Good Money Guide Home > Compare Investment Platforms

Compare investment platforms and you could get a better deal on your investing. The best investment brokers can offer cheaper commission, lower fees, and educational tools as well as easy to use online platforms. This list contains investment providers that offer services in the UK.

Investment AccountAccount OptionsInvestments AvailableStandard FeesMore Info

Interactive Investor

General Account
SIPP
ISA
Junior ISA
Shares
Funds
ETFs
Bonds
International Shares
Account Fee: £9.99
Regular: £7.99
Discount: £3.99
US Shares: £4.99
Exit Fees: £0
See Offer

Hargreaves Lansdown

General Account
SIPP
Junior SIPP
ISA
Junior ISA
Wealth Management
Derivatives
Shares
Funds
ETFs
Bonds
International Shares
Account Fee: 0.25% yearly
Regular: £11.95
Discount: £5.95
US Shares: £11.95
Exit Fees: £0
See Offer

Saxo Capital Markets

General Account
SIPP
ISA
Derivatives
Shares
Funds
ETFs
Bonds
International Shares
Account Fee: £0
Regular: 0.10%
Discount: 0.05%
US Shares: 2c per share
Exit Fees: £0
See Offer

Nutmeg

General Account
SIPP
ISA
Premade ETF FundsAccount Fee: 0.75% yearly
Regular: £0
Discount: £0
US Shares: na
Exit Fees: £0
See Offer

IG

General Account
ISA
Derivatives
Shares
Funds
ETFs
Bonds
International Shares
Account Fee: £0
Regular: £8
Discount: £3
US Shares: £0
Exit Fees: £0
See Offer
Your capital is at risk.

AJ Bell

General Account
SIPP
Junior SIPP
ISA
Junior ISA
Shares
Funds
ETFs
Bonds
International Shares
Account Fee: 0.25% yearly
Dealing charge: From £1.50 per online deal
US Shares: £9.95 plus FX charges
Exit Fees: £0 for cash £9.95 per holding.
See Offer
Capital at risk

Compare The Different Types Of Investment Platform

Compare stocks and shares ISAs
Investing in stocks and shares through an 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.
Compare SIPP Providers

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.

Compare 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 sustainable investing brokers and find out how to start ethical investing.
Compare Robo Investing Platforms

Compare robo investing platformsto help make your investing easier. The best 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.

Compare Junior ISAs

Junior ISA investment platforms can offer you the ability to invest for your children through tax efficient Junior ISAs. Compare brokers that offer Junior ISAs so you can invest tax free on behalf of your children when they reach 18. Here’s how Junior ISA’s work.

Compare 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.

Compare Crowdfunding Platforms

Crowd investing platforms can offer great ways for startups to raise capital and for investors to earn returns when businesses perform. Compare crowd investing platforms to choose the best crowd investing platform for your needs and find out more about how to choose the best crowdfunding platform here.

Compare Wealth Managers

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

Compare bond brokers who can offer access to fixed income investments like corporate and government bonds.  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
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

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. Here is how to invest in shares through a share dealing account.

Which is the Best Investment Platform?

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.

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 for the Best Broker

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.

It’s also a good idea to check user reviews of a few different platforms when comparing investment platforms. Here are independent, verified investment platform reviews. Customer reviews will give you a better idea of the platform’s true customer service levels, reliability.

We only list brokers on GoodMoneyGuide that are;

  • authorised and regulated by the FCA
  • independently verified by our experts
  • reviewed by our experts

Compare investment fund platforms to find the best fund platforms to invest in. Here’s where you can compare ETF brokers.

If investment bonds are your priority, compare bond brokers here.

Award-Winning Brokers

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 2021, three investing brokers that won awards one of our awards were:

Hargreaves Lansdown

Awards won:

  • Best Full-Service Stock Broker
  • Best Lifetime ISA

Hargreaves Lansdown is the largest investment platform in the UK with 1.5 million clients and £120 billion funds under administration. It offers access to a vast range of investments, including over 3,000 funds, and provides many other features for investors.

Where Hargreaves Lansdown shines is the sheer amount of choice it offers investors. As well as offering the most comprehensive range of investments in the industry, it also offers a full range of accounts including ISAs, SIPPs, and active savings accounts. Its customer service levels are also very strong. On the downside, fees are higher than those of some other platforms.

Interactive Investor

Awards won:

  • Best Fund Platform
  • Best Investment Account
  • Best Bond Broker
  • Best SIPP Account
  • Best Stocks & Shares ISA
  • Best ETF Investing Account
  • Best Junior Investment ISAs

Interactive Investor is a low-cost provider competing directly with the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell Youinvest. It currently has over 350,000 customers and £45 billion in assets under administration.

One key advantage of Interactive Investor is its flat-fee structure. This structure can help those with larger investment portfolios save on fees. Another advantage of the platform is that it is user-friendly with plenty of information for those looking for research. On the downside, it doesn’t offer as many investment products as some other providers such as Hargreaves Lansdown.

Freetrade

Awards won:

  • Best Commission-Free Stock Broker

Freetrade is a UK-based company that offers a ‘freemium’ share dealing service. This means that basic services are free but you can pay for extra features. Currently, Freetrade is used by 500,000 customers.

The key advantage of using Freetrade is that there are no commissions to buy and sell shares (there are FX fees on international shares). The platform also offers ‘fractional shares’ where you can buy a fraction of one share. On the downside, Freetrade has a more limited investment offering. While it does offer access to over 4,000 stocks, its overall offering is much smaller than rivals such as Hargreaves Lansdown and Interactive investor.

Investing Accounts you Should Avoid

It’s sensible to 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.

The Best Investing Apps

In recent years, investing apps have become very popular. Investing apps allow you to monitor your portfolio and make trades on the go via devices such as smartphones and tablets. All you need is your device and an internet connection. The key advantage of apps is the level of convenience they provide – you can invest wherever you are and react quickly to opportunities if you need to.

Investing apps can vary in quality. The best apps today can offer ethical investments, educational tools for beginners and different types of investment products, like ISA wrappers to keep your investment returns tax free. Some of the best apps are:

  • Well laid out and easy to use
  • Highly secure with two-factor authentication and/or biometric login features
  • Able to provide access to most account features
  • Able to provide access to financial data so that you can make well-informed investment decisions
  • Reliable and free of bugs
  • Available on multiple devices

Three top UK investing apps include:

Hargreaves Lansdown (App Store rating: 4.7)

Hargreaves Lansdown offers a high-quality investing app that enables you to:

  • Manage your investments and view your transaction history
  • Top up and withdraw cash on the go
  • Login with fingerprint or Face ID
  • Buy and sell thousands of investments including domestic and international shares, bonds, ETFs and investment trusts, and over 3,000 funds
  • Access fund and share factsheets
  • Create watchlists
  • Track market movements
  • See major commodity and currency rates
  • Access research from Hargreaves Lansdown’s investment experts
  • Set stop and limit orders

On the downside, Hargreaves Lansdown’s fees and charges are higher than those offered by some other providers.

AJ Bell Youinvest (App Store rating: 4.7)

AJ Bell Youinvest offers a straightforward and user-friendly app that enables you to:

  • Buy and sell a wide range of investments including shares, funds, investment trusts, and ETFs
  • Monitor your account 24/7
  • View your cash statement and transaction history
  • Edit and cancel existing limit orders
  • Set up regular investments
  • Place limit and stop orders
  • Top up your account using a debit card
  • Read market news and content from Shares Magazine
  • Watch investment videos
  • Enable face/fingerprint recognition for read-only access to your account

On the downside, AJ Bell Youinvest does not offer as many investment options as some other providers such as Hargreaves Lansdown.

Freetrade (App Store rating: 4.5)

Freetrade app offers a sleek, easy-to-use app which allows you to buy and sell securities commission-free. With this app, you can:

  • Manage your investments on the go
  • Top up and withdraw cash
  • Access almost 3,000 shares and funds (Freetrade Plus offers access to more securities)
  • Invest in UK stocks, US stocks, ETFs and investment trusts
  • Create watchlists
  • See your account activity
  • Open a Stocks and Shares ISA
  • Buy fractional shares
  • Create limit and stop-loss orders (with a Freetrade Plus account)

On the downside, this platform is quite basic. It may not contain all the tools and options that experienced traders require.

Compare the best trading & investing apps.

The Best Investing Broker Website

Investment websites vary in quality. The best investing websites are easy to use and offer access to a wide range of investments as well as financial data and research.

In the UK, there are a number of high-quality broker websites for investors to consider. These include:

Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown’s website is well laid out and offers access to a comprehensive range of investments including shares, funds, investment trusts, ETFs, and bonds. The website is packed full of investing content designed to help you make better investment decisions. A retention rate of 93% suggests that clients are pretty happy with the platform. On the downside, Hargreaves Lansdown’s fees and charges are higher than those of some other brokers.

AJ Bell Youinvest

AJ Bell Youinvest offers a website that is clear, well laid out, and user friendly. Through this platform, investors can gain access to shares in over 20 markets, funds, investment trusts, ETFs, and bonds. Overall, AJ Bell YouInvest’s offering is very comprehensive. It is not quite as comprehensive as that of its main rival, Hargreaves Lansdown, however. AJ Bell Youinvest offers plenty of content for investors, including investment guides and equity research.

Interactive Investor

Interactive Investor is another UK broker that has a user-friendly website. Through its website, investors can gain access to over 40,000 shares and 3,000 funds, as well as investment trusts, ETFs, and bonds. You can quickly search for stocks on the website where you will find quotes, charts and basic information on the stock and its sector and industry peers. Like Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell Youinvest, it offers plenty of investment content for investors. On the downside, the website is a bit more simplistic, in terms of data and information, than other websites such as Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell Youinvest.

What is the Best Investment Platform for Beginners?

Some investment platforms are better suited to beginner investors than others. Generally speaking, those that are new to investing need platforms that are easy to use, cost-effective, and offer access to products that are well suited to beginners such as ready-made portfolios, funds, and ETFs, as well as educational content.

In the UK, there are a number of good investment platforms for beginners that we have identified as suitable for anyone, whatever their experience level in investing. These include:

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a ‘robo advisor’ that has over 100,000 customers across the UK. It offers a range of intelligent portfolios for investors that can be adjusted to suit your risk appetite and style. Investing with Nutmeg is a straightforward process. You simply choose what kind of account you want to open and then select your risk level. You then choose an investment style (the choices are: Fully Managed, Smart Alpha, Fixed Allocation and Socially Responsible). Nutmeg’s investment team will do the rest from there. The downside to Nutmeg is the lack of investment options compared to other providers. With this platform, there is not a lot of flexibility.

Wealthify

Wealthify is another robo advisor that offers a service that is well suited to beginner investors. With Wealthify, you simply choose what kind of account you want to open (ISA, SIPP, general investment account, etc.) and choose your investment style, depending on your risk tolerance. Wealthify then builds your plan and manages it going forward. One advantage of Wealthify is that you can start investing with just £1. On the downside, there are only a few investment options to choose from so like Nutmeg, there is not a lot of flexibility.

Vanguard

Vanguard is another option for beginners to consider. It’s an investment management company that offers a wide range of low-cost index funds and ETFs. One offering from Vanguard that is well suited to beginners is its ‘LifeStrategy’ range of funds. These are ready-made portfolios that combine a number of individual index funds into one fund portfolio, giving you access to thousands of shares and bonds in a single investment. The LifeStrategy funds come in five different risk variations – from cautious to aggressive. The downside here is that the platform only offers index funds and ETFs. It’s not possible to buy other investments such as shares.

What are the Best Self-Managed Investing Platforms for Beginners

There are plenty of good options in the UK for beginners who are looking to take a more hands-on approach to investing and manage their own portfolios. Platforms for these kinds of investors to consider include:

Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown is the largest investment platform in the UK with 1.5 million clients. Its platform offers access to a vast range of investments, including over 3,000 funds.

One of Hargreaves Lansdown’s key strengths is its customer service levels. If you need help with your portfolio, it’s generally very easy to speak to a customer service agent. Its focus on customer service makes it a solid choice for beginner investors who are looking to manage their own portfolios. The downside to this platform is that fees are higher than those of some other platforms.

AJ Bell Youinvest

AJ Bell Youinvest is an award-winning, low-cost online investing platform for the UK DIY investor. Its aim is to make the process of investing as easy as possible. AJ Bell Youinvest offers a range of services for investors including share dealing, fund investing, cash saving services, and mobile dealing. Key advantages of the AJ Bell Youinvest Dealing account are that it is clear, well laid out, and user friendly. On the downside, it doesn’t offer as many investment options as its main rival, Hargreaves Lansdown.

Freetrade

A third platform that is well suited to DIY beginners is Freetrade. This is a good beginner’s platform because it offers commission-free trading on some stocks and ETFs which means it’s cost-effective for those trading smaller amounts. Another advantage of Freetrade is that it offers fractional shares (US stocks only at this stage) meaning you can invest very small amounts of money in shares. On the downside, investment options are quite limited compared to other brokers such as Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell Youinvest.

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.

In terms of the best DIY investment platforms, there are a few top platforms that are worth considering. These include:

Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown is the largest investment platform in the UK with 1.5 million clients. This platform provides access to a vast range of investments, including over 3,000 funds. Hargreaves Lansdown won the Good Money Guide 2021 award for Best Full-Service Stock Broker.

Where Hargreaves Lansdown excels is the amount of choice it offers investors. As well as offering a vast range of investments, it also offers a full range of accounts including ISAs, SIPPs, and active savings accounts. Customer service is also very strong. On the downside, fees are higher than those of some other DIY platforms.

AJ Bell Youinvest

AJ Bell Youinvest is another investment provider that offers a good DIY platform. Through this platform, investors can gain access to a wide range of shares, funds, investment trusts, ETFs, and bonds. Overall, the offering here is very comprehensive, although it is not quite as comprehensive as that of Hargreaves Lansdown. One advantage of AJ Bell Youinvest is that its charging structure is consistent in approach across all its accounts. This ensures that you pay a fair price irrespective of the account or your investment style. Its fees are generally quite reasonable although they are higher than those of some low-cost brokers.

Interactive Investor

Interactive Investor is a low-cost provider competing directly with the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell. Through its user-friendly website, investors can gain access to over 40,000 shares and 3,000 funds, as well as investment trusts, ETFs, and bonds. One key advantage of Interactive Investor is its flat-fee structure. This structure can help those with larger investment portfolios save on fees. On the downside, it doesn’t offer the same amount of investing tools and research as some other providers such as Hargreaves Lansdown do.

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.

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
  • Crypto-assets

Looking to trade 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

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

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.

Investing ethically

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.

Compare ESG investing platforms.

Social 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.

Here’s how to weigh up the value of commission-free brokers.

Best for those looking for specific company shares

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.

Investing FAQs

What is the quickest way to transfer between investment platforms?

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.

Can you invest commission free?

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.

Should you choose a general investing account or a Stocks and Shares ISA?

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.

Are investment platforms safe?

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.

Can you invest for short term gains?

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.

How do I complain about an investing broker?

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.

How many investment accounts can you have?

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.

Can you buy shares online without a broker?

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.

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