Willis Owen launches Your Space to help new surge of do-it-yourself investors manage their portfolios

26th June 2013

Discount broker Willis Owen says the number of do-it-yourself investors has surged due to changes in the way that independent financial advisers must now charge for their services.

Previously advisers were able to take a commission when they sold you a pension or mutual fund, but commission been banned on these products since the turn of the year (though not on insurance products).

That, Willis Owen says, has led to a huge surge in demand for its services, doubling the number of customers so far in 2013 compared to the same time last year. However it also suggests that the profile of these investors may be different and has launched a free online tool to help them make better informed decision called Your Space. (You do have to register). Here is what it offers –

A weekly value and holdings update, allowing users to see how their mix of funds is spread across the various IMA sectors and how much they have invested with each fund manager
• A ‘Portfolio Scan’ to reviewing investment performance
• Viewing portfolios both by provider and product type.
• Access to new research, valuations, performance charts
• Fund Fact Sheets and Interactive Charting Tools specific to individual portfolios

Jason Chapman, managing director at Willis Owen, says: “The investment landscape is changing dramatically post-RDR, with many more weighing up the DIY route. The problem is that many won’t have selected their own funds and constructed their own portfolios like this before – and the prospect of going it alone will be pretty daunting.

“This tool will be a fantastic aid to filling the information gap. Building your own portfolio requires research and time, but we also want customers to make decisions that support them over the long-term rather than just the next few months. By allowing users to track fund performances over time, we are arming them with the information they need to make informed choices.

“Picking the right funds, knowing how they perform over time, understanding your risk/reward balance – these are all important considerations for people when planning their financial future. Your Space will allow us to better understand what our customers prioritise the most, which aspects of their portfolio they are most keen to view and monitor, and the ways in which they prefer to do so. This will help us ensure we provide the service our customers want from us.”

Mindful Money view:

We don’t doubt the need for services and information of this sort though there are many such services and planning tools available. However, we also question where these new customers are coming from. If they are the ‘orphan’ clients of fully fledged independent financial advisers – who simply don’t want to pay under the new system, then they should be arriving with some knowledge about investment. However, our instinct is that most fully advised clients will be sticking with their financial advisers if they can.

We think many of these new do-it-yourself investors may have be orphaned by the banks. Our understanding is that most banks did not spend much time explaining the basics of investing such as the benefits of diversification and even basic financial planning though they were meant to.  These investors may be arriving with a collection of funds that may bear little relation to their needs and risk profile. They could very easily be over-concentrated in a particular asset class. While portfolio tools should help with the latter, we are not sure they can help investors who are not all that well informed graduate to fully fledged self directed investors. It is worth looking around the full range of information offer. In fact a new site, Guidetoadvice.co.uk has launched with the aim of rating the sources of consumer information that could help an investor get up to speed.

But it may even be worth paying a decent adviser to talk you through some of these issues especially if they will give your existing investments a health check. You can also link to unbiased Findanadviser service.

35 thoughts on “Willis Owen launches Your Space to help new surge of do-it-yourself investors manage their portfolios”

  1. Malsta says:

    Shaun interesting insights as always but please clarify how ‘we are more vulnerable than we were’? and who are ‘we’ in all this!? I’ve been anticipating a house price correction for some 10 years and interest rate rises for at least the past 3. Clearly I’ve been out of synch with the powers that be for some considerable time. It seems all the smart guys borrow deep into the red and spend with little constraint while fools like me build up reserves, keep in the black and resist buying into an absurdly inflated market. It also seems to me that national economic performance is at odds with the reality of that of the man in the street. Remember once upon time many years ago there was something called the man in the street and he appeared to have a voice. Far how much longer are party politicians and their hirelings going to get away with mismanaging our economy? Where reality is purposefully manipulated and distorted and replaced by fantasy fortunes for the few! A change has gotta come! the sooner the better.

    1. Forbin says:

      Malsta, I did the same and paid down debts

      obviously I’m a heretic like you…..

      none of the mistakes made with regards to the Banking sector have been corrected or changed before the crisis or since. And since I think still that our Banks have more problems than we are lead to believe and that they have undue influence on our Government , then this issue of housing costs will go on.

      As Shaun points out wages are failing in real terms and housing has never been so expensive , ok you can if can afford the repayments now and find something you don’t need a 20% deposit on.

      On a previous post I did show what the state was , and yes you need 2 good wages – so what about a rate rise ? BANG!

      more later


    2. Anonymous says:

      Let me clarify it for you: if you work in the UK and are under 35 you are the mug. The man in the street is the boomer+ and he is salivating at higher prices and more debt to fund election pension promises.

      1. Forbin says:

        pfft !

        This man on the street wants houses to DROP in price , in real terms to wages , as he wants his 20 something kids to bleeding leave home

        With Pension pots now being tunneled into yet another PPI type scandal , we are in the hurt locker

        Prog , you bailed out , lucky you !


        PS: corn prices may have dropped but so has my wages to buy them ….. ( reply to Shaun’s post yesterday …. )

        1. Anonymous says:

          They are starting to realise it now. Not because they shunned unearned “wealth” or because they want the best for the next generation. It’s finally dawning on them that the “something for nothing” wasn’t free and it’s costing them to support their kidults whilst their gain is a chimera.

          Too late.

          1. forbin says:

            I agree about the US rate predicament , we’d hurt then – bonds , BoE rate rises , argh!!

            frankly I don’t think the average man/woman on the street thinks beyond football and the next soap drama, the pollies have been kicking the can and hoping it’ll all blow up on the next guy’s shift

            Real leaders no longer exist or aren’t interested

            so we have a mammoth housing bubble , way above what can be repaid ( with out excessive inflation – namely in wages , which for some strange reason is not wanted at all ) ….

            yes it will end badly , and if I got my sums right it will be next year as energy prices rise ( look towards oil – the current drops are causing less capex in LTO drilling , and no new wells means , with the large decline rates of these wells , a large drop in supply )

            interesting times as I’ve often said


            PS: If we do go after Putin , then Nat Gas is gonna be an interesting watch ……….

    3. Anonymous says:

      Hi Malsta and welcome to the comments section on here.

      My argument in terms of vulnerability was based on the way that house prices have risen again but real wages have fallen. So on that basic measure houses are less affordable than before. The factor which has squared that particular circle is monetary policy. Not only did we get much lower Base Rates but then we got FLS to push mortgage rates even lower. Although the FLS is now over mortgage rates have not changed much (the Bank of England data is to end-July).

      So the housing market is to my mind more vulnerable than before to any interest-rate rise and as the UK economy depends so much on the housing market…..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great column, Shaun. After reading it, I checked out the press release for the Nationwide HPI. If I understood correctly, Nationwide is now adjusting house prices in Glasgow, London and Manchester for distances to tube stations, with houses close to tube stations commanding premiums. While this would seem to be an improvement per se, it does show the weakness of a mix-adjusted or hedonic price index such as Nationwide’s. There are all kinds of factors that render one location more attractive than another and it is impossible to adjust for all of them. That’s a good part of the reason why the Case-Shiller HPI, based on repeat sales prices of the same homes, has become the index of reference in the United States. Its success led to the creation of the Teranet National Bank HPI in Canada, which is also based on repeat sales. It has not eliminated other indexes for existing homes, like the Royal Lepage series and the MLS series, but like the Case Shiller HPI, it has become the most commonly referenced series. There are problems with these repeat sales price indexes too. They can be unduly influenced by lemon homes that frequently change hands, and accounting for renovations can be problematic. Just the same, they are probably more reliable than hedonic price indexes like the Nationwide HPI. Andrew Baldwin

    1. Anonymous says:

      The Case Schiller methodology might be less reliable in the UK, because many wannabe developers buy undesirable run down properties and tidy them up for resale at a profit. Americans wanting nice homes can easily buy land and have a home built. Britons cannot easily obtain building plots and the small number available are very expensive.
      Hence the high resale prices of done up homes might overstate actual HPI.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Thank you for your comment, ExpatInBG. I said that renovations could be a problem with this method, and I’m not really sure how the Canadian Teranet National Bank HPI treats them. I found this study on a repeat sales price index for England and Wales:


        It mentions the possibility of making a house improvement adjustment using the annual English House Condition Survey, but it appears that no attempt was made to adjust for it in the study. Is there a similar survey for Scotland or Northern Ireland? In spite of that the repeat sales price index calculated showed lower inflation than either the Halifax or Nationwide index. The paper also makes the point that both the Halifax and Nationwide indexes are not based on actual transaction prices as a repeat sales price index would be, since not all mortgages that are approved are enacted, and some of those that are have their prices altered from the price as of the mortgage approval date. Andrew Baldwin

        1. Anonymous says:

          Yes you did. I think renovations would cause much bigger distortions in the UK. Whilst buying my last UK house in 2003, about 1 in 3 were quickly tarted up to flip for a quick profit. I bought a house needing doing – did it and lived in it.

          1. Anonymous says:

            Maybe so. Perhaps that`s why the UK doesn’t seem to have such an index. Did you have to obtain a building permit to make the renovations to your last UK home, ExpatInBG? Would the building permit data provide a means of adjusting for renovations in a UK repeat sales price index?

          2. Anonymous says:

            No, because we didn’t add any rooms/area. Replaced 25 year old bathroom tiles and porcelain, it had a navy blue toilet downstairs, crimson bath,toilet & basin upstaris and chocolate brown toilet, basin in ensuite. Replaced kitchen and appliances. The carpet was rank from cat pee. On the plus side, we bought at bargain price and ended up with place decorated to our own taste. Gossip said we bought a demo house, which explained the 800m2 plot with landscaped garden and multicoloured bathrooms when most 4 bed houses on the estate got build on 400m2 plots.

            Neighbours there did major extension (added approx 20 square metres x 2 (downstairs and upstairs) and had no issue getting planning for extension.

            Big developers seem to get new build permissions granted on agricultural land where individuals cannot. This scarcity makes the few self-build plots very expensive.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Hi Andrew

      I saw the section on tube stations and thought that it was something that Homer Simpson might cover with the word D’oh! If I had to pick the strongest influence I would say it is the catchment areas of what are considered to be good schools where prices from street which are in to those that are out can be very different for similar properties. But as you point out the minute you start putting extra variables in the more you end of thinking of others.

  3. Anonymous says:

    ‘As a side issue it also reduced deposit and savings rates as UK banks had less of a need to compete in this area.’

    Well that’s one way of seeing it. I would say that it was a careless unintended consequence that further shifted the balance of advantage from depositors to borrowers. That in turn has increased the country’s risk profile. As you say, the country is also more vulnerable because mortgage affordability in the sense of income to perceived value is getting (even) worse.

    The housing market, notwithstanding the adversity of politicians, needs urgent reform. A country that depends on selling itself houses, a huge service sector and a parasitic and overdeveloped financial sector while sucking in imports of manufactures, raw materials and food is looking very vulnerable. Especially as the state is borrowing ever more from lenders of all kinds to finance over spending. What happens when confidence reduces, for whatever reason? Well rates increase.

    1. Anonymous says:

      When confidence reduces they print more to try and restore confidence. They have to follow this baby all the way down now. Trying to climb back out the hole is nailed on to fail. Double down is the only hope…which of course will fail eventually.

      Since 2008 after failing to create any growth this is exactly what Osbourne did – double down on housing.

    2. Noo 2 Economics says:

      And your suggestions for the appropriate reforms?

      1. Eric says:

        The whole country is protected by a UK version of Chapter 11 through more and more cheap debt. The alternative to Progrock’s reply of more of the same is to remove that protection. Interest rates must rise, asset prices must fall, the bust households, businesses and banks (esp. banks) must go bankrupt; give 1 month’s notice to scrap the FSCS etc, etc. This may be the BoE’s famous “… the alternative would be worse…” but it is the alternative. A simple choice. Follow this baby all the way down, or kick it into touch. No-one relishes a couple of years of national cold turkey; especially the 1%, the bankers and HMG. So I guess we are well on our way down.

    3. Anonymous says:

      Hi Barncactus

      I just want to make clear that I meant it was a side issue to today’s post not that it in itself is a side issue. In fact it is an important one as it continues the squeeze on savers that Charlie Bean the now ex-Deputy Governor of the Bank of England described as “necessary” 2/3 years back on Channel 4. In many ways FLS has turned out to be a type of stealth Base Rate cut.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Saving raes still falling just learned HBOS ISA rate cut to 0.75 in Oct.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi Chris

      The Bank of England has a quoted ISA rate which was 2.57% when the FLS began and as of end July was 1.18%. So they have more than halved and as you say the falls are continuing.

      In that vein perhaps the rise in the cash ISA limit to £15,000 has also acted t depress savings rates to the extent that it pulled in new money.

  5. Jim M. says:

    Hi Shaun,

    O/T but I thought I’d share this account of the tangled web that is BES, a topic you looked at at the start of this month, in case you or any of my fellow denizens might be interested.

    The Bank of Portugal had earlier reviewed the top
    borrowers at the country’s largest banks and discovered Banco Espirito
    Santo’s heavy loans to Espirito Santo family companies. The central bank
    asked auditors KPMG to go through ESI’s accounts and the results were
    shocking: ESI’s accounting had “materially relevant” irregularities that
    put into question the “veracity and completeness of accounting
    records,” according to a copy of the KPMG report seen by Reuters.

    Hmmm … time for a little Fleetwood Mac perhaps?

    Tell me lies
    Tell me sweet little lies
    (Tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)
    Oh, no, no you can’t disguise


    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi Jim M

      Thanks for the link which reveals quite a murky web does it not? I suspect that there are new problems being found there but that as far as possible they will not be revealed to us. What is the state of the loan book for example? What about deposits it have over payed for and so on…

      BES has gone off the news radar but yet yet spring an unpleasant “surprise” or two.

  6. Hopelesslyoutnumbered says:

    What we don’t know is whether Banks have written off all of their bad debt issues. My suspicion is that many of them haven’t – because if they did so their Balance Sheets would render them technically insolvent – and hence there is a conspiracy between Banks, auditors, government and media to keep this fact quiet.

  7. Paul C says:

    Hi Shaun, I note that your house price articles always get a lot of interest. Well in my view, to answer your rabbit and hat conunumdrum they are out of conventional tools when the last “heroin” FLS HTB injection wears off. As prices plateau because even the Russians, Chinese and Italia s think London prices are too high then……

    We have no choice left, asset values must be protected whatever.

    The government will create a “fund” ( actually a credit borrowing) and directly intervene in all kinds of asset markets creating “price stability”. They’ll say it is an opaque tool with a spectrum of UK assets but under cover they will buy London real estate but not Newcastle or Leeds properties.

    There you have it , your news headline for late 2015.

    😉 Paul

  8. Londoner says:

    The next rabbit out of the hat might be paying landlords to buy homes to rent out. BTL seems to be the main driver of house prices where I live in West London. Oh, that and uncontrolled EU immigration from the disaster zone of EZ.

    1. Noo 2 Economics says:

      “The next rabbit out of the hat might be paying landlords to buy homes to rent out.” Ha ha I like it, but don’t give them ideas -they’ll actually take your comment seriously and establish a committee to look into the possibility of implementing your idea.

  9. Anonymous says:

    They won’t do it. Nuclear war means some of their friends and family might die, which is different to prior wars. Enjoy the show though by all means.

  10. forbin says:

    Frankly NATO couldn’t win if the Soviets invaded during the cold War – even less so now

    limited air strikes and war by proxy is what’s happening now

    then’s there’s the economic war via sanctions

    interesting times indeed


  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I wonder who will win:
    1. europe with food security and manufacturing
    2. Russia with energy security
    3. US with both
    4. London with a lot of IOUs

  12. Anonymous says:

    We’ll never know whether NATO could have beat the Warsaw pact countries during the cold war. You could read hostile waters, which is a real account of a Soviet nuclear sub trip which ended the the noisy 25 year old clanker sinking off the US East coast. An unseaworthy junker which had 1 of it’s 16 missile tubes welded shut due to a previous missile fuel explosion.

    Also see Desert Storm. Saddam’s T72Ms and MIGs did not trouble the army and USAF.

    KGB expected the Argies to defeat the British forces trying to retake the Falklands. They were surprised at the British victory.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Europe isn’t exactly united. Germany has neither food nor energy security.

  14. Eric says:

    Hi Shaun,
    Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the fundamental cause of all our problems. 6 years ago we turned a financial/banking crisis into an economic one. Why did the BoE reduce the base rate to virtually zero and pump the system with cash when in 300 years it was never necessary to fall below 2%. Why does Carney say we won’t return to historic norms. Why are we solving problems caused by debt with even more debt. Why are banking reforms resisted. Why is it taking so long to recover. Could it be the banks are in far, far more trouble than anyone dares to fear. How high to asset values have to rise before they cover the debts. No wonder inflation is no longer public enemy no. 1.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sure, as we’ve seen from reluctance to have Russian sanctions. But they are streets ahead of the UK and can trade their way out. What will the UK do? More IOUs?

  16. Anonymous says:

    It’s real hard to make decent predictions, the UK is a debt based mess but with a 1940s spirit and harsh belt tightening Zimbabwe style disaster is avoidable. At least it ranks moderately well for rule of law/corruption.

    Russia lost the cold war because their economic sector was a disaster. The KGB had ultimate power, which can corrupt. Bribing doctors to receive “free state provided medical care”, queues for food and 20 year waiting lists for Ladas, Moskvitchs etc. It still is a resource based economy. Reviving the dreaded Brezhnev “we will nuke you” doctrine is economically sustainable when oil is $100, but what it falls below $50 ?

    Much of the prize military tech is computer based. In the 1980s, Western systems (mostly USA) were proprietary closed source using specific hardware manufactured in the West and subject to strict export controls. The massive rise of widely manufactured commodity hardware running the DOD’s unix/linux platform makes it impossible to prevent Russia acquiring competitive computing systems. Sadly this means pinpoint accuracy for the ICBMs over our cities. Doubtless the US military industrial complex will welcome a rerun of the cold war. Buy recommendation on Northrup Grumman.

    come the early 80’s Russia was struggling economically and Reagan upped US defence spending. Economics decided the issue. The USSR was labeled an “evil empire”. We should remember that Putin worked for the KGB in East Berlin where the KGB’s instructions led to the murders of over 800 freedom seeking people. He may win a tactical victory in Ukraine, reminiscent of Budapest in 56 & Prague in 68, but the odds of Russia winning the economic and political long game of cold war II look very thin.

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