Watch mutual fund Web sites for a living, and small annoyances quickly become big ones. Here's a list of some features that I can definitely live without.
Worst Use of an Investing Legend
mug is prominently displayed on the
Fidelity home page. Click on it. Instead of some of Lynch's wisdom you get an ad for Fidelity's
Aggressive Growth fund, which Lynch never even managed when he was running money at the firm.
It's Usually Quiet in the Mountains
The first time you go to the
Janus site, the opening mountainscape and new age music are marginally pleasant. By the third time, you'll do anything to dodge this annoying greeting.
Low Fees, Lots of Talk
is a legend, a genius, a real hero of small investors. But how many of them really want to plow through more than two dozen of his speeches on the
Vanguard site? I'll take the abridged version.
Financial Calculator: Good. Crashing PC: Bad
I find that this is an Internet-wide problem: Firms want to offer investors easy-to-use interactive calculators. But oftentimes these omnipresent tools take an eternity to load or, worse, send your computer reeling. And I am certainly too impatient to wait for
T. Rowe Price's IRA worksheet. You might be better off doing the math yourself.
A Lame Use of Mediocre Graphics
Scrolling news tickers are fine, but not to announce something like a new municipal bond fund. Save it for something truly dramatic. The "Hot News" banner on the
Baron Funds Web site welcomes you to the new Baron Funds Web site. I would call that circular self-promotion.
Attention! Elvis Is Still Dead!
Some fund companies are obviously lax in updating the news on their sites. On the
Dreyfus site, for example, the most recent press release is about a month old, and the majority of the notices date back to last year. The War of the Roses was fresh news once, too.
And Another Thing
The actual fund information on the Dreyfus site is thin -- real thin. Under the descriptions of the funds, the firm doesn't even include a list of each fund's top-10 holdings. Is Dreyfus trying to save paper? Oh, that's right -- this is the
Seek and Ye Shall Not Find
You need a troop of Boy Scouts to help you navigate your way through some sites. The last time I tried to find something on
Charles Schwab's site, I spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to locate a particular research report and could never even figure out if it was indeed on the site.
See Dick Run. See Jane Buy Our Funds
It's hard to forget that many mutual fund Web sites are, above all, about marketing. But I'm tired of reading through pages of advertising-speak. "Knowledge breeds success," says
Invesco, under a piece titled "What Sets Us Apart." Well, that's insightful.
Feel free to share your own irritations -- or tell me about fund sites you like. Email me at
email@example.com, and include your full name.
Dear Dagen aims to provide general fund information. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell funds or other securities.