In some instances, the redesign of a website can provide aesthetic changes to give it a fresh new look. In others, it can mean starting from the foundation, constructing a “new and improved” website that catapults it to a new level of distinction. The redesign of the Massachusetts Investor Program website falls into the latter category, incorporating more and better content into a highly sophisticated design structure.
One of the themes of the recently launched new version of the Massachusetts Investor website is “bringing integrity to investors.” Mission accomplished. The revamped site adds a level of transparency that is unmatched in any state investor relations website we’ve seen to date.
States should be the leaders in providing disclosure information to investors, according to Colin MacNaught, Assistant Treasurer for Debt Management in the Office of the Massachusetts State Treasurer. “Not only is it the right thing to do,” he says, “but states have the resources to raise the disclosure bar.”
And Massachusetts is leading the pack. By improving the format, frequency and timeliness of disclosure, the redesigned Investor website serves as a new model for municipal investor relations.
As MacNaught explains, one of the main goals of the new website is to update the way in which disclosure information is provided to investors.
Information in the Real Time Disclosure section of the Massachusetts Investor website is dynamic, embracing the power of technology to deliver a continuous flow of information. It is an updated way of delivering information circa 1980s style, wherein issuers produce a document and print it for distribution. While the web allowed that same information to be posted online, this next step is a giant leap forward.
One of the site’s greatest strengths – and there are many! – is its inclusion of information over time, including historic (archived) reports, current information, and real-time data. The site includes archived Comprehensive Official Annual Reports (CAFRs), official statements, rating agency activity and presentations, and a variety of disclosure information – all available without having to visit a third-party website.
… the new Massachusetts Investor website is more than a redesigned website; it is a groundbreaking step forward in online investor relations communications for municipal issuers.
In addition to spanning time, the breadth of information extends beyond the ordinary. For example, while many states provide access to annual financial reports, it is a rarity to see OPEB Actuarial Reports, as the Commonwealth makes available on its Investor Program website. With public pension systems coming under greater scrutiny, this is a welcome addition to any investor relations website – not only for investors, but for taxpayers and policy makers as well.
Another interesting report is the Consensus Revenue, or Tax Revenue Forecasting Report.
The Real-Time Disclosure section of the website is the piece de resistance… and it’s hard to know where to start – other than to say: you have to see it to fully appreciate its wide-ranging content. From economic data – population, employment, income – to financial data, statistics are plentiful and up-to-date.
In all, this section includes 98 data tables and charts that the Commonwealth publishes every 60 days as part of its regular investor disclosure. Using a special software program developed by a Boston firm, users can import this data into new charts, recreating and customizing their own tables for analysis.
In describing this feature of the website, MacNaught says, “This software application is incredibly powerful from a credit surveillance perspective. It allows us to turn over an incredible amount of our data to investors so that they can easily undertake their own analysis.”
Users simply download the software, and can immediately start manipulating the data. Once they highlight the information on the website that they want to use in their analysis, that data will be delivered to them on a continuous flow whenever it is updated.
“This feature is a huge productivity gain for investors, who no longer have to waste time search repeatedly searching for data and time entering it onto a spreadsheet for analysis.”
Simply put, the new Massachusetts Investor website is more than a redesigned website; it is a groundbreaking step forward in online investor relations communications for municipal issuers.