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Investing Online Can Be Productive and Easy

Investors who want their money to grow and do not want to have to worry about their investments daily can use online asset allocation funds to get the job done at low cost.

| BY Kent McDill

There are many reasons investors choose not to work with financial advisors (cost, lack of trust, belief they can do as well by themselves), although many investors would benefit from an association with a professional.

Then again, there are investors who depend on their financial advisor for all investment decisions, either because they don’t want to take the time to deal with the issue or do not have the necessary expertise.

Both of those worlds are now able to be assisted by the same type of investment firm, one that operates online and invites a lack of contact between investor and advisor.

These online asset allocation firms invite investors to put a sum of money into an account with them, asks for a synopsis of the investor’s desires for what kind of investment they want to be involved in and how much money they hope to have by a certain deadline, then creates a portfolio for them in a matter of minutes.

With instruction on how much of the fund is to be allocated to what kinds of investments, the line advisor keeps an eye on the fund and reallocates as necessary in the least expensive way possible. All of this is done for a small managing fee, and the investor has the portfolio information available online whenever he or she wants to see it.

RELATED: Online Advisors Gaining in Popularity, Clients

This system works well for investors who don’t feel the need for an advisor, but don’t want to work on their portfolio every day as well as for those who want their investments to perform well without them having to do anything other than turn it over to a second party.

In Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner wealth segmentation series report Financial Attitudes and Concerns, 26 percent of investors consider themselves self-directed investors with no need for a relationship with an advisor, while 16 percent consider themselves fully advisor-dependent, asking the advisor to make most or all of their decisions.

Among the self-directed investors, 53 percent feel they can do a better job than financial advisors at handling and maximizing their investments.

At the same time, while 45 percent of investors said they like to be involved with their investments on daily basis, that means 55 percent do not. Online asset allocation funds would work well for those.

This form of investment advice is seeing greater growth in the United Kingdom than in the United States, but has caught on with some American firms.

Nutmeg, a London-based firm, advertises that it takes 10 minutes to set up the portfolio, offering the service for as little as £1,000 with additional investments offered at any time. Contact with a human investment professional is available by email, telephone or internet chat, all for the low cost of 1 percent of the fund investment annually, with an average upkeep cost of approximately 0.3 percent annually.

FutureAdvisor, a San Francisco firm, offers frequent review and rebalance of a portfolio, with recommendations and reallocation when necessary, for 0.5 percent of the assets managed, plus costs.

These companies use a computer-generated program to determine the best investments for each client based on any specific demands made by the investor in terms of risk and anticipated reward. Changes in the investments are often made automatically with an eye toward keeping transaction costs down.

But there is also a transparency aspect to these types of funds, as every move that is made is visible online, and the portfolio itself is available online as well. Without the use of human interaction, the cost associated with an online asset management account are well below those of firms that utilize human advisors and regular meetings with investors.

These online accounts do not favor daily adjustments (“Research shows trying to beat the market does not work for everyday investors”, FutureAdvisor says on its home page) and believe a steady investment plan is more successful than one that jumps in an out of investments.

 “Investors shouldn't have to actively manage their investment accounts: the right things should happen automatically,’’ according to FutureAdvisor.

About the Author

Kent McDill


Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.