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Online advantage begins to kick in

Asset management companies are sprucing up their websites to facilitate online transactions by not just tech-savvy investors but even lay ones.

Rachna M. Koppikar | Print Edition: May 2, 2010

Over the last five years, Chennai-based software professional Murthy Manda, 36, has changed his mutual fund agent thrice. And every time with the same result-the new agent would sell new funds or push the ones which got him higher commission. But last August, Murthy decided to do away with the agent altogether and take charge of his mutual fund investments. Today, he does everything-from research and finding good funds to filling the application form and sending it to the fund company's office. He also regularly checks fundsindia.com for the latest news on funds and sometimes buys funds online.

But Manda's transformation into a do-it-yourself-investor was not prompted by self-serving agents alone. It had also to do with the reforms introduced by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) last year, which banned the entry load charged by fund houses and introduced fund transactions on stock exchanges in an effort to bring in greater transparency in selling funds and make them available to a larger universe of people. As these reforms opened up multiple platforms that made buying mutual funds easier, while allowing investors to make informed choices, people like Manda were too happy to dump their agents and take charge of their affairs.

For Do-It-Yourself Investors

OPTIONSServices offeredFee
fundsupermart.co.inFund execution-buy, sell, switch, SIP. Comparative fund research, risk-return profiling, interaction with overseasinvestors and fund managers.Free
Mutual Fund websitesFund execution-buy, sell, switch, SIP. Account maintenance. Information on products, fund manager commentary. No peer comparison available.Free
powermf.com (to be launched soon) To buy and redeem funds. To allow comparative fund research, personal advice facility at a later stage.To charge account opening fees, maintenance and per transaction fees.
Camsonline.comPortfolio maintenance and tracking services.Free
fundsindia.comFund execution-buy, sell, switch, SIP. Comparative fund research, risk-return profiling.Free

For Investors Who Want an Advisor

National-level distributors like Birla Sun Life Distribution, NJ India Invest, Bajaj CapitalFund execution-buy, sell, switch SIP- and portfolio monitoring available in both offline and online mode.Various packages based on the services - transaction, fund advice and financial planning.
Bank/broker online platforms like icicidirect,com and sharekhan.comFund execution-buy, sell, switch, SIP. Comparative fund research risk-return profiling.A lumpsum annual fee based on portfolio value or number of transactions.
ifastfinancial.co.inIndependent financial advisors give personalised advice and fund transactions services.Free
BSE/NSE BrokersFund execution services - buy and sell only.Nominal brokerage fees, demat charges.

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