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Television tells us many things that the printed page can&#39t. Seeing your fund manager in the flesh explaining his bottomquartile performance gives another window into whether you have confidence in his ability to turn things round over the next year.

A number of online operations are targeting IFAs with a new information service offering just this service. Aware that some of us would rather sit in front of a screen being told what is happening rather than read a page ourselves, information providers are looking at new ways of streaming information in a way that is easy to digest and adds a new dimension to our understanding of the people we are doing business with.

The Money Channel was borne on high hopes for a dedicated retail sound and vision channel but since its demise people wanting to bring information to the retail financial services sector have had to rethink the business model.

At least two companies, Keydata and Cantos, have opted for the online video clip model, streaming regularly updated financial services interviews and reports over the web to viewers&#39 computer terminals, allowing IFAs, analysts and consumers a closer look at the people handling their money. Citywire also has a more limited online video interview but says it is looking to roll out more regular content in the new year.

Many IFAs will be familiar with Keydata but its Keydata TV service is ancillary to a CD version sent out every month. Keydata films 25 to 30 interviews a month with fund managers and senior executives from the financial services sector. IFAs can register for the free CD and online service, with 12,000 RIs currently receiving them.

This month&#39s selection of clips on Keydata TV include interviews with Invesco Perpetual chief executive officer Bob Yerbury, JP Morgan Fleming investment director Chris Tracey and Old Mutual North American Trust fund manager David Ross.

Keydata UK director Hugo Huggett, who carries out many of the interviews, says: “Our online archive of interviews with fund managers means you can look at what Gartmore Investment Management fund manager Roger Guy said two weeks ago and compare it with what he said a year ago.”

Cantos is another online video clip service aiming to bring the voice of the boardroom of the UK&#39s top companies to investors and analysts. Cantos&#39s service is principally directed towards institutional fund managers and analysts but will be of value to IFAs advising the more sophisticated investor who is making his own stock selections.

Cantos&#39s gets indepth interviews with leading figures that come out at the time of major industry announcements. Rec-ent interviews have included J Sainsbury group chief executive Sir Peter Davies the day after its results were published, the chief executives of P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean on the day of the announcement of their merger and inco-ming Invensys chief executive Rick Haythornthwaite just after the announcement of his appointment.

Cantos Communications marketing director Rosie Cath-erwood says: “We are representative of the corporate voice in the market. We interview in advance of announcements so the information can become available minutes afterwards. But this is not a place to compare pensions and Isas – this is very much on the equities side.”

We asked IFAs to roadtest the two services to see how they compared in terms of ease of use, quality and breadth of content, regularity of updates and appropriateness for clients.

Best Advice Financial Planning senior financial consultant Mike Rothman says: “You need to be lightly techy-minded to access the video interviews on these sites. Keydata was slightly easier to access and log into although I did need my SIB number.

“The interviews on Keydata use quite a lot of investment jargon. IFAs can understand it no problem but whether a client will understand it dep-ends on their level of sophistication. Those clients who play the markets would find it a useful tool.”

Chambers Morgan James director Marlene Shalton has an ISDN connection to her office computer but still found using the sites not as straightforward as she had hoped.

Shalton says: “Keydata was easy enough to use once I had installed the Media Player software onto my computer, which took around 15 minutes. They had six fund manager interviews available and I got to see two of them fairly quickly but the voice did stop working on occasions. I like the idea of video sites because you can listen and work at the same time.”

Shalton found the Cantos site easier to use than the Keydata one but less use to her directly as she is more interested in managed funds rather than investing directly.

She says: “If you have cli-ents who are investing directly, then it is a useful site. In the future, I can see both these sites running alongside other online data sources we use such as FT MarketWatch.”

Unlike Shalton, Rothman found more technological difficulty with Cantos but was impressed with the content.

He says: “Cantos was a more complex site to use. Its interviews were longer but they were broken into sections, so you could listen to the bits you wanted to without having to listen to the whole thing.

“It used more understandable phrases and less jargon than Keydata but on the other hand the people that were interviewed were very high-level figures. I can see it developing into a very good tool in the future and I will be happy to use it again.”

Both sites clearly fill different needs and approach the viewer in different ways and, depending on your type of practice and the profile of your clients, you may want to check them both out to see what they can do for you.

Depending on your own ease of use of the web, you might find the sites easy or daunting but these information streams, now in their infancy, look set to increase in influence and usefulness as the technology that supports them develops.

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