Get with it. Robot money advisors are the future (and present) of banking. In 2013, many high street banks closed their advice services following new regulatory rules. This, in turn, stopped banks and financial advisers from taking commission for investment recommendations. The result was a swarm of online DIY investment platforms that use technology to calculate which funds or shares best suit your needs and appetite for risk.
Fancy algorithms manage investors’ money by analysing users’ answers to questions about income, disposable cash, tax position, investment goals and appetite for risk. Investing online (effectively through robots) can seem baffling so we wanted to highlight five online investment firms.
How much risk are you willing to take? Whatever your instinct, check out Nutmeg's offering. You can’t beat word of mouth recommendations and on average, each Nutmeg customer refers more than two friends or family members to Nutmeg. They must be getting something right. They don’t use technical jargon, they don’t lump all your money together, and they don’t charge high fees or won’t hit you with sneaky charges. It uses computer algorithms to assess risk and assign investors a portfolio. Launched by a group of former City investment managers in 2011, Nutmeg builds a portfolio of funds (intelligent portfolios, ISAs and Pensions) to suit your appetite for risk and your needs for relatively small fees. The process is simple; sign up, enter the amount of cash you want to invest, the time period you want, and the level of risk you are willing to take. Risk options span from ‘Avoiding loss is the priority’ to ‘I’ll risk large losses for higher gains.’ Co-founder Nick Hungerford says, ‘We regularly rebalance your portfolio, selecting from a diverse, global range of assets, to ensure you have the best chance of staying on track. And you can get in touch with us by telephone, email or live webchat, whichever you prefer.’
MONEY ON TOAST
At a loss with how and where to invest your savings? Money on Toast was created in 2012 to revolutionise the way financial advice is delivered. It offers advice on investments and produces a tailored report with investment recommendations. ‘Easy to use, fast and requires no personal details,’ is how Elaine Moore from the Financial Times described the UK-based financial supersite. You get to talk to a qualified financial advisor regarding investments or pensions for just £69 via a telephone or Facetime appointment. The session lasts up to an hour and the adviser can produce a full report and complete any actions you need to take. Money on Toast advises across a full range of investment and pension products including ISAs, General Investment Accounts, Pensions, SIPPs, Trusts and Investment Bonds.
Investment advice is no longer only for the very rich. Wealth Horizon is targeting the millions of savers who are investing amounts so small that they are unwilling to pay the high fees of a financial advisor. It is often those who have neither the time nor inclination to keep track of their ISA portfolios. Founder Chris Williams had worked in financial services for two decades before he set up Wealth Horizon’s low-cost online advice service. He recognised that the traditional advice and investment management models do not serve the majority of the country. Users complete questionnaires and can ask for help via a ‘webchat facility’ with one of Wealth Horizon’s financial advisers. ‘The service is slick and not overwhelming and certainly lives up to its promise of making investment simple to understand,’ wrote Kyle Caldwell from The Telegraph.
FIVER A DAY
‘I wanted an investment revolution, not an investment empire, and we wanted one which was creative and imaginative, intuitive, flexible and fair,’ said Al Rush, founder of Five A Day. He created a website that offers quick, highly affordable, simple, online financial advice. Fiver a Day relies on an algorithm to aid the investment. Their regulated service is targeted at those with simple needs and offers access to ten portfolios.
Do you have a preference for passive, active or ‘positive impact’ (socially responsible) funds? Whichever bracket you fall in, look to SimplyEQ, the low cost investment and advice service offered by EQ Investors, the award-winning boutique wealth manager run by John Spiers. You can invest entirely online but most clients prefer to deal with their qualified advisers, either on the phone or in person. Users can start afresh with at least £250/ month or £1,000 lump sum and can invest through ISAs, Pensions or Investment Accounts. You’re able to check your account online 24/7 and will receive a statement every six months. The charges are well below the norm; typically the more you invest, the more you save but you can pay as little as £0.98 per month.