A new online portal, investonline.co.za, now lets customers invest in a range of unit trusts in a cost-effective, convenient and user-friendly way, while providing them with independent advice to ensure they choose the funds which best meet their specific investment needs.

The new portal is headed up by Nick Brummer, former director at HSBC Securities and Deutsche Securities, and Rod Lowe, former wealth management specialist at Nedbank Private Bank, HSBC Securities and Syfrets Private Bank. Each has 20 years experience in the South African financial services industry, with strong track records, making them well-placed to provide independent investment advice to clients.
According to Brummer, the company aims to change the way retail investment products are sold in South Africa.
He says that one of the key benefits of investing via an online platform is the much cheaper cost structure. “investonline.co.za has no upfront fees as we pass on the wholesale price of unit trusts to our clients. This provides substantial savings compared with traditional investment advice routes, who typically charge between 2% to 3% upfront.”
Only A-class unit trust funds are used by investonline.co.za which means there is no layering of fees and any rebates negotiated with the various unit trust management companies is passed back entirely to the investing client.
Brummer says that by removing the upfront fee consumers are effectively now in charge of their own investment portfolios via the site. “Not only do we offer transparent access to a range of underlying unit trust funds, but clients are also able to switch freely between underlying funds and to construct portfolios at a very cost-effective price.”
investonline.co.za has an easy to use calculator on its website that consumers can use to identify how much they can save compared with investing through traditional channels.
“investonline.co.za is not affiliated to any particular provider, which allows us to provide truly independent advice,” says Brummer. “The portfolios we have chosen are well diversified and independently selected to ensure that we can offer all our clients a portfolio that meets their individual needs.”
The company has structured a range of risk profiled and diversified unit trust investment portfolios from the top-performing unit trust providers in South Africa, including Allan Gray, Coronation Fund Managers, Flagship, Foord, Futuregrowth, Investec, Nedgroup Investments, Prudential, RMB, Sanlam Investment Management and Stanlib.
The company targets the am ni the street, with a minimum monthly debit order of R2 000, or a minimum lump sum investment of R20 000.00.
While clients can choose from any major unit trust provider, the underlying investment platform is managed by Allan Gray Investment Services, who provide all administration services to clients, such as payment collection and regular reporting updates.
“We have also developed a personalised Risk Profiler tool – which is mandatory for clients to ensure they invest in the correct underlying portfolio of funds that best suits their specific objectives,” says Lowe.
“The advantage of using this tool is that it takes any emotion out of choosing unit trust investment products for a client. Depending on the risk profile of the investor, we can advise on the right suite of unit trust funds. This means that our clients are able to benefit from the cost savings of transacting through an online platform, while still ensuring that they are invested in a manner which is appropriate to their personal risk profile and goals."
According to Lowe, South Africans have already benefited hugely from the emergence of online competitors in the insurance and travel space. “We are confident that the same will be true of retail investment products sold online.”