DALBAR honours fundcos for superior customer service

By Mark Noble | January 11, 2007 | Last updated on January 11, 2007
2 min read

DALBAR Canada has announced the winners of its annual mutual fund service awards, with BMO Mutual Funds topping the list for the first time.

Each year, DALBAR evaluates Canada’s 17 largest mutual fund companies by playing the role of average Canadian investors seeking information on mutual funds. In 2006, DALBAR made more than 2,000 phone calls and sent 400 e-mails to test the knowledge and friendliness of telephone representatives, effectiveness of e-mail communication, telephone wait times and e-mail response times, in both English and French.

BMO was ranked first in three of the four categories. Other top-quartile finishers in 2006 were Franklin Templeton Investments, AIC Limited, AIM Trimark Investments and Scotia Securities.

There is some consolation, though, for those that didn’t make the top four because, if the DALBAR Award is any indictor, the old adage “The customer is always right” may not hold true — at least when it comes to predicting the financial success of a mutual fund company.

Mark McDonald, DALBAR Canada’s director of client relations, highlights as an example AIC’s past dominance of the award. “For the past three years, our English-language award was won by AIC Limited, and their situation vis-à-vis net redemptions has been well documented. But the fact that their service has been so strong given their other woes is a testament to them,” he said.

“I think in some cases, like AIC, when their performance isn’t where they would like it to be, they realize that they really have to hang their hat on service in order to please their customers.”

On the other hand, McDonald says a lesser ranking in DALBAR’s service evaluation doesn’t mean the fund company isn’t doing well. For example, DALBAR has found examples of companies like RBC Asset Management that have effectively balanced strong service with high performance. RBC narrowly missed the top quartile of the study, largely due to long wait-times, which McDonald said could be symptomatic of increased demand for the company’s products.

“RBC Asset Management has probably been gathering assets faster than any other company in Canada for the past year or so, and the level of service that their phone representatives provide is extremely strong,” he says. “You look at a company like that and you think there’s a company that doesn’t have to focus on service, but they still do.”

Filed by Mark Noble, Advisor.ca, mark.noble@advisor.rogers.com


Mark Noble