Internet investor: A one-stop shop for information on the new ISAs
Saturday 04 April 1998
Of course, it is not offering you the opportunity to invest in an Individual Savings Account yet. What the site does set out to provide is a one-stop shop, with all the information you need about the new tax-efficient savings vehicle. It is an admirable aim. The site does not yet succeed in fulfilling it but it has made a start.
What you can see on netISA is a commentary, updated monthly, on developments in the run-up to the launch of the new accounts. There is a page showing you the Government's pronouncements. This currently shows an extract from the Budget speech and has the text of the Budget press release on ISAs from the Inland Revenue. In addition, there is a "press cuttings" page and a page of "your questions answered". You can submit questions using the site's feedback form.
The site also intends to create a page of links to other websites with information about ISAs. So far, this consists of one link, to Autif, the Association of Unit Trusts and Investment Funds. Others will, no doubt, follow.
None of this comes free. You do not actually pay money but you are required to register to use the site, which means MBO Partners is building up a handy e-mailing database of potential purchasers of its ISA when the time comes.
It is early days but the promise of useful things to come is there, including the prospect later this year of a personal "ISAselector". This will be a questions and answers routing system to help you identify what kind of ISA might suit your individual needs and investment aims and, further on, identify which ISA providers would offer the best options for you.
Richard Carswell of netPEP claims: "We want to extend the efficiencies of the internet to would-be ISA investors in a way that `reads their financial palms' to help route them to the ISA provider that suits their needs."
One useful point the site makes is that, as private investors, we tend to be rather more long-suffering than is good for our financial health. Somehow, inertia sets in when it is time to sack a money manager. Now that PEPs do not have to be transferred into ISAs next April, there is no automatic prompt to review our investments' performance. So, take this opportunity to check your PEP performance and, if your plan manager is a dud, switch!
Finally, another site that has had a serious face-lift recently is the top watchdog's, now the Financial Services Authority. Anybody who made a note of the old Securities and Investments Board website will automatically find themselves looking at the FSA site.
It subsumes all the information on the old SIB site and has been redesigned to be easier to read. In addition, it details the other organisations which will shortly become part of the FSA and there are links to other regulatory websites. The site will become more detailed as the legal framework is put in place later this year.
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