Charles Schwab finally took its first steps into the UK fund supermarket arena this week, extending its broking services to include unit trusts and Oeics.
The move comes as Misys says it is signing up with fund supermarkets Skandia and Cofunds, giving its members free access to the platforms through M-link from the end of June.
Schwab also confirmed it will look to offer advice in the future but has not decided whether it will register as an IFA or enter into a strategic partnership with an existing adviser. It says it is unlikely to offer online advice.
Schwab hopes to make its stockbroking and fund trading services available online by the end of the year. Although it is mainly targeting the direct market, it says it has several fee-based IFAs using its facilities.
Schwab Europe director Will Kinsman says the firm is looking to work alongside UK advisers rather than compete with them.
He says: “Schwab in the US has a significant part of its business through investment managers – or IFAs as they are known in the UK – who use Schwab to provide a custody service.
“Schwab makes no sec-ret that our long-term stra-tegic ambition is to offer advice. But any assumption that we are attempting to go head to head with IFAs is jumping the gun.”