November 2015: Advisor Site Test Drives Public Access to Advisor Content & Registration

The November Mutual Fund Monitor – Advisor Report evaluates all content and materials that are public before the login on advisor-facing websites. The competitive task of getting financial professionals to visit and read content on advisor websites consistently drives many fund firms to open up more content to the public. The advantages of allowing advisors to view appropriate resources overshadow the rationale for restriction. Accessible content will more likely entice users to return to the site frequently. When we last examined this topic in 2013, four firms (22% of the coverage group at the time) were completely restricted to unregistered users. Now only one firm prohibits unregistered viewers from accessing its advisor website.

Fund firms use various methods to highlight restricted content. Most firms (73%) employ padlock icons for labeling private resources, while others use key or shield icons to denote blocked items. Padlock icons and preview pages may entice views to register, but less obstructive options can allow access to some material and spark interest in viewing the rest of it. We found that 57% of firms promote the benefits of registration. Two firms make strong cases for registering with slide show lightboxes integrated into the registration process.

Certain features create a quick login process for returning advisors. Social media logins help streamline navigation procedures for registered professionals by eliminating the need to remember a username or password. Five firms allow advisors to log in with their LinkedIn credentials, whereas in 2013 only one did. A single firm also allows advisors to log in with their Facebook and Google+ handles. Adding direct input fields on the homepage is another way to streamline the login process, a method which 31% of firms employ. Our report serves as a catalogue of the current landscape; therefore, no grades were distributed. We considered the following parameters in our analysis:    

  • Preview and promotion of content
  • Restricted versus public content
  • Registration and login processes

Each firm offers different registration approaches, with varying techniques for verifying and permitting individuals to register. 68% of firms place ubiquitous register links on their respective homepages, headers or both. We found 78% of firms ask registrants for their name, 68% request a company name, 15% ask for CRD numbers and 10% for AE numbers. Only one firm integrates a CRD number lookup option into its registration process.