Welcome to Pensions & Investments' guide to the winners of P&I's second annual Best of the Web awards.
On this page and the next, you'll learn what makes these sites head and shoulders above the rest in the money management business. Among the common threads: a high level of educational content; strong functionality; and ease of use.
Another common factor among the top sites is change. Most have been revised or revamped at least once in the past year, and more upgrades are in the works.
On the defined contribution side, all the winning websites offer investment advice or specific portfolio planning as a standard feature. While the top defined benefit websites don't contain as many bells and whistles as the defined contribution sites, judges found both sets had many of the same attributes - such as ease of use.
Last year most of the winning managers were adding or were about to add investment advice to their employee benefit websites. This year's trend is toward account integration, or the consolidation of all account information on a single page.
Judges gave each website a numeric score. Judging criteria focused on content, investment concepts, personalization, design and ease of use. Judges did not score the sites of firms with which they have professional connections.
Sponsors of the top sites seem to embrace the Internet as a vital means of providing essential financial information. Yet they do not believe the Internet is the end game for delivering financial services to participants. Rather, they tend to view their sites as tools - big and costly, but tools nonetheless - in their quest to educate, inform and, ultimately, sell products and services.