Similar to Calvert Investment’s focus on socially responsible investing, previously covered in this series, Ariel Investments also differentiates itself by serving a niche area of the mutual fund market. Ariel Investments deals exclusively in long-term, value-oriented investments and positions its small size (83 employees) and product line (14 funds) as a more personable investment experience. Reflecting its size and approach, the firm manages approximately $5 billion in assets and its website features numerous visual references to The Tortoise and the Hair, including the firm’s adopted motto, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Ariel Investment’s Company Motto
Ariel’s homepage focuses on key areas of the website and offers easy access to investment information and materials. The left-most column includes the login fields as well as information for opening new accounts or ordering investment kits, while the right-hand column contains daily fund performance figures. The two center columns offer new commentaries and media appearance by Ariel staff.
Ariel Investments Homepage
The firm’s fund profiles are spread across six sections, providing information on fund investment philosophy and processes, performance, fund characteristics such as sector weight and holdings, as well as fund commentaries. The information provided in the fund profiles combines to present a detailed picture of the fund at hand, but the heavy text presentation and lack of charts or graphics places Ariel’s profiles slightly behind the industry curve.
Ariel Fund Profiles
Most of the Ariel’s commentaries are fund specific, but the firm stands out in the degree to which is promotes its personnel as thought leaders, both on the website itself and in outside media. President Mellody Hobson and CEO/CIO John W. Rogers are regular fixtures on ABC, CNBC, and Bloomberg programs, as well as in The Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise, among other publications. Most of Ariel’s non-fund commentaries come in the form of replays and reprints of these appearances.
Ariel Investments presents an interesting case study in the asset management landscape. Its website has its charms and strengths, but lacks the hypothetical growth charts, allocation graphs and rich media elements common to better websites in the industry. While including these features would make Ariel’s online experience more competitive, the current site does not noticeably suffer from their absence. In addition, the firm’s thought leadership promotion is top-notch and affords the company a level of exposure and market importance that exceed its size.