Charcol offers cut-price investments

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JOHN Charcol, the UK's largest independent mortgage adviser, yesterday launched an execution-only investment service, offering clients discounts on unit trusts, personal equity plans and investment trusts, writes Nic Cicutti.

The move will intensify the price war among personal finance companies which are cutting the cost of investment products to attract business.

Clients will pay at least a third less than the usual 5-6 per cent initial charge levied on unit trusts and PEPs. The discount will come from the slice of an investment usually paid as commission to advisers.

Discounts will rise to half or more of charges where fund managers agree to cut their own front-end charges. These include Fidelity, Save & Prosper, James Capel, Foreign & Colonial and Scottish Equitable. Investors who ask for advice will also get the fund managers' discount.

Ian Darby, marketing director, said: 'I suspect we will not be very popular within the industry. We are not saying that financial advice will itself become cheaper. But we are becoming more competitive and that will mean reductions in prices for many products.'

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