DALBAR Recognizes the Best Web Sites in Financial Services

Only Three Firms Industry-Wide Achieve Web Site Excellence

(Boston, MA. – February 24, 2004) Industry leaders AIM, Fidelity, and Hartford know best how to support their customers online, according to DALBAR�s latest quarterly ranking of financial services Web sites. These firms were only three of over 200 Web sites evaluated to earn DALBAR�s highest honor, the �Excellent� Web site designation.

Although individual Web sites may shine, the quality of Web support provided to customers varies significantly industry-wide.

Mutual Fund Sites Zone in on Investor Needs

  • The vast majority of mutual fund Web sites have successfully incorporated Web functions that address investors� most frequent online destinations: 1) account access and management, 2) performance updates, and 3) statement review.

  • Of over 70 mutual fund consumer Web sites reviewed, 99% report on funds� performance, 88% allow account access and management, 75% allow investors to execute transactions, and 65% provide access to statements.

Web Sites for Life Insurance and Annuity Financial Professionals Miss the Mark

  • While there are some outstanding Web sites offered to life insurance and annuity financial professionals, too many lack the key Web features necessary to support the professional online.

  • Only one-quarter of Web sites reviewed allow the professional to execute transactions for the client, and less than half allow the professional to view a client statement.

Web Sites Overlook Key Opportunities to Support Financial Professionals

  • Financial professionals overwhelmingly agree that earning continuing education credits is the aspect of their business that they disliked most and that is overly time consuming. Firms would be smart to provide a Web site that makes this process easier for them. Today only 32% of life insurance/annuity sites and only 6% of mutual fund sites allow financial professionals to register for classes online.

  • Although monitoring client accounts is the #1 reason for professionals to go online, less than 5% of firms use their Web site to proactively alert professionals of client-initiated activity.

  • Financial professionals rely on Web sites to conduct product research, analysis, and comparison, yet less than one-quarter of financial professional sites offer product comparison tools.

More of the Best Web Sites

The following chart lists DALBAR�s top ranked Web sites as of the end of 4thquarter, 2003. These sites excel at adapting customers� needs, behaviors, and concerns to an online method that is complete, current, consistent, and easy to use.

Top Ranked Web Sites Mutual Fund Consumer Mutual Fund Financial Professional Life Insurance & Annuity Consumer Life Insurance & Annuity Financial Professional
#1 Fidelity* AIM* Fidelity* The Hartford*
#2 Strong Franklin Templeton New York Life Lincoln Life
#3 American Century OppenheimerFunds Thrivent Financial Nationwide
#4 AIM Pioneer Lincoln Life Mainstay
#5 T. Rowe Price Putnam The Hartford American Skandia

*Earns DALBAR�s �Excellent� designation.

DALBAR, Inc., the nation�s leading financial-services market research firm, is committed to raising the standards of excellence in the financial-services industry. With offices in both the US and Canada, DALBAR develops standards for, and provides research, ratings, and rankings of intangible factors to the mutual fund, broker/dealer, discount brokerage, life insurance, and banking industries. They include investor behavior, customer satisfaction, service quality, communications, Internet services, and financial-professional ratings.