Online advice to run your finances

Personal financial pointers may soon be too pricey for many, but plenty of help is at hand via the internet

Financial advice is poised to undergo a transformation. In a few weeks' time, financial advisers will no longer be allowed to gather commissions, and will have to levy fees instead.

The Retail Distribution Review (RDR) as it's called, could price many people out of face-to-face financial advice. The RDR has worthy intentions – it will see commission-based financial advice banned in a bid to reduce mis-selling and will also force independent financial advisers (IFAs) to be qualified to much higher standards. However, upfront payments – perhaps running into four figures – will be a big deterrent, particularly for investors with smaller portfolios who are often the very people who most need help. This will leave an important gap to fill.

Fortunately, many sites and web tools are springing up to bridge that gap, but where should you start and what do you need to watch out for?

Investment advice

Reputable fund platforms such as Fidelity FundsNetwork and Hargreaves Lansdown already provide detailed information for investors, but today, Bestinvest has launched its new Free Investment Report Service & Tool (bestinvest.co.uk).

This is designed to help people manage their existing investments and analyse their portfolios in four key areas: exposure to risk (using market benchmarks and Bestinvest's own models); asset allocation (to see how balanced it is); quality and performance (using fund ratings given by the Bestinvest research team); and annual costs.

"Much has been written about the expected explosion in 'DIY' investing, but traditional, no frills, execution-only services, focused primarily on fund selection and reducing transaction costs, do not offer a magic bullet for servicing those investors who are expected to be orphaned from the advice market," says Jason Hollands, the managing director at Bestinvest.

"These investors will need access to educational material, rigorous research and user-friendly guidance tools to help them navigate the investment maze."

Post RDR, a web-based, simplified advice service such as Money on Toast, from IFA firm CPN Investment Management, could also prove popular. You can access basic advice and product recommendations for free, but cross-selling is how these sites make money so they do earn a fee if you go on to buy anything through the site. Of course, there is no obligation to do this and if you want to talk to a human instead, you can book a 20-minute virtual appointment via Skype with a qualified adviser for a reasonable £35 a pop.

Account pooling

Getting an overall picture of your financial health is a big step in clever financial planning.

An aggregator site such as Moneydashboard.com makes this easy, providing a snapshot of all your online current savings and credit-card transactions in one place so that you can track your finances in real time.

After your first log in, the past three months' worth of statements are automatically loaded and you can start analysing your habits immediately using clever tools such as the "intelligent tagging" function to group your spending into categories.

Other useful features include the "future planner" for personalising financial goals, charts to see your spending habits at a glance and what Money Dashboard called a "clear cash" figure to see what spare money you have available from your current account after any planned outgoings have been accounted for. It can also use your past spending patterns to predict future outgoings and potential savings so you can budget realistically for the future.

You may be nervous about having all your details in one place and you should tread carefully when using software that isn't approved by your bank. You could even come unstuck if you need to make a refund claim for fraud because banks view aggregator sites as third parties. Ultimately, however, your account numbers and passwords aren't actually stored on their servers and as this is a read-only service, you can't actually withdraw or transfer any money.

Competitors include First Direct and Egg. However, First Direct's Internet Banking Plus cannot be used with Macs and only Egg customers can use its Money Manager service.

Lovemoney.com also offers "money track", which uses your bank statements to create an automatic budget. As with Money Dashboard, you cannot yet include your investments so you don't get a full picture of your finances, but you can access your online bank and credit-card accounts in one place, along with an analysis of your spending habits.

Financial planning tools

Sites such as MoneyVista.com are advanced financial planning tools.

You can quickly upload details about your income, expenses, debt, protection and investments and this information is then used to create an instant, personalised plan.

The "savings watch" tool is a big selling point here because it tracks your savings accounts and sends you alerts when your bank drops interest rates, or when a product paying a higher rate becomes available.

Otherwise, the more information you provide, the more interesting it gets. If you enter details about your house, for example, it will calculate how much the property will be worth by the time you die. You can even compare your budget to others to see how your spending habits stack up.

MoneyVista originally cost £8 a month but this fee has been dropped for a limited period so it's a good time to give it a test run.

One for the children

Financial education should start early, and if you want to prepare your children for their future, financial or otherwise, you invariably need to think digital – there's little use teaching them about systems they won't be using when they become adults.

With pktmny.com parents can set up an account for their child (aged eight to 16) and arrange to pay in their weekly or monthly pocket money. Your child gets a bit of independence and can use a contactless, prepaid VISA debit card to spend that money, but as the parent, you can set strict parameters.

The fees are a bit of a sting: you pay a one-off £5 to join and an ongoing £1 monthly membership per child, with ATM charges on top at 50p in the UK and £2 abroad.

This aside, you do have ultimate control and can decide how much is spent in a single transaction and per week, as well as whether the card can be used in cash machines, or on the internet. Your child can also create savings goals and wish lists, with relatives and friends able make occasional payments to help them reach their targets.

Independent Partners: Search our directory to find Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) who have been rated and reviewed by their clients. Find out more

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin married in Venice yesterday
peopleAmal and George Clooney 'planning third celebration in England'
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley at the premiere of Laggie at Toronto Film Festival 2014
theatreActress 'to make Broadway debut'
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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 Money & Business

    IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

    Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

    £50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

    CTO / Chief Technology Officer

    £100 - 125k: Guru Careers: A CTO / Chief Technology Officer is needed to join ...

    COO / Chief Operating Officer

    Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker