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The Independent Online

The turkeys are voting for Christmas already. A survey by Deloitte & Touche and the marketresearch group Compeer shows three out of five stockbrokers and fund managers believe they willnot benefit from trading online.

The turkeys are voting for Christmas already. A survey by Deloitte & Touche and the marketresearch group Compeer shows three out of five stockbrokers and fund managers believe they willnot benefit from trading online.

They are right. Trading online drives down costs for customers and profit margins for brokers. Butnot trading online is likely to drive such firms out of business in the long term, because they willlose market share to invaders from the US and their more nimble-footed domestic competition.

New portfolio management tools, such as those offered by Moneyworld and Compuserve, threatenmany a mediocre stockbroker. Compuserve Portfolio, launching this month, is available free fromCompuserve's Money Channel.

You don't have to be a Compuserve subscriber to use it, since the portfolio is available on the Web.But use a Netscape browser and you may have difficulties. Compuserve admits the site has been"optimised" for use with Compuserve's own browser or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The Compuserve Portfolio includes coverage of six major stockmarkets: London, NYSE,Nasdaq-Amex, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris. There is no limit to the number of elements youhave in a portfolio and it offers charting functions and technology to inform you when prices moveoutside your set parameters.

Nick Saalfeld, senior producer at Compuserve's Money Channel, says the service will not standstill. "We will be rolling out additional functions, such as alerts by phone, news management,dealing and personalisation."

The world of personal finance on the Internet is a a small one. Before Nick Saalfeld joinedCompuserve last year, he was with Moneyworld, which rolled out its own portfolio managementoffering back in June.

Moneyworld's Portfolio has unique features, including the ability to calculate the percentage changein the investments held in the portfolio since you bought them. Moneyworld allows you to listassets other than shares within its portfolio tool. It also offers a free company annual reportsservice at the click of a mouse button.

The Moneyworld and Compuserve offerings are powerful tools for the personal investor. Nearly allother portfolio management services available on the Internet require you to pay for information.Using one or the other of these services with cheaper online execution-only brokerages will put theprivate investor on an equal footing with most so-called market professionals.

Another recent addition to the Web is the AA Insurance online quote. It offers a 10 per centdiscount on motor insurance policies, and the AA claims to be offering 400 car insurance quotesevery day over its website. Once you enter your details, a quote appears on screen. If you wish tobuy the policy, you click on the "Call Me" button and specify when you want the AA to phone youto conclude the transaction.

Compuserve Portfolio: www.compuserve.co.uk/portfolio

AA Insurance: www.theaa.co.uk

Robin can be reached at RobinAmlot@aol.com

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