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If you want to choose from an extensive range of investments and perhaps switch investments around frequently (even daily) you should consider master trusts and wrap accounts. These "investment and administration platforms" have become quite dominant over the past few years.
The main Wrap account providers are Asgard, AXA Summit, AXA North, BT Wrap, Colonial First State FirstChoice and FirstWrap, ING Oasis, ING Portfolio One, Macquarie Wrap, MLC Wrap, MLC MasterKey and Navigator.
Some of the positive features
There are some very significant benefits to be gained from Wrap accounts:
Wrap accounts allow you and other investors to pool your money in a wholesale fund large enough to reduce management overheads and costs. That's the theory anyway.
Wrap accounts permit retail investors to access wholesale funds otherwise unavailable to retail investors.
Wrap accounts cover direct share investments and allow the consolidation of all your investments in one place, including managed funds, shares, cash and margin lending.
You can get online access to view reports on your consolidated holdings and get a single tax report each year.
But just a warning
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) warns investors to check the fees.
ASIC says “master trusts and wrap accounts can add to the cost of managing your investments. Some master trusts may impose an entry fee as high as $500 for every $10,000 invested, or 5%. In this case, you have immediately reduced your invested funds to $9,500. Ongoing fees can also be higher. For example, the most common ongoing yearly fees charged by fund managers on individual accounts range between $50 to $250 for every $10,000 invested, or 0.5% to 2.5% per year. With master trusts, ASIC has found examples of ongoing charges for investors amounting to as much as $450 for every $10,000 invested, or 4.5%, per year. Fees as high as this can make a big difference to your overall returns, so make sure the benefits outweigh the costs.”
So check the fees and be sure the features offered are going to be of real benefit to you before you commit. Remember that you may be able to monitor and maintain a record of your own investments without incurring additional fees.