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Online investing goes upscale – Big money managers plug in

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Following in the footsteps of traditional brokerage firms, some of the biggest players on Wall Street are turning to the Internet to deliver investment services to their wealthiest customers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Services that high-end customers will be able to get online range from accounting and taxes to estates and trusts.

J.P. Morgan next week will launch an online version of its private-banking service designed for accounts with $1 million or more.

Goldman Sachs Group will put its deluxe private-client services on the Web.

U.S. Trust, which traditionally has catered to the wealthiest customers, has announced its acquisition for $2.9 billion by discount broker Charles Schwab, an online pioneer.

And Silicon Valley startup myCFO, backed by high-tech entrepreneur James Clark, will serve the super-rich.

The number of households with a net worth of $1 million to $5 million totals 6.1 million and has been growing at 40 percent a year for five years, the Journal says.

The five-year growth rate for the 9.5 million households with $500,000 to $1 million has been 20 percent.

Goldman in the past has focused its high-net-worth business on clients with more than $10 million in assets but now is considering using technology to target clients with $1 million to $5 million, the Journal reports.

Merrill Lynch and other traditional brokerages moved to the Web last year.

Now, blue-chip companies are embracing a market in which “the discounters are moving upstream fast,” Alex Stein, who follows financial services for Gomez Advisors in Lincoln, Mass., told the Journal.

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