DALBAR Recognizes the Best Web Sites in the Mutual Fund Industry

Fidelity, American Century and New York Life Earn ‘Excellent’ Designation; Sites Begin Offering More Customized Features

(Boston, MA. — August 20, 2004) Fidelity Investments, American Century and New York Life are best at supporting the needs of their online customers, according to DALBAR’s latest quarterly ranking of Mutual Fund Web sites. These three sites were the only ones out of over 200 Web sites evaluated to earn DALBAR’s highest honor, the ‘Excellent’ Web site designation.

In addition to Fidelity’s continued excellence, American Century joins Fidelity in offering an excellent Consumer Web site. New York Life delivers an excellent Web site for Financial Professionals.

Singled Out: Movers & Shakers in the Second Quarter

A number of sites made great strides in second quarter, 2004. Thrivent Financial’s new single sign-on feature, which gives users access to multiple sections of the site without having to remember multiple passwords, propelled their consumer Web site into the Top 10 for the first time. Northern Funds made the largest gain in the second quarter (up 21 spots to 17th) thanks to multiple enhancements including a new “Market Snapshot” section and the ability for consumers to receive transaction confirmations and access performance data via a wireless device.

Among Web sites for financial professionals, four new firms joined the Top 10 — American Funds, Van Kampen, Pioneer Funds and Calvert Funds. Calvert Funds now offers a series of fund comparison and search tools that enable professionals to conduct customized analysis of any combination of funds.

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

Web Site Ranking Consumer Financial Professional
#1 Fidelity* NYLIM MainStay Funds*
#2 American Century OppenheimerFunds
#3 Strong Franklin Templeton
#4 Salomon Smith Barney American Funds
#5 Franklin Templeton AIM Investments

*Earns Dalbar’s ‘Excellent’ designation.

Trend: Improved Customization Features

More Mutual Fund companies are offering Web sites that deliver improved customization capabilities to users. Increased customization helps reduce the barriers typically faced by both consumers and financial professionals when taking action on their account(s). Users are empowered to take advantage of the Web in a way that mimics their offline behavior, which is essential for encouraging online account management. Some of the highlights of new customization features observed in the second quarter include:

  • The new Fidelity Toolbar from Fidelity Investments. The Toolbar provides consumers with the ability to access customized financial news, research and analysis;
  • The Hartford enhanced the account access section of their financial professional Web site with new features that enable financial advisors the ability to give their assistants access to client information. Advisors may now customize what functions their assistants can access on the site — everything from viewing account information to executing transactions.

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.