BOSTON - State Street Global Advisors is getting about 10,000 hits per month on streaming videos available on its recently relaunched website.
Only a few money managers have added videos produced for institutional investors to their websites in the past year, said Steven Miyao, chief executive officer of kasina LLC, New York, a money manager consultant. The others are Fidelity Management Trust Co., Boston; Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, New York; and Barclays Global Investors, San Francisco, he said.
State Street has the largest quantity of videos with the best production values, Mr. Miyao added.
State Street added 130 videos with market commentary and outlook, essays, research and information on investment products to its website in September, said Peter Bennett, managing director of SSgA Interactive.
The videos were added to ensure that, "at the appropriate frequency, the market leaders say what is going on," said Mr. Bennett. Approximately 80% of the videos are available to the general public, he said; the others, password-protected and available to clients only, detail research projects undertaken by the company.
The newly revamped www.ssga.com includes commentary from top State Street executives such as Alan Brown, chief investment officer; Ned Riley, chief investment strategist; Adele Kohler, principal and portfolio manager; and Patrick Donnelley, principal of The Tuckerman Group, State Street's real estate investment division. Other State Street portfolio managers, product engineers, managing directors and relationship managers appear in different videos.
Mr. Brown tapes a new segment every month, said Mr. Bennett. Topics covered include active equities, fixed income, currency markets and indexed equities.
Approximately 18 months ago, Mr. Bennett suggested the idea of adding streaming video content to State Street's website. "We weren't doing enough to represent the breadth and the depths of the talent (of investment professionals)." The new technology, Mr. Bennett said, presents information "in an easier, more navigable site."
At the time, he viewed streaming video as a new technology and felt the company should take advantage of it. However, he did not want to introduce streaming video "in a marketing, gimmicky way."
The production of the videos has not been costly or time-consuming, said Mr. Bennett. The time between the text being completed and its being available on the website has been as low as three hours, he said. The Boston office houses a studio where segments are filmed. The videos average five and six minutes, said Mr. Bennett. The firm's sole video production employee then adds any necessary graphics and divides each video into chapters, so viewers can skip to those portions of the video they want to watch.
Video fills gap
State Street has not faced difficulty in getting its investment professionals to appear on camera, said Mr. Bennett. "We have a problem with more people wanting to do it," he said. When an executive has chosen not to be filmed, a suitable replacement has been found, he said.
"My instinct would suggest ... it's something beneficial," said Jeb Doggett, managing director for BARRA Strategic Consulting Group, a money manager consulting firm, Darien, Conn. He added that clients who cannot meet personally with State Street officials may find video will partially fill the gap.
But Mr. Doggett cautioned: "Because it is generic, the client may not find it as useful ... as a one-on-one or a phone conversation." He said video cannot become the sole channel of dialogue between the client and the manager.
There's also the problem of "information overload," said Joseph Nankof, managing director of pension consultant BARRA Rogers Casey, also in Darien, Conn.
Investment manager websites "are viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism by institutional investors," Mr. Nankof said.
He finds that clients he works with prefer online portals run by third parties because of their objectivity.
Mr. Nankof said the real value added would be for a money manager to add research materials to websites.
"[There is] a dearth of information on research," he said.