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Discount broker services look all set to take a giant leap into 21st century.

Discount broker services look set to make a great step forward in the way they do business.

These developments should have considerable influence on operations within the personal financial services industry in the next century.

The traditional image of brokering has focused on securing a more advantageous deal for the private investor.

The alternative is for the purchaser of an investment product to "go it alone" and finish up paying more to the provider. Therefore, the broker's main role has been just to make it cheaper for those who know what they want.

However, discount brokers are now offering far more than simply buying and selling on behalf of clients, on what is called an "execution-only" process. Most are convinced that both an information and execution service is what the majority of investors now require.

Moreover, one of the country's leading brokers, the Pep Shop and Individual Savings Accounts, located in Nottingham, says arranging an investment is simply a sales procedure.

In contrast, the company visualises the sale of an Isa as heralding the beginning of a lengthy process entailing commitment on the part of both investor and adviser, rather than an end in itself.

Heading the pack to establish a new mode of discount broker provision is Wolverhampton-based company, Torquil Clark.

As one of the largest discount firms, Torquil Clark has devised an innovative scheme which possesses the hallmark of catering for current needs, while keeping a sharp eye on the future.

Indeed, the inception of its exclusive TQ Premier Membership Club goes way beyond the mere availability of glossy literature, free phone lines and pre-paid reply envelopes.

The strategy encompasses free access to "client only" seminars, featuring speakers from top investment and other financial institutions, together with a special client contact code for use in conjunction with information sources.

Registering for this service entitles the investor to newsletters, annual reports and performance charts. In addition, there will be seven-day access to freephone helpdesks.

However, it is the use of the Internet which delivers a new dimension for investors seeking a discount broker.

The firm will allow coded access to a "members lounge" area of its website, which includes a free private on-line portfolio valuation service, an up-to-the hour personal finance newsfeed, advance notice of new products and fund-performance information.

Managing director Mr Don Clark urged members to make full use of and enjoy the immense benefits of these developments.

At present there are 18 "mass-market discounters" but many investors are still unaware of a service provision which can dramatically cut the cost of investing in a simple and efficient way.

This, indeed, marks a deep intrusion in a territory previously regarded as the sole domain of the independent financial adviser.

The professional consultant will usually pocket the bulk of the generous commission paid by the investment houses for having procured new business. Furthermore, the independent adviser has been the sales force for the investment management industry.

In the course of daily commercial transactions, people have become accustomed to obtaining better deals through utilising direct sales outlets, thereby avoiding the "middle-man".

Yet seeking the professional services of an intermediary on the money market is one of the few occasions when working through a third party really pays off.

It is certainly worth persevering along this route because of the significant financial return for your efforts.

For instance, you can easily save more than pounds 200 on a pounds 7,000 Isa and similar savings are to be gained from other market products on sale from top fund managers such as Fidelity, Perpetual, Jupiter and GT Invesco.
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Author:Axon, Peter
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 15, 2000
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