Finally, kasina LLC, a New York-based e-business consulting firm, can put together a Top 10 list of investment managers' online services for institutional customers. Why now? There are finally more than 10 with online services to evaluate.

There may have been a rush to the Internet during the last half of the 1990s by almost every business concern you can imagine, but institutional asset managers were not part of it. Sure, as an individual, you have been able to check your portfolio online, but institutional asset managers didn't want to divulge the kinds of portfolio details that an online display of accounts might entail. In addition, there wasn't going to be the cost savings for the institutional asset managers that retail managers enjoy.

But the customer is always right, and plan sponsors were beginning to question why information about their relatively puny personal IRAs was available at any given moment on the Web, but not the multibillion-dollar retirement funds they oversaw. "They would say, 'I've got $5 billion [invested] and I can't get Web reports as good as I can on my $75,000 IRA account,'" says Kelly Haughton, chief Internet strategist at Frank Russell Co., a Tacoma, Wash.-based investment services firm. With that the tide turned, and by the end of 2001, kasina reported that 80% of institutional investment managers offered online services, although less than 50% reported data on their Web sites. Still, it's better than it was.

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