June 2014: Customer Service

The June 2014 Mutual Fund MonitorAdvisor Report examines the various risk management resources, commentaries and insights offered by advisor-focused asset management firms. Our analysis included 18 of our 19 coverage firms; iShares was the only firm to not offer any relevant content. In conducting our research, we sought to gain an overall understanding of each firm’s risk resources, focusing on their accessibility and location, their content and the types of resources offered. We reviewed risk management resources using the following key criteria:

  • Accessibility and Location
  • Content
  • Types of Resources

This is the first time we addressed this topic in a monthly report. Our methodology focused on gaining a comprehensive overview of each firm’s risk resources, which are highly subjective to each firm’s investment products, organizational makeup and asset focus.


Although 18 of our 19 coverage firms offer risk management resources, only five firms offer a centralized site location for this content. Two firms are standout examples in this regard, providing reliable locations where advisors can expect to find regularly updated content. One third of firms highlight the organization and the members of their respective risk management teams, providing advisors with a more tangible reference point when considering a firm’s broader risk management content.


Overall, proprietary risk technology receives relatively little attention, with only three firms devoting any attention to the specific software used in risk calculations. One firm did the most in this area, offering an advisor-only document that illustrates how the firm’s in-house software can help advisors manage risk in high net-worth portfolios. Another firm makes a point to highlight the third-party software it utilizes.


As the topics of risk and market volatility are so closely linked, especially in investors’ minds, we found numerous commentaries and resources aimed at reassuring worried clients. Four firms directly address how the financial crisis of 2008 – 2009 still affects investors’ confidence and market outlooks, with the aim of helping advisors better understand their clients’ points of view towards their services. Other firms include commentary and white papers that demonstrate historical facts and figures about down-market periods so that advisors can reassure nervous investors that bear markets will eventually turn around, which presents its own selection of risks and opportunities.


We discovered the following key findings in our analysis:

  • Thirty-three percent of firms profile their internal risk management teams.
  • Thirty-three percent includes a glossary of risk terminology.
  • Fifty-percent provide advisor-only materials, while 61% offer client-ready resources.
  • Thirty-nine percent offer historical discussions of risk analysis.
  • Seventeen percent discuss a proprietary risk management tool or system.