Saturday, 29 March 2014

Getting Onto the Platform

I first took out a S&S ISA around 8 years ago with CIS (now managed by Royal London). I paid into it monthly and took very little notice of how it was doing, basically because I truly believed that it was little more than a glorified savings account which would just increase somewhere in line with the amount I put in. I had heard the term "volatility" but I had never really bothered to find out what it meant.

When I started thinking about retirement planning I took another look at my ISA as this is the biggest "chunk" of money that I have available to help me. Whilst doing my research on what a S&S ISA actually is (which naturally led onto a crash course in portfolio building and asset allocation courtesy of Tim Hale amongst others), I came to realise that there was a whole new world out there. This world was one where people could manage their own investments online, where they could see how those investments were doing on a day-to-day basis if they wanted to, where they could research what was available, create imaginary portfolios and "watch" interesting funds. In other words I discovered the online broker platform.

From believing that I had to leave my money where it was and passively watch what happened to it via an annual statement that came through the post, I went to realising that I could move it onto a platform and be actively involved in managing it. It was a liberating discovery as it fed my desire for control and need to plan, but it was also a little scary. How should I go about moving all that money, and where should I put it?

As I'd been reading Monevator for some time this article was my main information point in my planning, (although I did read the boards at and anything else I came across about the subject). Given my profile Interactive Investor turned out to be the fairly obvious choice and as they were offering an attractive transfer deal at the time (and still are, I believe) I decided to bite the bullet and start the ball rolling.

I filled in the transfer form, set up an ISA account and began to familiarise myself with how things worked. I must admit that the first time I bought a fund I felt quite nervous and, in fact, my 5 first buys were fairly small ones as I wanted to see the whole process run through but without committing much cash. For that reason I know I paid more dealing costs than I should have (iii charge £10 per deal) because I hadn't yet (and still haven't) been credited with any of the free dealing that was promised as part of the transfer deal. Thus I committed one of the cardinal sins of investing - paying over the odds to deal. But I'm happy to take this hit as I think it's worth it to get myself up and running with confidence. Plus I now know that I've been paying more charges than I have needed to for years, so, in the long run I will be saving quite a bit of money.

I'm now at the point where I feel that things are going pretty well. I have 5 funds with small amounts sitting in them, I've organised a monthly payment into my account from my current account and the first set of regular transactions I set up went through (almost) without a hitch. I feel pretty pleased with myself and all ready for the next financial year.

If only whoever is sorting out my transfer would get a move on and shift things across ..

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