‘Prehistoric’ fund websites disappoint on Covid-19 content

‘Prehistoric’ fund websites disappoint on Covid-19 content

From Ignites Europe with Dawn Cowie 

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Asset managers with “prehistoric” websites are missing an opportunity to help their clients through the coronavirus crisis.

Many firms make little or no reference to the pandemic on the home page of their websites, which leaves clients searching for content or going elsewhere for advice, say web experts.

Other firms have prioritised content about the pandemic, but it is often too research driven, rather than focused on the needs of clients. 

Kate Shaw, chief executive officer of brand and communications agency Living Group, says some firms with good websites, such as Schroders and BlackRock, have failed “to embrace the opportunity”.

“Looking at Schroders’ website you could almost miss that there is anything going on,” says Ms Shaw, who does an annual rating of asset managers’ web content aimed at financial advisers. 

BlackRock’s site is dominated by information about sustainable investment but lacks a specific Covid-19 area, which makes it hard to find guidance on the crisis, she says.

By contrast, Russell Investments has a link to a dedicated Covid-19 area, titled “Managing through market volatility”, at the top of the home page of its website. 

Other firms with accessible content include Fidelity Investments, Columbia Threadneedle, BNY Mellon Investment Management, Lazard Asset Management and Standard Life Aberdeen.

Ms Shaw says the Russell Investments site also stands out because it strikes the right tone. 

The content anticipates the influx of client calls to financial advisers, and offers advice on how to reassure them and how to start a conversation, she says.

“Some big players fall into the trap of research-driven content,” she says, focusing mainly on the impact of the crisis on the economy and volatility in the market.

What is missing is “a human tone of voice”, she says.

The other danger with a research-driven approach is that there is so much digital content around that financial advisers do not have time for a “long read”

“We are consuming more content but we have a shorter attention span,” says Ms Shaw, which means firms should focus on short reads in blog format and more infographics.

Standard Life Aberdeen has been using a digital “readability” tool provided by Visible Thread to test and score its Covid-19 content for clarity, accessibility and common tone of voice. 

When the pandemic hit, the firm created a dedicated Covid-19 area on its website, which is flagged at the top of the home page. 

Fergal McGovern, CEO of Visible Thread, says the firm has seen a massive spike in engagement from clients in this area, measured by time on the site.

Usually the firm considers one-minute “dwell time” on a page to be a good sign of engagement, but users have been spending up to eight minutes on the best-performing Covid-19 articles, says Mr McGovern.

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