Personal Finance: Investment Notebook - Pru hatches its plans

You may very well be aware that the Prudential laid an Egg this week, announcing a new direct, interactive service with great fanfare, which it claims will be tailored to each individual customer.

The Egg will hatch tomorrow, when the service opens for business, offering market-leading interest rates on deposits and borrowings and a competitive no-fees mortgage. All three services will be directly available seven days a week, 24 hours a day by telephone, post and on the Internet. More services and products will be added in the future.

Quotations and account applications will be available via the Egg website. The Pru is taking this very seriously, spending around pounds 75m on the venture.

The Association of Unit Trusts and Investment Funds (AUTIF) is the trade body representing the UK unit trust and investment funds (mutual funds) industry. AUTIF was originally formed in 1959 and has just launched its website.

Probably the most useful section of the AUTIF site is its interactive search option which, combined with the About Unit Trusts section, is designed to help you choose the investment funds to meet your needs.

The search option asks you to specify the size of investment you wish to make, where you wish the investment to be made and whether you are seeking to PEP the investment or not.

It will provide you with a shortlist of companies matching the criteria you input. AUTIF suggest that you then make sure you call the companies and ask for further information or, alternatively, you may prefer to consult an independent financial adviser. The site also has the contents of all the fact sheets AUTIF has produced in the past, explanatory notes about how unit trusts work and an archive of press releases.

If you want to get right back to financial basics, check out the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) website. Within it, the OFT has launched a personal finance microsite to help you through the pitfalls of financial planning.

The site provides easy-to-follow information about bank accounts, mortgages, investments, insurance and pensions. It also gives pointers on how to plan your own finances and offers links to other useful websites, including information sources.

If you aren't yet wired up to the web, a printed version is available, free of charge, from OFT, PO Box 366, Hayes UB3 1XB. Tel 0870 60 60 321.

Egg: www.egg.com

AUTIF:

www.investmentfunds.org.

uk

OFT: www.oft.gov.uk/html/finance/index.htm

Robin can be reached at RobinAmlot@aol.com

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