The funds management industry is not known as a rapid adopter of new technologies. It was slow to appreciate the power of the internet as a marketing tool and as a way to streamline backoffice and other processes. After a flurry of activity in the late 1990s, when some managers mistakenly believed that a whole new class of inves­tors was willing to buy retail managed funds online, without advice, develop­ment slowed. The Y2K red herring diverted time and resources, slowing genuine development further.

The tech bubble bursting in 2001 did not help matters either. But since then the industry has gradually improved its use of the inter­net both for marketing and operational efficiency, although it has still, arguably, got a long way to go to match other related industries, notably banking. And smaller players, such as individual super funds and financial planning groups, are probably on aver­age well behind the big institutions in making the internet work for them. A new book by an Australian web designer, Rich Evans, could prove useful to those smaller organisations, or to the larger ones who want to have a reality check on their fundamental aims with internet usage.

Click Here is a business person’s guide, full of check lists and basic advice on building the most appropriate web site for a business’s goals. The theme of simplicity permeates the book. Spinning logos and time-consuming animations are out. Ease of use is in. Going hand in glove with ease of use is speed of use. In this regard, cus­tomers are becoming more demanding and, in a competitive industry such as funds management, more frustrated by anything which delays gratification.

Evans says that search engine evolution will have a big impact on the effectiveness of web sites. For instance Google launched an application called SearchWiki last No­vember, which allows users to customise search results and store relevant infor­mation. Users can re-rank, delete, add or comment on search results in order to build their own information base. The results are displayed every time they do that search and can be shared with other users.

Evans predicts that this new tech­nology will be integrated in all web sites in future, which will present challenges from a marketing perspective. Custom­ers could potentially be shown the door before they have a chance to be engaged by the content. The book is not a step-by-step guide on how to build a web site but rather a step-by-step guide on what to think about before and during the process as well as ongoing management.

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