Survey Shows Investment Advisers Feel Closest to American Funds

Survey looks at relationships between advisers and fund providers.

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Feeling overwhelmed by mailings from your mutual funds? According to a new study, your investment adviser may have the same complaint. In a nod to quality over quantity, Cogent Research has found that fund providers don't need to overload advisers' inboxes in order to earn their appreciation.

According to the Massachusetts-based research group, advisers—who serve as the middlemen between providers and investors—feel the most connected to American Funds. Cogent also found that American reaches out to advisers less frequently than the industry average. On the other hand, John Hancock and Evergreen topped the charts for frequency of contacts but didn't crack the top-10 list of fund families to which advisers felt the closest.

[See Study Shows Investors Pass Over Expense Ratios.]

Overall, the survey showed that mutual fund providers contact their clients in the investment advisory world an average of seven times per month. American clocked in at five times, while John Hancock and Evergreen registered at 16. In terms of effectiveness, 24 percent of advisers indicated that of the funds they sell, their closest personal connection was with American; Franklin Templeton garnered 7 percent of the votes to come in second place.

Carrie Merrick, the author of the study, says she isn't surprised by American's dominance. "For them, it's more of the halo effect of their brand: their consistent performance, their . . . marketing materials, the story they tell," she says. "Advisers have an easy time selling their funds."

While the study wasn't able to identify a one-size-fits-all model for quality communications, it suggests that registered investment advisers prefer to hear from companies by E-mail and through webinars as opposed to phone calls and in-person visits.

A few tailored pitches can work better than a host of generic communications, according to Tony Ferreira, Cogent's managing director of wealth management practices. He says that the best communications will be "reflective of the adviser's business."

Corrected on 11/09/09: A previous version of this story reported that BlackRock topped the charts for frequency of contacts, when it was actually John Hancock.