Website of the Month: Alliance for Investor Education

By Susan B. Anders

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SEPTEMBER 2006 - The Alliance for Investor Education (AIE) promotes its website, www.investoreducation.org, as “The Investor’s Clearinghouse,” which is a good description of the resources available. The AIE was formed in 1996 to provide investment-related education, and has grown to more than 20 member organizations and five advisory organizations. The resources are generally provided by links to member webpages or documents, although some are original to the AIE. The website is supported by the member organizations, and resources are free and available to the general public.

Although the website is targeted to the average investor and the focus is on investor education, accounting and financial professionals will find many useful materials. Many of the resources can be used by professionals to educate their clients. CPAs new to an investment area will find the basic materials helpful as a starting point either for professional knowledge or for managing their own personal investments.

Navigation

The homepage is organized in a newsletter format, with the current week’s spotlighted articles in the center of the page as “Investor Education This Week.” A link to “New Info for Investors” is on the right side. The bottom two-thirds of the homepage is a topical index with hyperlinks to specific resources under different topics: stocks, mutual funds, financial planning, teachers, bonds, young investors, older investors, scams, futures, investing basics, and getting help.

The homepage and the main pages are similar in appearance, providing a top banner and small menu bar. The left sides of the home and main pages contain an index for searching the site, signing up for e-mail updates or web syndication feeds, and a news center. It also allows users to report broken links, a good feature for most websites, especially because two of the AIE members had broken links during this review.

The topical index at the bottom of the homepage is fairly well organized, although some overlap exists in the linked resources. The “New Info for Investors” main page presents many resources already listed on the homepage. The materials are not organized in any way, but cover areas such as cash management, saving (in general), saving for college, estate planning, retirement, and taxes.

Because the website is essentially a portal to members’ web resources, most users’ navigation will be limited. Many hyperlinks connect to specific areas within members’ websites. Even though the organization of materials could be improved, there are some excellent tools and resources, in a variety of formats.

Financial Planning

Under the “Financial Planning” heading are links to excellent PDF files, including “Manage Your Holiday Spending” and “Managing the Relationship Between You and Your Advisor.” A link to the highly rated “Ballpark Estimate” retirement calculator, in interactive or PDF format, is also available. Following the AICPA’s initiative to provide financial literacy education to women, advisors will find an informative pension checklist for women.

“New Info for Investors” offers links to websites with excellent beginner information on how to understand investment performance, asset allocation, and how different investments work. This section also offers additional resources, such as a brochure explaining the differences between brokers, investment advisors, and financial planners.

The “Mutual Funds” section on the homepage includes a brochure on “Understanding Mutual Funds” and a booklet on “Mutual Fund Fees.” This section also provides a fund-expense calculator, as well as an interactive quiz. Risk seekers may be interested in a booklet on “Understanding Hedge Funds,” under “Stocks,” which also offers an interactive portfolio game. The “Bonds” section offers a yield calculator.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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