NatWest to launch online investment and 'robo advice' services


NatWest is to launch a new online service it says will make investing simpler for customers.

Customers can put as little as £500 in the NatWest Invest service, which could attract those who want to invest some cash but who may not be able to afford advice or for whom paying for advice may not make financial sense.

Those using the service can select the fund they feel best suits their needs and the level of risk they are willing to take.

There are five funds of varying risk levels, ranging from those aimed at people who want to take a small risk to adventurous investors who are willing to risk large fluctuations in value. It will be possible to invest in more than one fund.

People can link their investment to a financial goal such as saving for a deposit for a house and track their investment performance online.

The move comes as more people generally are going online to manage their day-to-day finances. 

Les Matheson, the bank's chief executive of personal and business banking, said customers' expectations are changing.

He said: "They are increasingly choosing to bank with us digitally and we have responded to this change by launching an online investment service which customers can access through their existing online banking."

The service launches on February 20 and the NatWest Invest funds will be available as an Isa. The bank's customers can use their Isa allowance or transfer funds from an existing Isa.

Customers using the service will be charged a maximum of 0.95% per year of the fund size.

NatWest is also developing an online automated "robo advice" service which it plans to launch later this year. 

Concerns have previously been raised around an "advice gap" hindering ordinary savers from getting affordable advice.

Regulators have said new technology could play a major role in driving down the costs.