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The sun has finally made an appearance at lang cat HQ this week (with some thunder and lightning thrown in for dramatic effect) which means not just one, but TWO great things: summer has finally arrived here in Leith and our free annual guide to direct platform investing has been let loose on the world once again.

The platform market had been looking a bit sleepy in our previous 2015 guide, as the dust settled from all the post-RDR pricing changes. But our third annual guide is coming back with a terminator-style vengeance as we turn our attentions to robo-advice in the aptly titled COME AND HAVE A GO: RISE OF THE MACHINES.

The number of start-ups and new launches currently hopping on the robo-advice bandwagon make this area of the market look like a pretty big deal. But, in reality, ordinary investors are not quite so caught up in the robo-hype, with the majority of people still just trying to wrap their heads around what robo-advice means, let alone actually investing with one of them.

So it only seemed right that this year’s Guide went back to the basics of robo-advice, stripping out the usual bore-fest of industry jargon along the way. Anyone who has ever asked themselves questions like, what do robos actually do? will find the answers here.

Investors also need to ask themselves some serious questions before going down the robo-route, most importantly the level of control that they like to have over the investment process as well as the degree to which they are happy to accept responsibility for investment decisions and outcomes. To make this part a bit easier, we’ve even thrown in a (not-so) scientifically-based, fun-filled, quiz designed to test out a persona’s robo readiness.

The rise of robo-advice adds yet another option to the direct platform mix, making it more important than ever to help make things a little simpler for investors going it alone. With this in mind, we’ve added robos to our now (sort-of) infamous #heatmap on platform pricing and other handy tables, to give a better idea of how our automated friends sit in the wider direct platform market.

Other familiar sights include our coveted Lang Cat Direct Platform Awards, which has seen Hargreaves Lansdown nail the top spot once again as Platform of the Year but surprises elsewhere from Parmenion, which claimed the accolade of Platform of the Year (yes, we know it’s not actually a direct platform but all will be explained in the Guide).

A small reminder here for anyone who wants to go even further back to the very beginning of direct platform investing that our original Guide covered everything you need to know to start out in direct platform investing. These basics still apply today so readers can dip in to this earlier guide if they need to fill in any blanks.

At the end of all this, our lovely readers should hopefully wind up with a better idea of which platform can best meet their needs, whether it’s a robo, or not, as the case may be. Either way, you’ll have to read it to find out. The only thing left to do then is insert yet another conveniently placed link to our page for COME AND HAVE A GO: RISE OF THE MACHINES. Happy reading and, as ever, we’d love to hear what you think.