Corporate Insight gave four fund companies top marks for the way they present their fixed-income fund information online. DWS Investments took the lead with a grade of A+, followed by BlackRock (A), iShares (A-) and Putnam (A-).
The consultant ranked 15 fund companies’ websites based on a number of criteria. One was discounted out of the gate for offering nothing for its fixed-income fund, which meant the bottom-ranking fund, which the firm won’t name, actually scored less for doing slightly more, in this case including a graphic promotion for its fixed-income fund on its advisor-facing website, said Lauren Wistrom, senior analyst at Corporate Insight in New York. “That’s the one thing it did do, but there were no actionable materials or sales ideas,” she scolded.
Most of the other firms did a pretty good job on their educational materials promoting specific funds, although many relied on basic PDF documents to get the message across.
DWS, by contrast, posted an interactive presentation that advisors earned a continuing education credit for completing. In addition, all of its information related to its fixed-income funds were in one area, whereas other firms scattered theirs. DWS also has comparison documents that advisors can use to teach clients the difference between taxable and tax-free fixed-income funds, and the difference between bonds and bond funds.
Corporate Insight’s research doesn’t tally whether firms with richer sales materials sell more funds through advisors, but Wistrom said it stands to reason. “If I was an advisor I’d go to the firm that provides more resources and tells me what I should be pushing and how I should be pushing it,” she said.