Direct Finance: This area is secure
Ken Welsby and John Hancock on investment over the Internet
Saturday 22 March 1997
Your postcode. And that's the key to the direction in which telephone- based financial services are heading.
In their early days, direct sellers were regarded as "cheap and cheerful" alternatives to the mainstream, established financial institutions.
Not any more. Increasingly direct sellers are using the latest technology to become more customer-focused. All the operator needs is your postcode in order to see on-screen details of your previous dealings with the business.
Robert Wint of Co-Cam, a company specialising in the kind of system which delivers this information, says large companies have traditionally been poor at customer relations. You could contact them several times and not be recognised.
This problem has become more acute as many bank branches have closed down and more customers have been allocated to faceless regional centres. Increasingly though, Mr Wint says, technology will "re-introduce the quality of one-to-one client relationships".
When making an investment, people like to feel important. Call centres and client-focused systems put client data on to any screen at the touch of a key. If you walk into your local bank and the person with whom you are dealing is able to ask if you are happy with the PEP you bought by telephone last week, you feel that you are a "real person" rather than an account number.
Developments of a different kind are taking place on the Internet. If you are looking for an investment, you can spend hours viewing investment data on the Web sites of most big UK investment providers.
Many of them include planning tools and on-line calculators to help you make a decision. Some will even handle questions, although the answers may be stock rather than true responses.
Today, most investment Web sites provide information and take enquiries, but do not handle payments. Although the technology for secure credit card transactions on the Net is becoming available, for most financial services transactions it's still a matter of completing a direct debit form or putting a cheque in the post. That should change later this year as secure payment technology such as IBM's CommercePOINT comes on stream, which will enable secure bank transfers to take place on-line.
It is worth remembering that most of these Web sites and the tools that they provide are part of a sales process and the information may be biased.
If you want to refer to something you read recently in The Independent, but didn't keep the cutting, you could be in luck if you subscribe to AOL Europe - the local version of America On-Line. With a few mouse clicks you can access our on-line edition and search the personal finance and business pages of recent issues to track down the information and save it for reference.
For anyone investing in managed funds such as unit or investment trust PEPs, companies such as Micropal and HSW maintain Web pages with up-to- date performance data from main providers.
For example, if you connect to Interactive Investor (http://www.iii.co.uk) or Find, the financial services net directory (http://www.find.co.uk) you can find not only performance figures from Micropal or HSW but performance histories, profiles and analysis.
The basic services are freebut for more details you have to register, to comply with the Financial Services Act, confirming you have asked for the information and that you understand the terms on which it is offered.
Lionel Welch, operations manager at Interactive Investor, sees the next development as being "push" technology, downloading an intelligent screensaver carrying investment prices and data which automatically updates itself at regular intervals.
John Perceval, managing director of Omnium Communications, which created and developed Find, says that "when on-line banking getsunder way later this year, attitudes to payment over the Web will change rapidly and make it possible for Web sites to accept payment and complete transactions for value".
Another new technology which is looming over the horizon is interactive television.With the advent of digital TV the medium will provide a richer information environment - and television has the capacity to influence events in ways that the Internet cannot.
You can see how television and investment are already starting to connect if you have satellite or cable services and tune in to the two business channels, EBN and CNBC.
EBN, European Business News - part of the Dow Jones empire which publishes the Wall Street Journal - carries a mix of business and financial programmes, with regular market updates.
CNBC is much more market focused, and from early afternoon provides live coverage of the action on Wall Street, including the on-screen ticker showing virtually real-time prices.
In the world of digital television expect to see tighter links between the Net and broadcast services. In just a couple of years from now, expect to sit at home watching live news conferences and market commentary in a television window on your Internet screen.
One final statistic to consider from Charles Schwab, the giant US broking firm and parent of ShareLink, Britain's leading execution-only broker. This time last year, only 5 per cent of its dealing came from the Internet. Now the figure has passed 50 per cent. Will Britain be far behind?
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
17 October 2014 07:08 PM
Going down the wrong road: parking fines are nudging people into debt difficulties
17 October 2014 07:58 PM
Stacks of income: Drax is among the companies in Neil Woodford’s portfolio that he believes will pay strong dividends
17 October 2014 07:23 PM
Don't panic, it’s a wise idea to check investments regularly to ensure they are on target for your hoped-for returns
17 October 2014 08:18 PM
With little or no wage growth being seen in the UK, increasing house-price inflation could see the number of first-time buyers slide further, unless there’s a new accelerated house building programme
17 October 2014 07:19 PM
You should ignore the headline offers and trickery and work out the total cost of borrowing under different deals
17 October 2014 07:24 PM
Denise Leigh, who appeared in a production of Rigoletto with Alan Opie, was left without an essential service
10 October 2014 06:13 PM
A charity has calculated the cost to us all of unmanageable debt – from lost productivity to the extra demands on the NHS
10 October 2014 06:36 PM
The regulators are at last tackling the high-profile payday lenders, but they appear to be ignoring the growing problem of internet loan firms
10 October 2014 06:35 PM
As the cold weather hits, the question of soaring bills will be felt by each of us at home
10 October 2014 06:55 PM
Nikki Galloway (above) sells jewellery via her own website as well as on Facebook, Amazon and Bouf
10 October 2014 07:17 PM
Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. The country’s stock market was boosted last month on John Key’s re-election
10 October 2014 07:29 PM
Royal Mail is cutting its small parcel charges from 20 October
03 October 2014 07:08 PM
Anyone who moved to countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa and a 100 other places, have had their pensions frozen at the rate it was paid at when they left the country
03 October 2014 06:52 PM
Every fund has good years and bad, but consistent underperformance over a number of years points to something more fundamental
03 October 2014 07:38 PM
Nick Train thinks luxury fashion brand Burberry is one of the companies that has prospered in digital marketing
Mark Dampier: Woodford’s young companies could be the stars of the future
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
You'll need £220,000 for a minimum wage in your retirement
Questions of Cash: Something rotten in the cellar causes trouble up above
Weekly Money: round-up of the personal finance stories you may have missed 20-24 October
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
iJobs Money & Business
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
£100 - 125k: Guru Careers: A CTO / Chief Technology Officer is needed to join ...
Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to ...
Day In a Page
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village