Industry Budget Crunch Means More Focus on Functionality, “Bells and Whistles” Fading
New York, August 7, 2003 – Significant budget cuts notwithstanding, the retail Web sites of European asset management firms are improving, but could benefit from increased end user interactivity, revealed management consulting firm kasina today.
“The results of our third annual study indicate that budget constraints have asset managers looking for new ways to boost user satisfaction,” said Steven Miyao, chief executive officer of kasina. He notes that 13 percent of shareholders are currently registered to access their accounts online at top European fund sites, and expects this number to grow.
Miyao continued, “Although many of yesterday’s ‘bells and whistles’ are gone, we expect this to be positive for the retail investor who expects greater functionality from his or her asset management firm’s Web site.” He points to the increase in on-line advisor referral features, account applications, and e-mail availability as evidence of this trend.
kasina began tracking European firms’ Web sites in 2001. Once again, kasina surveyed European retail asset management companies with over $1 billion in assets under management, reviewing one Web site per firm, 207 in all. Web sites were evaluated based on a set of pre-determined metrics and on interviews with executives from the asset management companies. The resulting study highlights industry wide best practices for Web sites, and rates the top sites based on the five categories of branding, content, online services, usability and Web technology.
Based on its research, kasina says the “Top 10 European Web Sites – Mutual Funds” are from the following companies, listed in alphabetical order: Activest, ADIG Investment, Allianz, DIT, Folksam, Fidelity Investments, INVESCO PERPETUAL, Newton Fund Managers, SEB, and Standard Life Investments.
Additional findings include:
- The average budget for retail Web sites for 2003 is € 975,000, approximately 60 percent less than the average annual budget of € 2,491,071 in 2002.
- Ninety one percent of firms now allow e-mail to be sent through their site, a dramatic jump from the 63 percent of firms that had this functionality in 2002.
- Only 70 percent of firms provide up-to-date fund prices continually.
- While the number of firms that provide account applications online is still limited (36 percent), this feature is on the rise – only 23 percent of Web sites had this capability in 2002.
- The novelty of video technology is wearing off: 10 percent of firms used it on the Web in 2002, this year, usage dropped to only 6 percent of firms surveyed.
- Only 29 percent of sites offer a search engine, down from 41 percent in 2002.