Santander to launch investment platform

Santander UK is preparing to launch of an investment portfolio designed to help investors identify appropriate funds without the need of a financial adviser. The fund is due to launch next year, and will be open both to Santander's own customers and those who bank elsewhere. The bank currently has a small number of advisers for customers with more than £50,000 to invest, and also offers wealth management to its most affluent customers. The new service will use online filtering tools to assess customers' risk appetites and assign them ready-made investment portfolios, in a service inspired by a new generation of online wealth managers. Steve Pateman, head of UK banking at Santander, said: "Human beings are fallible, however much you train them. You'd be naive to think you won't get mistakes." Ready-made portfolios will be one of several services available on the platform, which will also offer a free choice of investments for self-directed customers, and act as the basis for advice and discretionary services provided to wealthier investors. "It will be like a supermarket where you can choose which aisle you want to go down," said Mr Pateman. He believes the regulatory environment will eventually change to allow mortgages to be sold online in a similar way. "We will eventually have unadvised mortgages," he said. Santander is not alone in looking for online guidance tools, with a consultation paper published by the Financial Conduct Authority in July widely interpreted by banks and online platform providers as being kindly disposed to such services. Barclays is revamping its Barclays Stockbrokers investment platform and plans to use online guidance tools in the new version, set for launch in the second half of 2015. Online broker Hargreaves Lansdown has also said it will launch a "discretionary direct" portfolio service open to smaller investors, which will probably involve web-based tools to determine customers' risk appetite. Nutmeg is the best known of a series of start-up online investment services which have aimed to establish new models for connecting customers with investment products with less human intervention. It offers discretionary portfolios of passive exchange traded funds with a minimum investment of £1,000. Mr Pateman says he is interested by the use of technology within the sector, and Nutmeg founder Nick Hungerford says he would be open to a partnership with a high street bank under the right conditions.


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