 days, is platform agnostic -- meaning future mobile versions will be compatible with a variety of tablet PCs like the iPad and Research In Motion's PlayBook and countless others. It is powered by Morningstar data, including the full universe of mutual funds and ETFs.
For now, any financial adviser can access FundVisualizer for free by simply registering at the Putnam adviser site to begin comparing mutual funds -- Putnam and otherwise -- across a variety of data points including performance, risk and asset size.
"The way advisers run their business has dramatically changed over the last 20 years," said Brian Kelley, director of Putnam's sales and marketing center. "Back when I was wholesaling, most advisers would pick five or six different funds and only use one fund family. Today, they want best in class. They want to pick one or two from here and one or two from there."
Instead of limiting their options because of time constrictions or their inability to quickly extract pertinent data on all these different load and no-load funds, FundVisualizer lets advisers click and compare on a side-by-side basis any number of funds from all providers one screen.
Armed with this instantaneous data, it's just a matter of picking and choosing the right funds for each individual client's individual investment needs and criteria.
"It's another tool in the toolbox to help advisers build their businesses and make good investment decisions for their clients," Kelley said.
Putnam, one of the first financial services firms to make iPads available to its sales teams, also created an iPad version of FundVisualizer for its wholesalers and plans to debut a mobile version for other devices down the road.
While most financial services firms -- and investors for that matter -- have been somewhat hesitant to embrace mobile and web-based apps to make and manage their investments, more and more firms are rolling out apps for smartphones like the iPhone and other mobile devices.
Putnam officials said early feedback from FundVisualizer beta testers has been encouraging.
"FundVisualizer provides the real-time comparative information that advisers need to guide their clients in making the right decisions as they build portfolios to meet their personal financial goals," said Bill Connolly, Putnam's head of global distribution. "Advisers who have tested the FundVisualizer have found it to be a fast, easy way of performing the comparisons and analyses they need to more quickly and thoroughly decide what is best for their clients."
Larry Barrett writes for Financial Planning.