Investment platforms let you buy stocks and shares, funds, ETFs, and bonds so you can invest in the stock market and save for your future. We have ranked, compared and reviewed some of the best investment accounts in the UK that offer general investment accounts.
Best Investing Accounts Compared
In our 2022 Awards, we have ranked Interactive Investor as the best investing account in 2022. Our picks for the best investing accounts are based on over 7,000 votes in our annual awards, our own experiences testing the accounts as well as an in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternatives.
Interactive Investor Investment Account
Best overall investing account 2022Interactive Investor won our award for best investment account in the 2022 awards and is a good choice for investors with over £10,000 to invest as the fixed fee model means that total portfolio costs are low, plus you get a huge range of investments to choose from including UK and international shares, funds, trusts, bonds and ETFs.
Managed or DIY?
£9.99 a month
Hargreaves Lansdown Investment Account
Excellent full-service investment platform
Hargreaves Lansdown offers the most account types of all the investment platforms we compare including a general investment account, stocks and shares ISAs, lifetime ISAs, and junior ISAs. With the share dealing account you can buy and sell thousands of UK and international shares, over 3,000 funds, ETFs, investment trusts, and corporate bonds.
Managed or DIY?
0% – 0.45%
AJ Bell Youinvest Investment Account
Best for low-cost investing
AJ Bell Youinvest is most suited to investors who are price sensitive and want the cheapest overall investment platform and offers share dealing in over 24 stock markets, bonds, ETFs and over 2,000 funds (of which around 500 are investment trusts) including a range of the company’s own funds that have been created in-house so you can invest by how much risk you want to take, or by theme or region.
Managed or DIY?
Nutmeg Investment Account
Best for beginners who want simple investment optionsOwned by JP Morgan Nutmeg is a great option for those new to investing who want a simple and relatively low-cost way to invest in the stock markets. The main benefit of Nutmeg is that it is so simple to use and you you don’t have to pick your investments, you just choose from pre-made portfolios.
Managed or DIY?
Moneyfarm Investment Account
Simple risk-based portfolios
Moneyfarm is a digital wealth manager that aims to make personal investing simple and accessible. You can invest in any of their seven risk based portfolios through a stocks and shares ISA, a pension and a general investment account .
Managed or DIY?
Interactive Brokers Investment Account
Best for international investing
Interactive Brokers is an excellent account for sophisticated investors who want to actively manage their own portfolio with complex order types and need access to a wider range of investment products like derivatives, options, and futures.
Managed or DIY?
IG Investment Account
Best for a mixture of completed and simple investment options
IG is primarily a trading platform (and one of the best ones at that) but also has an investment account through which clients can deal in physical stocks and shares including ETFs in UK, European, US and Asian markets. You can also trade and invest through a stocks and shares ISA account (although no SIPPs) through their Smart Portfolios.
Managed or DIY?
Saxo Markets Investment Account
Best for experienced and professional investors
Saxo Markets’ platform has access to more than 50 stock exchanges around the world with 22,000 instruments available for investors. Making it one of the most diverse investment platforms for investors in the UK. Its forte is on the trading side for traders that need direct market access and are more price-sensitive to bid/offer spreads.
Managed or DIY?
Wealthify Investment Account
Invest from just £1
Wealthify, part of the Aviva Group, lets you invest in either an original portfolio of investments from the UK and overseas or choose an ethical investment plan made from a blend of environmentally and socially responsible investments.
Managed or DIY?
*There are also investment costs of on average 0.16% for original plans and 0.7% for ethical plans. Capital at risk.
What is an investment account?
An investment account lets you buy and hold a range of assets such as shares, investment funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and bonds. With this type of account, you can build an investment portfolio designed to help you achieve your long-term financial goals.
What are the different types of investment platform?
Some investment platforms like Hargreaves Lansdown offer an all-in-one solution with lots of different account types and access to global markets, Whereas other investment platforms like PensionBee specialise in one thing. All-in-one solutions tend to be slightly more expensive than specialised platforms.
Here we explain what the different types of investment platforms are:
Stocks & Share ISAs
Investing in stocks and shares through an investment ISA can earn you tax free returns on up to £20,000 each financial year. Compare stocks and shares ISAs to open an account or find out everything you need to know about investment ISAs.
Self invested personal pensions (SIPPs) can save you money over managed pensions but require active management to succeed. Compare SIPP platforms to choose an account that offers you the best value for money, easiest management options or has the best historic performance. Here’s everything you need to know about investing in a SIPP.
Robo Investing Platforms
Robo investment platforms can be cheaper than managed accounts and let you invest quickly and easily without having to actively manage your investments. Algorithmic technology supports these accounts to make investment decisions simpler, so you can relax knowing your account will grow returns. find out more about the robo investing trend here.
Junior ISA investment platforms can offer you the ability to invest for your children through tax efficient Junior ISAs.
Compare Junior investment ISAs so you can invest tax free on behalf of your children when they reach 18.
ETF Investing Platforms
ETF (exchange traded funds) investment platforms let you invest in securities that track certain types of index, sector or commodity. ETFs can track single investments or multiple batched assets to improve diversification.
Compare ETF investing accounts and get ideas on how to structure your ETFs for maximum returns.
Wealth managers can help manage your investing portfolio so it earns greater returns. Offset this with the tax efficiencies they can unlock and you could increase your net worth.
Compare wealth managers for a holistic approach to your finances and find out more about when to consider a wealth manager and what to ask wealth managers you speak to.
Compare bond brokers who can offer access to fixed income investments like corporate and government bonds. Bonds are a good for of income-generating investments as they pay interest on a regular basis.
Here is how to invest in bonds if you are looking to find out more about bonds as an investment in the UK.
Compare stock brokers who offer a wide range of general investment accounts to buy and sell stocks and shares on markets around the world.
Here is how to invest in stocks if you want to get started trading stocks and shares.
Share dealing accounts can be one of the easiest ways to buy shares. Compare share trading platforms to open an account that offers easy share dealing and investing.
Sustainable & ESG Investing Funds
Sustainable and ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing offer investors to make a return while supporting projects that benefit communities, the environment or governments.
Compare ESG & sustainable investing accounts and find out how to start ethical investing.
How to choose the best investment platform?
Interactive Investor won the best investment account in our 2022 Awards as they provide one of the best value investment accounts with a broad range of assets to invest in.
However, when choosing an investment account provider, there are many things to consider. Some of the most important things to think about are:
- The investment options available
- The types of investment accounts on offer
- The investment tools and research available
- The trustworthiness and reliability of the platform
- The customer service and support on offer
- The provider’s fees and charges
Fees and charges are important when assessing investment providers, however, choosing the cheapest broker does not mean you will get the best service. Generally speaking, those that have higher fees tend to offer more investment options, provide better customer service, and be more reliable during periods of market volatility.
It’s essential to choose an investment provider that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – the UK’s financial regulator. When a provider is regulated by the FCA, it is bound by the regulator’s rules and regulations. This does not guarantee that the platform will provide a high-quality service but it does provide you with a certain level of protection. For example, if an FCA-regulated provider becomes insolvent, and you suffer a financial loss as a result, you will be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000.
As for what kind of investment account to open, it’s generally sensible to go for a tax-efficient investment account that will help you minimise tax liabilities associated with your investments. An example of such an account is the Stocks and Shares ISA. With this account, all capital gains and income from investments are tax-free. If you’re new to investing, a Stocks and Shares ISA is generally a good place to start.
How to compare investment platforms
When you compare investment platforms, you need to consider what you’re looking for from a provider. For some investors, a simple, low-cost share dealing account may be sufficient. Others, however, may need an account that offers access to investment research and advanced investing tools. Some things to consider when comparing investment platforms include:
- The range of investment options provided by each platform. Some platforms offer access to a vast range of investments including domestic and international shares, funds, ETFs, and bonds. Others, however, only offer access to certain asset classes or products.
- The different types of accounts offered by each platform. Some platforms offer access to a variety of different accounts such as general investment accounts, Stocks and Shares ISAs, Lifetime ISAs, and Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) accounts. Others, though, only offer general investment accounts. Tax-efficient accounts such as ISAs and SIPPs can help you minimise your tax liabilities.
- The research and investment tools provided by each platform. Some platforms offer a range of features that can help you make better investment decisions such as research, charts, and stock screeners. Others, however, just offer basic investment services.
- The user-friendliness of each platform. Ideally, you want a platform that is well laid out, easy to use, and can be accessed via an app so that you can monitor your account and place trades on the go.
- The customer service and support offered by each platform. Some investment providers are better than others when it comes to providing customer support. Service and support can be important, particularly if you are new to investing. You may need help placing a trade.
- The reliability of each platform. Some platforms are more reliable than others, particularly during periods of market volatility. This shouldn’t be overlooked – it can be frustrating if you cannot access your investment account because the platform is down.
- The fee structure of each platform. Every investment provider has a different fee structure. This needs to be considered carefully because fees and charges can have a big impact on your overall investment returns over time. Some fees and charges to consider include trading commissions, annual custody charges, entry fees, and exit fees. Some brokers offer fee calculators that allow you to compare fees. These can be useful when comparing platforms.
- The trustworthiness of each platform. It’s important to find a platform that you can trust. A good place to start is checking that the broker is regulated by the FCA.
AJ Bell Youinvest and Hargreaves Lansdown offer the most types of investment account as they include lifetime ISAs. Use our comparison table to compare different investment platforms by what account type they offer:
In our comparison of investing accounts, we found that only IG, Hargreaves Lansdown and Interactive Brokers offer access to the full suite of investment types. However, Interactive Brokers is more of a trading platform than an investing account and the derivatives offered by HL are actually provided through a partnership with IG. So, the two accounts that offer the most investment options is technically IG.
For larger accounts, Interactive Investor is the cheapest investing platform for buying funds and shares. The fixed account fee means that your fees do not increase with the size of your portfolio and trading commission remains low at £7.99 for standard accounts or £3.99 for “Super Investor” accounts charged at £19.99 a month.
Every year, Good Money Guide gives out awards to the best-performing investment brokers and leading financial services providers that excel in innovation, product, and customer service. These awards are designed to help others make smart decisions about who to invest with, and provide valuable feedback to improve the online investing, trading, and currency transfer industry. Winners of the Good Money Guide awards are chosen on the following criteria:
- Customer feedback in our online trading survey
- Our personal experiences in testing and dealing with the providers
- Votes by our panel of industry expert judges
- Overall reputation within the industry, innovation, and approach to customer service.
In 2022, brokers that won awards for having the best investing accounts were:
- Best Investment Account – Interactive Investor
- Best Investing App – Hargreaves Lansdown
- Best Stock Broker – Hargreaves Lansdown
- Best Stocks & Shares ISA – Interactive Investor
- Best SIPP Account – Hargreaves Lansdown
- Best Private Pension – Penfold Pension
- Best Bond Broker – Saxo Markets
- Best Fund Platform – Interactive Investor
- Best ETF Account – Interactive Investor
- Best Lifetime ISA – Nutmeg
- Best Junior Investment ISA – Beanstalk
- Best Junior SIPP – Hargreaves Lansdown
- Best Wealth Manager – JM FINN
- Best Robo Advisor – Nutmeg
Investing Accounts You Should Avoid
You should avoid any investment provider that is not regulated by the FCA. This will help keep your money safe from scams and financial fraud.
When an investment platform is regulated by the FCA, it has to comply with the regulator’s rules and regulations. This provides you with a certain level of protection. For example, FCA-regulated platforms are required to hold client assets and investments separately in the name of a nominee company or authorised third-party custodian. Similarly, clients’ cash must be held in trust accounts with authorised UK banks. These accounts carry a client money designation, and are monitored and reconciled on a daily basis.
If an FCA-regulated platform becomes insolvent, and investors suffer a loss as a result, they will be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000 per client.
Here are some tips on how to spot investment scams so you can identify if you’ve been caught out.
DIY Investing vs Managed Platforms
Some investment providers cater to DIY investors and provide all the tools investors need to manage their own portfolios. Others, however, cater to beginner investors and offer fully-managed services.
The pros & cons of DIY investing
DIY Investing Pros
- More Investment Choice: the main advantage of using a DIY platform is that you’re likely to have much more choice in terms of investment options.
- Diversity; you can often access shares, funds, ETFs, and bonds.
- Quick Account Set Up; You can set up an account and start investing quickly, usually within minutes.
DIY Investing Cons
- DIY platforms can be more complex.
- You are solely responsible for any investment risk and bad investment decisions that lead to losses.
For beginners, a managed investment platform can be a great place to start. With this type of platform, you don’t have to worry about choosing your own investments as the provider will do that for you. You can probably also get started with just a small amount of capital. Once you’re more comfortable with how investing works, and used to the volatility of the stock market, you can then potentially explore DIY options.
How to Invest Online
Investing online has never been easier, there are a range of brokers, apps, websites and services offering quick access to global markets at any time of the day or night.
To start trading, the first step is to open an account with a reputable broker. This should be a relatively simple process. You will need to provide your personal details including your name, address, and phone number. You may also have to provide some identification and proof of address.
You may find these guides on how to invest useful:
- How to invest in stocks
- How to invest in bonds
- How to invest in REITs
- How to invest in a SIPP
- How to invest in ISAs
- How to invest in ETFs
- How to invest in IPOs
- How to invest in Index Funds
- How to invest in Open-Ended Funds
- How to invest in Investment Trusts
- How to invest in ESG & Ethical Invests
In the UK, there are a number of different types of online investment platforms available. You can invest within a:
- General investing account. This is a standard dealing account. With this type of account, you can contribute as much money as you want and access your money whenever you want. The downside to this type of account is that it offers no protection from capital gains tax or income tax.
- Stocks and Shares ISA. This is a tax-efficient product that shelters capital gains and income from HMRC. You can invest up to £20,000 per year in this type of account. Here is how to invest in a stocks and shares ISA.
- Lifetime ISA. This is a tax-efficient product designed to help people save for retirement or to purchase their first home. It is open to those aged 18-39. Contributions into this type of account come with a 25% bonus while you’re under the age of 50. The annual allowance of a Lifetime ISA is £4,000.
- Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). This is a government-approved personal pension account. With this type of account, capital gains and income are sheltered from HMRC. However, you cannot touch the money until you turn 55 and it is subject to income tax upon withdrawal. Here is how to invest in a SIPP.
Once your account is set up, the next step is to fund it. Adding funds is easy to do. Usually, you can fund your account via your debit card in a matter of minutes. Once the transaction has been authorised, your funds will show up in your account.
Once your account is set up and funded, you can then set about investing online. While every platform is different, most operate in a similar way. To buy shares, for example, you simply search the platform for the company you’re interested in and then click through to the company’s page. Here, you’ll receive a quote for the security. You then enter the trade details (i.e. how much money you want to invest) and confirm the transaction.
Some investment providers are more comprehensive than others in terms of the investments they offer. Some advanced providers offer a full range of investments including shares, funds, ETFs, and bonds. Other providers are more specialised. For example, there are providers that specialise in:
- Managed investment products designed for beginners
- Crowdfunded investments
- Ethical investments
Looking to trade instead of invest online? Here you can compare the best brokers for online trading.
Which Investments Make the Most Money?
Historically, shares have delivered some of the best returns for investors over the long term. Over the long run, UK shares have returned around 5% per year in real terms (above inflation) according to the Barclays Equity Gilt study. That compares to around 1.3% for UK government bonds and around 0.7% for cash. US shares have performed even better. Since 1926, the S&P 500 index has returned about 10% per year.
It’s important to understand, however, that not every share has performed this well over time. It’s also important to understand that shares don’t rise in a straight line. In the short term, shares can be volatile. To achieve these kinds of returns from shares, it’s essential to own a diversified portfolio and invest for the long term.
It is possible to generate returns that are higher than this. One way to potentially achieve higher returns is to invest in high-growth shares or funds. You can invest in these kinds of assets within a Stocks and Shares ISA, meaning that you can potentially shelter your capital gains from HMRC. This is a higher-risk strategy though. In investing, risk is directly related to reward. In other words, the higher the potential return of an investment, the more chance there is of losing money.
Here are some ISA investment options to earn the best returns.
What are the Best Ways to Invest?
There are a number of different ways to invest and each has its pros and cons. Here’s a look at some of the main ways to invest and their advantages and disadvantages.
Investing in a Stocks and Shares ISA can be a very effective strategy. One advantage of investing within a Stocks and Shares ISA is that all capital gains and income are sheltered from HMRC. This can help you accumulate wealth much faster. Another advantage is that you can access your money at any time. On the downside, however, you can only invest £20,000 per year. You can open a Stocks and Shares ISA with a range of providers including Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, Interactive Investor, Freetrade, and Nutmeg. Compare stocks and shares ISAs.
Investing in a SIPP
A SIPP is a pension product that enables you to manage and control your own savings. You control how and where your money is invested. Investing within a SIPP has several advantages. Firstly, contributions come with tax relief. This means your contributions are topped up by the government. Basic-rate taxpayers receive 20% tax relief meaning a £80 contribution is topped up to £100. Higher-rate and additional-rate taxpayers receive a higher level of tax relief. Secondly, all capital gains and income within a SIPP are tax-free. On the downside, you cannot access money in a SIPP until you turn 55. Withdrawals are also subject to income tax. You can open a SIPP with a range of providers including Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, Interactive Investor, Freetrade, and Wealthify. Compare SIPP providers.
Investing in a general investing account
The advantage of investing within a general investing account is that you can invest as much as you want. You’re not restricted by an annual allowance in the same way you are with a Stocks and Shares ISA. You can also access your money at any time. On the downside, you don’t get any protection from capital gains tax or income tax with this type of account. This means you may have to pay tax on your investment gains and income. You can open a general investing account with a range of brokers including Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, Interactive Investor and Freetrade.
Robo investing (where you invest your money via an automated investment platform) can be a good option for those who are new to investing. It can also be a good option for those who do not have the time or motivation to research and choose investments. The key advantage of this style of investing is that it’s easy to assemble an investment portfolio. The downside to robo investing is that you often have fewer investment options to choose from. You can open a robo-advice-based account with a number of brokers including Nutmeg, Moneybox, and Wealthify. Compare robo investing brokers.
Here’s more on what robo investing is.
Ethical investing is an approach that seeks to generate financial gains while also considering environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors. It can also be called ‘sustainable investing’, ‘socially responsible investing’, or ‘ESG investing’. This style of investing has become popular in recent years as sustainability and climate change have come into focus. The main benefit of this approach is that it enables you to have a positive impact on the world while investing. On the downside, however, there may be periods where these strategies underperform. The easiest way to invest ethically is through ethical funds and ETFs. These can be found on most major platforms such as Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, and Interactive Investor. Here is everything you need to know about ethical investing.
Social investing is a relatively new form of investing that allows you to follow or copy other investors. It brings investors from different backgrounds together and allows them to copy each other’s trades.
Social trading offers investors a number of benefits. One is that it enables those with limited financial knowledge to leverage the expertise of more experienced investors. Another is that it can reduce research time because information is shared. On the downside, it can be a risky approach to investing. Many investors in the social investing space do not have long-term track records.
Investing in commodities
Commodities can play a valuable role within a diversified investment portfolio. They can help lower overall portfolio risk because they have low correlations to stocks and bonds. Some commodities such as gold can also provide a hedge against inflation. Commodities can be highly volatile, however, so it’s important to understand the risks. There are several ways to invest in commodities. One way is through ETFs that track commodity prices. Another way is through derivative instruments such as CFDs (this is a riskier approach). You can gain exposure to commodities through platforms such as Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, and Interactive Investor.
Investing in real estate investment trusts
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are publicly-traded investments that offer exposure to the real estate market. REITs offer several advantages over other types of investing. One is that they offer a liquid way of gaining exposure to global real estate markets. It is much easier to buy a REIT than invest directly in real estate. The second is that they can provide investors with portfolio diversification. On the downside, REITs are generally more volatile than direct real estate. REITs are available on many investment platforms such as Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, and Interactive Investor. Here’s how to invest in real estate investment trusts.
Investing in emerging markets
Investing in emerging markets can offer several advantages. Firstly, there are many growth opportunities in these regions. Many emerging economies are growing faster than developed economies. Secondly, emerging market investments can help investors diversify their portfolios. On the downside, emerging markets investments tend to be more volatile than developed markets investments. This means they are riskier. You can find emerging markets investments, including funds and shares, on platforms such as Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, and Interactive Investor. Here’s how to invest in emerging markets.
Investing in peer-to-peer investments
Peer-to-peer investing has several advantages. With this type of investing, you may be able to obtain higher returns than you could get from a savings account. Peer-to-peer investments can also improve your portfolio’s diversification. On the downside, peer-to-peer investments can be risky. They are much higher risk than cash savings. Unlike cash savings, they are not covered by the FSCS. You can invest in peer-to-peer investments via platforms such as Zopa and Funding Circle.
The Best Investment Accounts for Your Needs
The best investment account for you will depend on your needs and requirements, not just the one that offers the cheapest fees. Here’s a look at some accounts that are suited to specific types of investors; like expatriates, long term investors, millennials and those looking for monthly income.
Best for expatriate investors
One option for UK expatriate investors to consider is HSBC Expat. This offers share dealing, single asset class funds, and portfolio investment funds, and provides instant access across the globe. The key advantage of this account is that it connects to your home account, for financial commitments in your home country, as well as to your local accounts, for everyday expenses in the country you’ve moved to. On the downside, not everyone is eligible for HSBC Expat and fees may be higher than those of some other providers.
Best for long-term investors
Long-term investors are likely to require a platform that is trustworthy, cost-effective, and offers a comprehensive range of investment options as well as comprehensive FSCS deposit protection as your investment value grows. Some platforms that meet this criterion include Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, and Interactive Investor.
Best for short-term investors
Platforms that are more suited to short-term investing or trading include Freetrade and eToro. These platforms offer commission-free trading which can be helpful in reducing trading and investing costs for those making trades more frequently.
Not every company’s shares are listed on every platform. So, if you’re looking to invest in a specific company’s shares, it’s worth checking that the shares are actually available on the platform. Platforms that offer access to a wide range of shares include Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, and Interactive Investor.
Best for international investors
Some platforms are better than others when it comes to providing access to international stocks. Hargreaves Lansdown, offers access to shares in over 20 markets. Three platforms that are good for international shares include Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, and Interactive Investor.
Best for millennials
Platforms that are popular with millennials include Freetrade. These platforms have excellent apps for mobile access wherever you are and offer commission-free trading on some shares.
Best for dividend investors
Those investing for dividends need a platform that offers access to dividend-paying shares or dividend-based funds and ETFs. Some examples of such platforms include Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell Youinvest, Interactive Investor and Freetrade. Here is more information about dividend investing.
Best for peer-to-peer investors
One platform for UK peer-to-peer investors to consider is Zopa. This was the UK’s first peer-to-peer firm, launched in 2005. With Zopa, you choose how much cash to put in and how long you want to lock it away for, and you’ll get a fixed rate. Zopa offers a range of accounts including ISAs. It’s worth stressing that peer-to-peer lending is risky and you may not receive the returns advertised.
How to Find the Cheapest Investing Broker
The cheapest broker will depend on a few things such as the size of your account, your investment strategy, the assets you plan to invest in, and how often you are planning to trade.
Once you have considered these variables, you can compare different brokers’ fees and charges and find the broker that offers the lowest overall costs. You can find fees and charges listed on brokers’ websites or in our broker reviews. You will need to consider trading commissions, annual custody charges, entry fees, and exit fees. Some brokers offer fee calculators that can be helpful in determining the costs you’re likely to face over time.
Different brokers have different custody fee structures. Some brokers, such as Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell Youinvest, have fee structures that depend on the size of your account. Others, such as Interactive Investor and Freetrade offer a flat fee. Depending on the size of your account, one option may be more cost-effective for you than the other.
It’s important to stress that the cheapest account isn’t always the best option. Generally speaking, you tend to get what you pay for with investment platforms. Those that have higher fees tend to offer more investment options, provide better customer service, be more reliable, and provide extras such as investment research and tools.
Transferring between investment platforms can take time, depending on the broker you are currently with and the investments you hold. In some cases, transfers between platforms can take months. However, there are things you can do to reduce transfer time.
The first is to check that your transfer instruction has been completed correctly and in full. This should help reduce administration delays and streamline the transfer process.
The second is to transfer cash instead of investments. Investments such as shares and funds take longer to transfer between platforms than cash. Funds, in particular, can take a long time to transfer because there is no centralised system. This means that the provider requesting the transfer has to manually request details from fund managers’ back office teams, and this can take several weeks.
A number of brokers such as Freetrade offer commission-free trading. However, it’s important to be aware of other costs. Freetrade, for example, charges £3 per month for its Stocks and Shares ISA and £9.99 per month for Freetrade Plus (which offers access to more investments). It also charges FX fees of spot rate +0.45% on international shares.
In terms of investing in funds, some brokers such as Hargreaves Lansdown allow you to buy and sell funds commission free. However, these brokers generally charge an annual custody charge on fund investments. Hargreaves Lansdown, for example, charges 0.45% per year on fund holdings up to £250,000.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to invest within a Stocks and Shares ISA. The key advantage of a Stocks and Shares ISA is that it shelters all your capital gains and income from HMRC. If you invest in a general investing account, you will have to pay capital gains tax on gains and income tax on income received.
Platforms that are regulated by the FCA can be considered safe. When an investment platform is regulated by the FCA, it is bound by the regulator’s rules and regulations.
FCA-regulated platforms are required to hold client assets and investments separately in the name of a nominee company or authorised third-party custodian. Meanwhile, clients’ cash must be held in trust accounts with authorised UK banks. This adds protection for investors.
If a FCA-regulated platform becomes insolvent, and investors suffer a loss as a result, they will be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000 per client, if you have balances with a single financial institution that exceed this amount, you may wish to consider opening a new account with an investment provider under a separate banking licence to ensure your deposits are fully protected incase of investment broker collapse.
It’s worth stressing that regulation and FSCS protection will not protect you from investment-related losses. When you invest money, your capital is always at risk because of fluctuations in the markets.
Investing is a long-term strategy. In general, financial experts recommend holding investments for at least five years. This is because in the short term, investments tend to fluctuate in value. A long-term investment horizon allows you to ride out financial market volatility.
The first step is to make the complaint to the broker itself. You can normally find contact details on the broker’s website. If you are not satisfied by the broker’s response, you can refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
You might want to make a complaint about a broker because of; poor customer service, platform bugs, website downtime or other errors.
You can have as many investment accounts as you want. There can be benefits of using several different platforms as some have strengths in specific areas. For example, some platforms are better than others for investing in funds. Others are more cost-effective for share trading. However, it’s generally much easier to manage and monitor your investments when they are all on the one platform.
It’s worth pointing out that you can open multiple Stocks and Shares ISAs. However, you can only pay into one of these ISAs per year and the annual allowance is £20,000.
Technically, there are ways to buy shares without a broker (i.e. through a dividend investment scheme). However, in general, to buy shares online you need a broker. A broker will provide you with access to the stock market and make the process of buying shares straightforward.
There are a number of benefits to using a broker to buy shares. Benefits include customer support when buying shares and access to valuable investment tools and research. Here is more on how to buy shares.