Money: Want a quick way to compare ISAs? Visit the web

THE HI-TECH INVESTOR

ONE OF the easiest ways to check out the ISA market is the ISA section on the Moneyextra website. It hopes to have more than 90 per cent of ISAs on its system and it promises to add new accounts as they are launched.

Visitors can rank ISAs by interest rates and notice periods for cash accounts, or by charges and investment performance for stocks and shares ISAs based around funds such as unit trusts. The site displays listings for tracker and managed funds.

A further listing details the charges for investors who want to use a stocks and shares ISA to hold shares they have picked themselves. Moneyextra lets stock market investors select the best-performing funds for monthly or lump-sum payments.

The rules for ISAs are more flexible than PEPs: investors could only take out a PEP by filling in a paper form. ISA investors are allowed to open accounts online without a paper form or a signature in real ink. So far, only a handful of ISA companies, such as M&G and Fidelity, support online investment; investors pay using a debit card. Expect more fund managers to add this feature in the months.

n Moneyextra, www.moneyextra.co.uk; M&G, www.mandg.co.uk; Fidelity, www.fidelity.co.uk

Fresh start

The Bank of Scotland, one of the first in the financial sector to embrace the net, has redesigned its website.

The new site has sections on personal banking, business accounts, mortgages, insurance and accounts for students. It has more space on products and less on corporate information.

The changes are also designed to make the site more interactive. Features such as a mortgage calculator have been added, but the company plans to go further, with online applications for personal loans and mortgages. The bank is developing a system to give customers approval in principle for mortgages over the net, and full approval for personal loans.

Bank of Scotland, www.bankofscotland.co.uk

Stephen Pritchard can be contacted by e-mail at hi-techinvestor@dial.pipex.com

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