Fund comparison tools serve as an essential component of the overall investment research process, granting advisors the ability to easily analyze and differentiate between a wide scope of offerings. Such services streamline the otherwise time-consuming practice of visiting each product’s individual profile page, helping to determine benefits and drawbacks of certain funds more easily against similar options. In doing so, advisors can efficiently construct client portfolios representative of client goals and risk tolerances.

Corporate Insight’s industry experts will host a webinar on April 25, presenting key insights from our recent report on various fund comparison tools offered by 10 firms in our Asset Management Monitor – Advisor coverage set. The webinar will include a detailed exploration of such offerings, highlighting best practices, and provide an opportunity for curious registrants to ask follow-up questions.

Below we offer a brief preview of some best practices identified by our Asset Management and Digital Advice research team that will be explored further in the webinar.

Include third-party funds as comparison options and suggest similar funds during tool input to establish advisor trust in proprietary products

Listing only proprietary products on fund comparison tools can be an effective approach for marketing firm offerings. However it can severely limit tool value, driving advisors away from the tool entirely. Portfolio construction requires product comparison across several fund families for advisors to confidently decide whether certain funds are satisfactory replacements for clients’ existing investments. Therefore, firms should grant advisors the ability to differentiate between both proprietary and third-party funds when using firm fund comparison tools. Firms that provide such listings tend to establish more trust with advisors, as cross-firm comparisons demonstrate confidence in how proprietary products will measure up against other offerings.

One way to balance usability and promotion is to suggest funds similar to the advisor’s selection, including proprietary funds. This allows for a broader comparison while still highlighting firm products when appropriate. Firms can take this a step further and also suggest similar third-party funds, to establish their comparison tool as a trusted resource with advisors. Our report found that tools from John Hancock and Putnam both recommend third-party funds.

This screenshot from Putnam shows its FundVisualizer Tool on the Explore Page
Putnam FundVisualizer Tool Explore Page

Allow advisors to customize a client-ready report that includes data visualizations

To effectively highlight key fund differences and model the value of firm services, firms should allow advisors to generate customizable reports for clients. By granting advisors the ability to decide which outputs and analysis are included in client-ready reports, the firm guarantees that fund data is personalized to best cater to the specific needs of various clients. Such outputs should include easy-to-read charts and graphs rather than simple tables to further engagement and provide a more coherent way of understanding findings.

Our report found several leaders in this area. J.P. Morgan’s Investment Comparison tool, for example, supports the ability to generate a client-ready report of the comparison results, letting advisors customize it with their name, firm and client name as well as upload their own cover image or firm logo. The tool also stands out for allowing advisors to tailor the report to their client’s individual interests or concerns by selecting which analyses to include in the PDF. Advisors can also reorganize sections by dragging them into their desired order, granting advisors control over which information to highlight and share with clients.

This screenshot shows J.P. Morgan's client report generation tool
J.P. Morgan Client Report Generation

For more, register for our upcoming Webinar. Or to learn more about our subscription research into the user experience provided by asset management firms, contact us about our Asset Management Monitor.

Deirdre Kelshaw

Deirdre Kelshaw is an Analyst on CI's asset management team.