Providers to use Net to offer online Isas direct to the public and through IFAs By Kira Nickerson Sc...
Providers to use Net to offer online Isas direct to the public and through IFAs
By Kira Nickerson
Scottish Widows has launched an online Isa, while Britannia, Scottish Mutual and Rothschilds look at developing an internet presence in the IFA community.
Scottish Widows launched ISActive earlier this month, which allows users to apply for the group's UK Tracker Isa online. Users can invest a lump sum using a Switch or Delta card after completing the online application form. Income from the investment can be paid directly into a bank or building society account once the banking details have been provided.
At the moment only the group's Cat standard tracker fund is available for online investment and no commission to intermediaries is offered.
Isa applications can be completely electronically as there is no requirement for a hard copy signature unlike the situation with other investment products. Even with the addition of Scottish Widows, there are only a few providers offering electronic Isas.
Due to Switch and Delta card restrictions online Isas still need to be aimed at the direct market, which may be one of the reasons there have been few groups that have offered fully online Isas, according to David Nearins, marketing technology manager at Britannia Asset Management.
The group is exploring ways in which to offer online Isas through IFAs rather than direct to the public. Recently, Britannia launched the first phase of its internet site giving IFAs online access to a range of corporate information and up to date fund performance data on its range of unit trusts.
To help with the further development of its site, which is located at www.baminvest.com, Britannia is seeking intermediary feedback and plans to enhance the site over the next 12 months in line with IFA demand.
Douglas Ferrans, marketing director at Britannia, said: "We sense a rapidly changing attitude in the acceptance and usage of e-commerce among IFAs. An area that is seeing particularly increased momentum is the ability to transact Isas electronically.
"Recent market research suggests that e-commerce is about to take off in a big way and there are signs that some of the barriers to progress are slowly receding. This includes progress on areas such as security concerns and client signature requirements."
Britannia has formed a group that will set the e-commerce strategic direction for its business and will focus on ways to capitalise on the technology solutions available.
Rothschild Asset Management is also looking at its website developments and hopes to launch a web service later this summer.
Scottish Mutual has just joined the online investment community with the launch of its site last week. In addition to its consumer information site it has an IFA-only password protected portion.
The IFA extranet includes the facility to obtain Pegasus and endowment quotations as well as access to the group's marketing library. Literature posted there includes general brochure information on all Scottish Mutual products as well as key feature documents and application forms. The general information service provides fund performance details, investment news and press releases
Plans for future development of the site include making additional applications available online as well as a group pensions enquiry scheme where administrators will be able to make enquiries concerning scheme details.
To obtain a password to Scottish Mutual's site, IFAs can contact the web support desk on 0845 270 1020 or register by e-mail at [email protected]
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