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Virtual Net offering free services to new members

Internet-based IFA network Virtual Net is offering new members network services free for four months to mark its first birthday.

Members joining from September 1 will pay no network charges until January 2004 although they will have to pay the £99 joining fee.

The network is aiming to attract 150 new members. They will get compliance, training and online commission payment services free but will have to pay for third-party expenses such as PI and FSA fees.

Virtual Net&#39s 150 members will continue to pay fees for the same services but the group plans to offer them additional bonuses over the next six months.

The network was launched in September 2002 with the support of strategic partner Legal & General and aims to undercut existing network models by offering IFAs support services at a lower cost online.

Chief executive Junior Sobowale believes that too many networks are still charging high fees for poor, slow services. He says: “To be in a position to be able to offer free network charges to the IFA community proves that our business model is working, delivering IFA support services on the internet at a very low cost price.”

Financial Technology Research Centre director Ian McKenna says: “I am cynical about this. What exactly are they saying they can do using the internet that other networks are not already doing?

“The benchmark for me would be what they are doing relative to Positive Solutions, which can already offer advisers five stages of the advice process online.”


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