One of the biggest problems they face, even today, is that of getting dispassionate advice on the shares they own. Of course, they will receive annual reports from the companies themselves. Newspapers will give them details on share prices and report company results.
But there is little substitute for listening to an expert who has had the opportunity to study the company and can give an explanation of what lies behind a sudden share movement or a particular set of results. Stockbrokers can provide that service. But for most people owning a handful of "popular" shares, brokers are prohibitively expensive.
NatWest Stockbrokers is attempting to bridge this "information gap" by launching an automated telephone service through which investors can hear the bank's own analysts discuss the prospects for the UK's top 100 companies.
Calls cost 60p a minute, with an average duration of about 3 minutes. More details are available from any NatWest branch, or call 0345 224488.