Mutual fund companies have a new avenue for disseminating their educational materials to investors.
Dian Vujovich, who writes a mutual fund column for the Miami Herald and has written books on the fund industry, has created an online clearinghouse for such literature.
The new site, called Dian's Mutual Fund Freebies, and located at www.mutualfundfreebies.com and www.diansfundfreebies.com, offers investors a range of mutual fund educational materials that can be ordered online or by calling 800 numbers listed on the site.
Vujovich has created a group called the Supporters of Financial Education (SOFE), and members of that group, currently a total of three fund companies, support the site. The companies currently signed up to six-month memberships in SOFE are State Street Research & Management of Boston, Pioneer Funds of Boston and Invesco Funds Group of Denver, Colo.
Only the largest mutual fund companies provide investors with free educational materials, says Vujovich. However, both load and no-load companies offer such literature, she said. But, not all of it is well-done or unbiased. Vujovich pores over all of the literature she can and singles out the most helpful and the least biased to mention on the site.
A total of 13 fund companies, including the three SOFE members, and organizations, including the Investment Company Institute, currently have their literature on the site. All of the literature can also be ordered from the companies directly.
"All of this stuff is available directly through other sources," Vujovich said. "I'm just putting it together into one spot."
Each week, one piece of literature from one SOFE member is displayed in the "Pick of the Week" section, and literature from SOFE members can be ordered directly online for free. Literature from non-SOFE members that is included on the site cannot be ordered online. An 800 number for the corresponding company is provided, however.
Vujovich, a freelance writer who works out of her home in West Palm Beach, Fla., hopes to have a total of 10 sponsors and to add advertising to further support the site, which she runs by herself. She declined to disclose the cost of membership in SOFE.
Mutual fund companies should become sponsors for a number of reasons, Vujovich said. Added exposure to the retail investor plus sales leads generated when potential investors order their educational literature are two clear incentives, she said.
She also believes the more investors know, the more they are apt to be satisfied with their fund company.
"A smarter investor is a better investor," she said.
The website also features portfolio manager commentary on audio as well as a listing of mutual fund 800 numbers, ticker symbols and websites. Information is broken down into several categories such as newsletters, retirement, taxes and college planning.
Vujovich rates some educational materials on her site.