November 2014: Advisor Product Profile Pages

Posted on December 12, 2014

The November 2014 Advisor Monitor Report examines the product profile pages offered by our coverage firms, examining the variety, depth and accessibility of the information therein. All 19 firms in our coverage group feature fund product pages, with a broad range of quality and cohesive designs among them. We awarded five A-grades to firms with well-organized and feature-rich profile pages, along with 11 Bs to firms with strong, but not leading resources. Three Cs were awarded to firms with dated, static or ineffective content. Specifically, this report looked at the following criteria:

  • Information on fund profile pages
  • Tools and graphics offered
  • Content supporting client-facing needs

Information on a fund profile page is only useful if users can easily locate and understand the whole picture that the profile aims to paint for a given product. We found several examples of firms with over-complicated profile pages that segment their information too finely, presenting only small bits of information in multiple areas that could easily be consolidated into fewer, more effective pages. Conversely, the best product pages in this report make efficient use of space and information. Putnam’s profiles, for example, feature only four pages (as opposed to Federated’s eight) and rely on smart graphs and charts to relay much of its content.

We observed an interesting range of interactive tools and graphics, including advisor-focused value added features and more general performance analysis. Two firms offer two very strong, very different fund comparison tools that provide an extra layer of detail over the main fund profile. Most firms offer the popular Hypothetical Growth of $10,000 chart, but some firms are much more creative with it than their competitors. Two firms boast impressive charts with intuitive customization options, while another two firms (among others) offer static and relatively undetailed charts that nominally track the same information.

In addition, we noted a surprising lack of content and tools that specifically supports the financial advisor’s experience and client-facing needs. Several firms offer standardized Morningstar hypothetical tools, but these are only promoted on fund profile pages; in actual execution they are a separate entity. One firm bridges this gap by integrating its similar FundVisualizer tool into a helpful module on each fund’s product page. Sometimes, though, the best solutions are the simplest. One firm includes simple instructions for advisors on each fund profile, highlighting the fund’s key selling points and explaining how it can better discuss the fund with clients.

We discovered the following key findings in our analysis:

  • All firms summarize average annual returns, while 89% include hypothetical growth of $10k charts.
  • Ninety-five percent display daily NAV changes.
  • Fifty-two percent show a fund’s alpha measure, while 74% display beta.
  • Eighty-four percent include Morningstar ratings and 37% feature Lipper rankings.
  • All firms disclose expense ratios, but only 63% highlight sales charges.