Norwich Union is in the process of making a hi-tech move into the offshore market. Dublin-based Norwi...
Dublin-based Norwich Union International (NUI) is offering bond wrappers for both Norwich Union funds and a selection of third-party funds to domestic investors in the UK and Italy, and to UK expatriates in Spain.
There are two new bond products intended for the UK and the Spanish expatriate market.
The first is the Norwich International Portfolio bond, which gives investors access to 17 Norwich Union funds as well as 50 other funds selected by NUI after assessment by Standard & Poor's Fund Services. They are all AAA-rated.
The second is the Norwich International Investment bond, which again gives access to Norwich Union funds as well as three currency funds.
NUI has also launched the Union Star bond, which has access to a mix of Norwich Union and other funds, into Italy.
All the bonds will be sold via intermediaries who must be registered with NUI. But from that point on, much of the investors' contact with their investment will be via the NUI's website, which is in both Italian and English.
Dion Hershon, e-commerce marketing manager at NUI, said: "What we are doing is taking a proven concept and applying it to a different paradigm. There will be public content - a given in today's market. However, the intermediary will also be able to store their client details on the website and get valuations whenever they like."
Much of the information an investor might need will also be available on NUI's website. They will be able to examine their accounts at any time and switch their assets between funds online up to 24 times per year.
For investors, there is an online transaction history and a bank-style statement that lists all transactions with their respective dates. For intermediaries there will be details of commission information.
NUI will also scan the financial press and place various articles and announcements on their website for either investors, intermediaries or the casual visitor to peruse.
Payment and redemption is not available online, although it has not been ruled out for the future. At that point, there will be fewer obvious reasons to keep to the current geographical locations.
NUI has control over the location of investors - they only accept business from intermediaries registered with the service, the idea being that client quality should be maintained by passing on the responsibility for vetting investors to trusted intermediaries.
If online payment is introduced, it will remove the necessity of an intermediary and will globalise the potential investor base.
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