Language barriers: 5 best and worst US fund websites

Fund firms including Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life Investments have “overly complex” websites in the US due to a lack of clear language, it is claimed.

Nearly all of the 85 asset management firms in a US study failed to meet “clear language” standards, according to VisibleThread, a Baltimore-based firm that advises on web content.

The firm said the issue was important due to pressure on financial service providers to be clear and concise. For example, the Plain Language Act of 2010 requires all US Federal agencies to communicate clearly.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission also issued a plain English handbook back in 1998.

The firm analised up to 100 pages on each of the 85 websites using four metrics: readability, use of passive language, long sentences and “word complexity density”.

Only one website achieved the target readability score of 60.

“Long sentences abound on asset management websites”, the firm said. On some websites, 50% of the sentences contained more than 25 words. Only one website met the target score of 5%.

Fergal McGovern, Visible Thread’s chief executive, said: “The asset management sector has been guilty of using confusing and overly complex language for many years.”

Saying that asset managers had “largely ignored good practice”, McGovern added: “They continue to confuse website visitors and repel potential customers.”

VisibleThread said in its ‘2016 Asset Management Website Clarity Index’ report that, in many cases, improving only one of the four key areas – such as using more active sentences – will greatly affect overall readability.

The rankings for firms with best and worst scores are:

The top 5 asset management firms were:
1. Federated Investors
2. DIAM International
3. Boston Partners
4. Putnam investments
5. Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec

The bottom 5 asset management firms were:
81. Goldman Sachs Asset Management Int.
82. Aberdeen Asset Management
83. Nomura Asset Management
84. Manulife Asset Management
85. Standard Life Investments

©2016 funds europe

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