August 2013: Advisor Site Search

The August Advisor Monitor examines advisor site search. Seventeen firms within our coverage group offer site search capabilities, typically hosting a ubiquitous search bar in the static header. We examined the ease of finding search tools, the ways that results were presented and how accurate the results were by performing sample searches. Our analysis focuses on the following qualities:

  • Are the search tools easy to find?
  • Are the search tools easy to use and do they provide quality results?
  • How do the firms display their search results and how accurate are they?

In general, firms are capable of providing relevant results for searches, but considerable variation was present between firms. Top performing firms include features such as filter and sort options for paring down results. This month, one firm received an A, nine firms earned Bs, five Cs were awarded and two firms received Ds.


Since we last covered site search, little movement has occurred in the development of predictive search. Two firms continue to provide strong predictive offerings, with one breaking suggestions into different categories of results. 


A majority of firms examined can recognize misspellings, and 82% either suggest a correction or automatically search a likely intended spelling. Two firms automatically correct typos and also offer the ability to search for the alternate spelling.


Firms varied in their display of information about site resources. Fifty-nine percent of firms provide a pulled excerpt of text from the result to stand as a summary of content. Some firms do offer a formal summary, with 24% offering a description of a resource’s content.


Of sites we covered, 59% employ filters allowing advisors to limit searches by various topics and categories, which frequently include commentaries, fund documents and product information.


This month, we identified several best practices. Among them are sites that should consider offering a predictive search capability, as well as consider offering corrections when advisors misspell their queries. Additionally, top firms provide search filters and display results with clear summaries of content.


We uncovered the following key findings in our analysis:

  • 24% of firms employ some form of predictive search technology.
  • 59% of firms offer category filters.
  • Only three firms allow users to sort results by format.
  • 82% of firms recognize misspellings.
  • 76% of firms returned successful first-page results for “Referrals.”
  • 70% of firms returned successful first-page results for “General Obligation.”