of the Month: Alliance for Investor Education
Susan B. Anders
SEPTEMBER 2006 - The
Alliance for Investor Education (AIE) promotes its website,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of
accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure,