Personal finance: Add some PEPs to future plans

Internet Investor

First Direct, Britain's first and biggest "direct" banking business plans to offer PC Banking free of charge to its customers. This is not an internet-based service but an intranet, on the bank's own secure private network. It has been on free trial to 5,000 customers since June last year. First Direct says it may offer the service over the internet in the future, depending on customer demand. I had planned to review the service in some detail - there is apparently a demonstration of its service on the bank's website.

The reason why I haven't looked at the website is because it will not let me. Well, that's not quite true. It will not let me without sending a "cookie". Normally, I avoid techno-jargon but this is one piece of it of which anybody using the web needs to be aware.

The best analogy for a cookie is Caller ID on telephones. Caller ID lets the person you are calling know your telephone number. Cookies work in much the same way. A website knows who has logged on by looking at your cookie. Anything you tell a website that uses cookies, it will remember the next time you visit. Anything you do at a website that uses cookies it can also remember, tracking a behaviour pattern - allowing the business behind the site to tailor its products to you and target you with special mailshots.

Cookies, so the argument goes, smooth the path of consumerism, making sure you only get business offers that interest you. They have also sparked a serious debate about privacy issues.

Anyway, FirstDirect will not let you access its website without sending a cookie. Which raises two questions. First, is it polite for a website to do this? No, it is not. (Imagine being escorted out of your local supermarket by a bouncer because you refused to tell them your address.) Second, is it safe to accept the cookie? That depends on how much you value your privacy.

The bottom line is I didn't feel like accepting First Direct's cookie. So I did not get to view the website. Many commercial websites now have cookies. However, most tend not to refuse you access if you refuse the cookies.

Another piece of web jargon you may come across is "search engine". Search engines are the internet's telephone directories, basically automated programmes which seek out and note the addresses of other websites which match specified criteria.

This month a new engine, FinanceWise, made its debut on the web. Set up by Risk Publications and IBM's Securities and Capital Markets Division, it is a free web search engine for banking and finance professionals. But it is also going to be a handy tool for individual investors.

By indexing only sites and pages relevant to the world of banking and finance, FinanceWise bypasses the millions of megabytes of irrelevant data returned with mainstream search engines. In fact, it is the only engine to offer three types of search option. You may search by keyword; by specific classes of products, suppliers, information or companies; or by sector listings.

FinanceWise is the first search engine to focus specifically on financial websites. However, directories (which tend not to be automated) of financial websites have been available for some time, including the UK Personal Finance Directory on Moneyworld and the Financial Information Net Directory (FIND).

First Direct: www.firstdirect.co.uk

FinanceWise:

www.financewise.co.uk

UK Personal Finance Directory: www.moneyworld.co.uk

FIND: www.find.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?