First Direct rolls out portfolio management to consumers

First Direct rolls out portfolio management to consumers

UK telephone and Internet bank First Direct has launched a new active portfolio management service for investors with as little as £500 in liquid funds.

Traditionally, investment portfolios have only been available to the wealthy, who have £50,000 or more to invest, which is the minimum investment required by most existing providers.

For investors with a minimum investment of £500 lump sum or £50 a month, the new smartinvest service links a customer's current account with their investment and savings accounts. The customer sets a limit on the amount of money held in their current account; once this level is reached, any extra money is swept across into their savings account once a month. Similarly, the savings account also has a maximum level and any surplus money is invested in the smartinvest Growth Portfolio.

The investment fund is provided by City Financial, with active portfolio management by HSBC Asset Management. The fund has an initial charge of 2% and a competitive annual charge of 1.25%. The initial charge will be waived for anyone investing in smartinvest before 21 February 2002.

Smartinvest will be rolled out initially to First Direct's one million customers, who already have access to independent financial advice through First Direct Investments (UK) Ltd.

Alan Hughes, Chief Executive of First Direct says: "For the first time consumers can link their everyday banking with independent investment opportunities, without already having a tidy nest egg."

"The success of smartmortgage, for which our customers have already applied for nearly one billion of borrowing, shows that people like the idea of linking products together to make them better off," he adds.

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