Fidelity Remains the Only Firm to Earn Excellent Designation, but Guardian and Armada Funds Among Many to Deliver Big Gains

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(Boston, MA. � June 9, 2004) Fidelity Investments continues to lead the financial services industry in how to best support their online customers, according to Dalbar�s latest quarterly ranking of financial services Web sites. Fidelity�s site was the only one of over 200 Web sites evaluated to earn Dalbar�s highest honor, the �Excellent� Web site designation.

Dalbar�s first quarter, 2004 WebMonitor rankings include a new criteria � �Behavior Centric support�. Dalbar has determined that the most effective Web sites are those offering online solutions that address customers� offline behaviors and concerns � answering the question �What do customers do offline?� The introduction of Behavior Centric support significantly impacted the first quarter rankings by acknowledging sites with more advanced features like Vanguard�s Mutual Fund consumer site, which received one of the highest scores in Behavior Centric support for offering features such as an Application Wizard and a troubleshooting guide for online statements.

First Quarter Rankings, 2004

In addition to Fidelity continuing to demonstrate excellence, other companies made great strides in first quarter, 2004. The Armada Funds� consumer site, which debuted a �Fund Focus� section and new information about online security, improved 23 spots to make the Top 25 for the first time. Four other mutual fund consumer sites � including Vanguard, NYLIM MainStay Funds, The Hartford, and TIAA-CREF – entered the Top 10 with noticeable gains.

Guardian, which redesigned their entire Web site, improved their ranking across all channels � highlighted by advancing 15 ranks with their Life Insurance & Annuity consumer site.

Top-ranked Web sites as of the end of first quarter, 2004 are:

Web Site Ranking Mutual Fund Consumer Mutual Fund Financial Professional Life Insurance & Annuity Consumer Life Insurance & Annuity Financial Professional
#1 Fidelity* NYLIM MainStay Fidelity* The Hartford
#2 American Century Franklin Templeton New York Life Lincoln Life
#3 Strong Lincoln Financial TIAA-CREF MainStay Annuities
#4 T. Rowe Price AIM Lincoln Life Allstate Financial
#5 Franklin Templeton Oppenheimer Funds Prudential Financial MassMutual

*Earns Dalbar�s �Excellent� designation.

More Practice Management Tools for Financial Professionals

Mutual Fund and Life Insurance & Annuity companies continue to recognize the growing importance of leveraging the Web to support financial professionals. Many sites promote features designed to help financial professionals build their business, like

  • Online mentoring programs that bring professionals together to discuss industry developments and to share the latest techniques

  • Asset allocation tools that enables financial professionals to determine their clients’ optimal asset class mixture by leveraging their knowledge of their clients’ risk profile.

The complete WebMonitor Mutual Fund and Life Insurance & Annuity quarterly updates for First Quarter, 2004, are available from Dalbar at WebMonitor Quarterly Rankings

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.