kasina Announces “Top Twenty Sites – Mutual Funds”

Addition of new features has leveled off; top firms now emphasize ease of use and building usage

NEW YORK, January 15, 2004 – kasina, a strategic consulting firm for the financial services industry, today announced the release of findings from its 7th annual study on the leading retail mutual fund Web sites � �Top 20 Web Sites�Mutual Funds.�

Widely recognized as the industry’s most authoritative study of the e-business initiatives of asset management companies, this year�s review included an evaluation of the 217 mutual fund company Web sites from U.S. asset management firms with over $1 billion in assets under management, based on five categories: branding, content, online services, usability, and Web technology. Along with naming the Top 20, kasina also identified the �Top 10 Web Sites � Small Fund Firms� (top sites from firms with $1 � 10 billion in U.S. mutual fund assets under management).

�Following several years of building out their Web sites, the industry leaders have for the moment slowed the introduction of new content, services, and features to their Web sites, choosing instead to concentrate on makings their sites easier to use and on increasing usage,� said Steven Miyao, chief executive officer at kasina. �The rest of the industry is busy working to catch up to the service level put in place by the leaders.�

For the top firms, the new challenge is finding ways to make it easier for clients to use the existing Web-based tools, the kasina study found. In some instances, this may require repackaging content and refining Web site navigation. �Many industry leaders have redesigned aspects of their Web sites, such as the homepage, while others, such as Strong, have added chat functionality and other service tools in an effort to facilitate the sales process,� said Miyao. �Going forward, we expect to see additional steps designed to increase cross- and up-selling activity.�

A free summary report of kasina�s study is available at www.kasina.com. A list of the firms recognized in kasina�s study follow.

The 2003 “Top 20 Web Sites – Mutual Funds” (alphabetically)

  • AIM Investments – www.aiminvestments.com
  • Alliance Capital – www.alliancecapital.com
  • American Century Investments – www.americancentury.com
  • Ariel Mutual Funds – www.arielmutualfunds.com
  • Armada Funds – www.armadafunds.com
  • Charles Schwab & Co. – www.schwab.com
  • Columbia Management Group – www.columbiafunds.com
  • E*TRADE Financial – www.etrade.com
  • Fidelity Investments – www.fidelity.com
  • Franklin Templeton Investments – www.franklintempleton.com
  • Mainstay Funds – www.mainstayfunds.com
  • MFS Investment Management – www.mfs.com
  • OppenheimerFunds – www.oppenheimerfunds.com
  • PBHG Funds – www.pbhgfunds.com
  • Putnam Investments – www.putnam.com
  • Strong Investments – www.strong.com
  • T. Rowe Price – www.troweprice.com
  • The Vanguard Group – www.vanguard.com
  • Wells Fargo Funds – www.wellsfargofunds.com
  • Westcore Funds – www.westcore.com

The 2003 “Top 10 Web Sites – Small Fund Firms” (alphabetically)

  • ABN AMRO Asset Management – www.abnamrofunds-usa.com
  • Ariel Mutual Funds – www.arielmutualfunds.com
  • Calvert – www.calvert.com
  • Founders Asset Management – www.founders.com
  • Gabelli Asset Management – www.gabelli.com
  • PBHG Funds – www.pbhgfunds.com
  • Royce Funds – www.roycefunds.com
  • RS Investments – www.rsinvestments.com
  • Sentinel Funds – www.sentinelfunds.com
  • Westcore Funds – www.westcore.com