Your computer will never miss a meeting

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The Independent Online

People may be reluctant to visit a financial adviser because of the cost or the fear of being the victim of another mis-selling scandal. For these people the internet has been a boon, offering a wealth of information without having to shake hands with anyone.

People may be reluctant to visit a financial adviser because of the cost or the fear of being the victim of another mis-selling scandal. For these people the internet has been a boon, offering a wealth of information without having to shake hands with anyone.

Sort.co.uk claims to have offered independent financial advice to more than 10,000 clients since August 1999.Sort, regulated by the Personal Investment Authority, provides individually-tailored advice on ISAs, pensions, mortgages and investments for a much lower fee than any human adviser would charge. For £99 you can have a full financial health check. It costs just £19 to get an ISA recommendation. A mortgage recommendation costs £49, while pensions and more complicated investment advice costs £79. A fee-based adviser would charge around £200 for a one-off ISA recommendation, and up to £700 for setting up a new pension. A commission-based adviser could earn anything up to £1,500 for setting up your pension.

Websites such as TheStreet, Interactive Investor International and Motley Fool provide information for those investing directly in stocks and shares.

Many other sites allow you to key personal details and requirements into a search engine, and then come up with a list of appropriate "best-of-breed" products. Mortgage websites Charcol Online, NetMortgage and Online Mortgages will produce a list of likely home loans. PEP-TopTen lists recommendations, while Money Supermarket and Moneyextra allow you to search for a range of financial products.This hardly qualifies as financial advice, but Forrester Research warned in August that many IFAs will be forced to alter their approach to cope with best-of-breed websites.

Forrester says the only thing the internet will not be able to automate is the individual adviser's intimate understanding of an individual's affairs. But if this is not important to you, you may never have to meet a financial advisor in your life. Unless you find yourself at the wrong sort of party.

Web addresses Sort: www.sort.co.uk;Virtual IFA: www.virtual-ifa.ltd.uk; David Aaron Partnership: www.aaron.co.uk; PEP-TopTen www.pep-topten.com; The Street.co.uk: www.thestreet.com;Interactive Investor Intl: www.iii.co.uk; Motley Fool: www.fool.com; Charcol Online: www.charcolonline.co.uk; NetMortgage: www.netmortgage.co.uk; Online Mortgages: www.onlinemortgages.co.uk; Money Supermarket: www.moneysupermarket.com; Money Extra: www.moneyextra.com

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