A managed account is a really diversified investment portfolio where every investment is owned by you, through a platform, but managed by an entire investment team that is working around the clock to monitor markets and make changes to your investments, when opportunities present.
When you invest in a managed fund, your money is pooled together with other investors.
A fund manager then buys and sells assets, such as shares or bonds, on your behalf. You don't own the underlying investments, you own 'units' in the fund. The value of the units in the fund will rise and fall with the value of the underlying assets.
Direct equities is when you invest directly in shares in a company, which may be via the Australian stock exchange. You own the shares.
So what's the difference?
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