Advisor Audit Shows Fund Firms Underperform in Digital Offerings

by on Jun 07, 2017

The financial advice industry is going through unprecedented disruption. Tighter regulations, shifting client demographics, new competitors, pricing pressures and technological innovations pose many challenges. Asset management firms can be valuable partners to advisors in this uncertain environment by providing web-based resources that support FAs in their prospecting, client communication, fund research and financial plan development.

Corporate Insight’s latest advisor survey investigates how FAs interact with fund firms and their advisor-focused digital platforms. Approximately 70% of respondents said they visit asset management firm sites at least a few times a week, with 38% saying they use them daily. Advisors, therefore, see value in the content offered on these websites.

Despite visiting fund issuer sites regularly, FAs perform a limited range of activities online. We presented respondents with a list of 13 activities commonly supported on fund websites and asked them to select the ones they had performed in the past year. Advisors indicated they had completed an average of three activities in the previous year, with fund research, calculators/planning tools and portfolio construction tools topping the ranking. Beyond such activities, advisor engagement with fund sites is relatively low.

We also asked respondents about their overall satisfaction with the advisor sites they routinely visit and found that 79% are satisfied or very satisfied. Satisfaction was lowest among Millennial advisors, who are more likely to be tech-savvy and to have high expectations when it comes to their digital experiences. These satisfaction figures are lower than what we have seen in other financial services industries. Our 2016 survey of retail investors, for example, found that 91% of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with their primary brokerage firms’ websites.

Financial advisors’ comparatively low engagement and satisfaction with the websites of asset management firms is linked to these sites’ relatively limited offerings. Corporate Insight’s Advisor Website Audit rates the advisor-focused sites of fund firms across more than 120 attributes to understand how effectively these sites serve FAs. Each firm receives a score on a scale of 1.00 (Poor) to 4.00 (Excellent). Our most recent audit of 16 major industry players found that firms averaged a score of 2.62 out of 4.00, and the top firm received a 2.84, both of which fall within the Fair score range. By comparison, five out of 17 firms in our Brokerage Website Audit received Good grades (i.e., 3.00 or higher), and the leading firm earned a 3.43.

Our audit indicates that even leading asset management firms have much work to do to deliver compelling digital experiences to financial advisors. By providing stronger advisor-focused digital platforms, firms can attract more traffic to their sites and thus increase the visibility of their fund products. To improve here, firms should include powerful fund comparison tools, offer broader practice management tools, incorporate algorithm-based technology into portfolio construction tools and diversify educational and thought leadership content.

For more information about our Advisor Website Audit, click here.