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A site for sore eyes

As I write, the finishing touches are being made to the new Investment Management Association website. When I started my working life, such a concept would have been meaningless, yet today it is the main way in which investors, advisers and members can find out about our organisation.

A frequent complaint levelled at our old website was how hard it was to find things. With the new site we have tried to make this easier and the home page provides links to the most popular areas of the site, including recent press releases.

One area we have put a lot of effort into is displaying the IMA’s statistics and it was an interesting challenge to work out the best way in which to display the key metrics graphically. The sales figures and funds under management are given in clear form in the fund statistics area, together with a selection of other charts.

It is fascinating to see the change in assets being bought over the past 10 years represented visually. Back in 2000, equities accounted for more than 80 per cent of net retail sales so the bar on the chart for that year is largely blue. Of the remainder, the biggest chunk was bonds at around a sixth of the overall total, followed by balanced. The purple bar representing property did not show at all and the green bar for “other” was only just visible.

The much higher bar for 2009 net retail sales is dominated by the red section of bonds, with sales at four times the level achieved in 2000 and well over a third of the total.

Equities represented a smaller proportion of a much bigger cake at 28 per cent, with the actual value of equity sales in 2009 half that of 2000. The other asset classes are all more prominent than in 2000 and only money markets remained at a level too low to see on the graph. The new graphs for sales by asset clearly show the trend towards increasing diversification.

When you go into the funds under management graphs, you can see this change feeding through. Although equities are still the dominant asset class, this is less the case than it was in 2000.

The new website makes it much easier to find out the IMA’s views on policy issues. The policy and consultations section includes the guiding principles of the organisation as well as access to IMA responses to consultations, many of which are also the subject of press releases.

Two completely new elements are the commentary by chief executive Richard Saunders and current issues featured at the top of the home page. Another important element is the improvements we have made to the members’ part of the site, making key documents much quicker and easier to find.

Transparency and good communications are so important for financial services. I hope you will agree that our new website is a positive step in this direction.

Ginny Broad is head of communications at the Investment Management Association

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