Compare The Best Investment Accounts In the UK For 2021

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.

What's in this guide to investment accounts? show

Best Investment Account 2021

Interactive Investor

✔️ GIA, ISA & SIPP Accounts
✔️ Stocks, Bonds, Funds & ETFs
✔️Fixed Fee Accounts from £9.99 per month

Interactive Investor wins the best investment account in our 2021 Awards because it offers one of the best investment platforms, the most account types and market access.

Investment Account Reviews

We only list brokers on GoodMoneyGuide that are authorised and regulated by the FCA, independently verified and reviewed by our expert.

Interactive Investor Investment Account

Account Types

  • General Account
  • SIPP
  • ISA
  • Junior ISA

Investment Options

  • Shares
  • Funds
  • ETFs
  • Bonds
  • International Shares

Costs & Fees

  • Account Fee: £9.99
  • Regular: £7.99
  • Discount: £3.99
  • US Shares: £4.99
  • Exit Fees: £0

Winner: Best Overall Investment Account in our 2021 Awards

Investing with Interactive Investor

Interactive Investor is a largely online platform and the starting point for many of its services is applying for and opening an account. There are three investment account options covering Sipps ISAs and share trading. Interactive Investors offers joint account as well as corporate trading and investment facilities, something that’s its two main rivals don’t appear to offer.

II also offers cash savings accounts that access the best interest rates from a pool of more than 25 banks. For active traders, the firm has its own streaming level 2 price display system, for which it charges users £20.00 per month.

Interactive Investor Trading Account

The trading account gives clients access to more than 40,000 UK and international investment opportunities including shares, funds and ETFs.

Traders pay £9.99 per month and get one free trade for that fee, with additional trades charged at £7.99 each. Clients can trade in leading European, US and APAC stocks and shares, and can trade these overseas stocks in any of 9 foreign currencies, though you will pay additional FX conversion charges for doing so.

You can quickly search for stocks on the II website where you will find quotes, charts and basic information on the stock and its sector and industry peers.

Though there is less detail available here compared to that offered by Hargreaves Lansdown’s and AJ Bell’s websites.

Read our full Interactive Investor review here

Hargreaves Lansdown Investment Account

Account Types

  • General Account
  • SIPP
  • Junior SIPP
  • ISA
  • Junior ISA
  • Wealth Management

Investment Options

  • Shares
  • Funds
  • ETFs
  • Bonds
  • International Shares

Costs & Fees

  • Account Fee: 0.25% yearly
  • Regular: £11.95
  • Discount: £5.95
  • US Shares: £11.95
  • Exit Fees: £0

Investing with Hargreaves Lansdown Review

Hargreaves Lansdown offers a huge range of investments including:

  • ISA’s: stocks and shares, lifetime, and junior ISAs.
  • Investing: share dealing, fund and share account, ETFs, investment trusts, corporate bonds.
  • Advanced products: High risk and advanced solutions such as contracts for differences and spread betting.

They have a choice of 3,000 funds to invest money into and their fund and the Hargreaves Lansdown share account provides live share prices alongside simple, accessible tools to help you trade on the stock market. It is one of the most comprehensive platforms available.

The Hargreaves Lansdown website is packed full of content and often receives rave reviews for its content. A retention rate of 93% suggests its current clients are pretty happy.

However, in an increasingly competitive marketplace, its rivals are getting stronger. There are also signs that it has struggled to maintain its traditionally excellent customer service during lockdowns. For example, in November it experienced technical issues as its website saw a spike of traffic after positive news on the vaccine.

Hargreaves Lansdown Pricing, Charges & Fees

As the market has become busier and new, low-cost players entered the scene, Hargreaves Lansdown has moved to make its prices more competitive. However, it remains one of the more expensive trading and investing platforms out there.

It charges an annual fee of 0.45% for the first £250,000 invested and 0.25% for investments from £250,000 to £1million. Investments of more than a million are charged as 0.1% with no annual fee on values over £2million.

Its standard share dealing fee of £11.95 is higher than competitors such as AJ Bell and Interactive Investor which charge £9.95 and £7.99 respectively. However, HL lowers its fees as trading volumes increase. If you trade more than 10 or 20 times in a month, you’ll pay £8.95 or £5.95 respectively. It encourages regular use and becomes more affordable, the more active you are on the platform. However, if you then have a quiet month’s trading, you will lose these benefits.

Hargreaves Lansdown is also vulnerable against smaller, agile low-cost online trading platforms such as Trading 212 or Freetrade which offer zero commission. They regularly compare their own low costs against HL’s £11.95 share dealing fee in their marketing material.

Read our full Hargreaves Lansdown review here

AJ Bell Youinvest Investment Account

Account Types

  • General Account
  • SIPP
  • ISA
  • Junior SIPP
  • Junior ISA

Investment Options

  • Shares
  • Funds
  • ETFs
  • Bonds
  • International Shares

Costs & Fees

  • 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.

Capital at risk

AJ Bell Youinvest Investing Review

If you are looking to invest in international shares, AJ Bell Youinvest offers dealing in over 24 markets including the US, Canada, and most European markets. This means you can buy and sell shares in companies listed overseas such as Apple, Amazon.com, Nestlé, and LVMH.

In terms of funds, AJ Bell Youinvest currently offers access to over 2,000 products (of which around 500 are investment trusts) including popular funds such as Fundsmith Equity, Lindsell Train Global Equity, and Baillie Gifford American as well as a range of the company’s own funds that have been created in-house.

Overall, AJ Bell YouInvest offers a comprehensive selection of investments. Its range of investments is not quite as comprehensive as that of Hargreaves Lansdown, however, which currently offers over 3,600 funds on its platform.

Read our full AJ Bell Youinvest review here

Degiro Investment Account

Account Types

  • General Account
  • Futures
  • Options

Investment Options

  • Shares
  • Funds
  • ETFs
  • Bonds
  • International Shares

Costs & Fees

  • Account Fee: 0
  • Dealing charge: From £ 1.75 + 0.014% max £5
  • US Shares: € 0.50 + USD 0.004 per share
  • Exit Fees: £0

Investing involves risk of loss

Nutmeg Investment Account

Account Types

  • General Account
  • SIPP
  • ISA

Investment Options

  • Premade ETF Funds

Costs & Fees

  • Account Fee: 0.75% yearly
  • Regular: £0
  • Discount: £0
  • US Shares: na
  • Exit Fees: £0

Nutmeg General Investment Account Review

General investment accounts offer a handy way to make sure your money is invested once you have maxed out your ISA limits. Nutmeg offers the same investment styles as those across its ISA range.

A £75,000 investment in the fully managed style would cost £10.79 a week.

Fully Managed Nutmeg Portfolio

Nutmeg describes these as ‘proactively managed by our experienced investment team. This means they will regularly make strategic adjustments to try and protect against loses and boost returns’.

  • FEES: 0.75% up to £100k, 0.35% after
  • Average investment fund cost: 0.19%
  • Average market spread: 0.05%

Smart alpha Nutmeg Portfolio

Run by JP Morgan Asset Management by investing in against an index that has been reweighted to manage investment risk. Nutmeg says: “JPMorgan adapts your portfolio during changing market conditions, while using their in-house research to select securities with the aim of delivering better returns.’

  • FEES: 0.75% up to £100k, 0.35% thereafter
  • +Average investment fund cost: 0.14%
  • +Average market spread: 0.05%

Socially Responsible Nutmeg Portfolio

This ISA considers environmental, social and governance issues. The provider explains: ‘Our socially responsible portfolios (SRI) are tilted towards companies and bond issuers that have high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. Like Fully Managed, these portfolios are proactively managed by our experienced investment team.’

  • FEES: 0.75% up to £100k, 0.35% thereafter
  • +Average investment fund cost:0.32%
  • +Average market spread: 0.05%

Fixed Allocation Nutmeg Portfolio

This is a straight-forward, low cost ISA with no active management. Nutmeg says: ‘These portfolios are designed to perform without intervention. By that, we mean we’ll keep you invested in assets that match your risk level, and only review those assets once a year to make sure they’re still right for you. Beyond that, we’ll keep our hands off.’

  • FEES: 0.45% up to £100k, 0.25% thereafter
  • +Average investment fund cost: 0.19%
  • +Average market spread: 0.05%

Read our full Nutmeg review here

IG Investment Account

Account Types

  • General Account
  • ISA
  • CFDs
  • Spread Betting

Investment Options

  • Shares
  • Funds
  • ETFs
  • Bonds
  • International Shares

Costs & Fees

  • Account Fee: £0
  • Regular: £8
  • Discount: £3
  • US Shares: £0
  • Exit Fees: £0

Your capital is at risk.

IG Investing Account Review

IG also has an investing account through which clients can deal in physical stocks and shares including ETFs in UK, European, US and Asian markets. It is also possible to trade and invest in shares and ETFs via a dedicated ISA.

IG prides itself on its low-cost shares trading offer and in many instances, their services can be as cheap if not cheaper than that offered by competitors like Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell and Interactive Investor.

However, when you are choosing a broker price should not be the only consideration and you should consider their services holistically and how well they match your specific needs and requirements.

Read our full IG review here

Saxo Markets Investment Account

Account Types

  • General Account
  • SIPP
  • ISA
  • CFDs
  • Futures
  • Options

Investment Options

  • Shares
  • Funds
  • ETFs
  • Bonds
  • International Shares

Costs & Fees

  • Account Fee: £0
  • Regular: 0.10%
  • Discount: 0.05%
  • US Shares: 2c per share
  • Exit Fees: £0

Saxo Markets Investing Account Review

Investing with Saxo Markets is straightforward. Unlike many other forex and index based trading account, here the predominant instruments are stocks, ETFs, investment trusts and fixed-income instruments. Saxo’s platform has access to more than 37 stock exchanges around the world with 19,000 instruments available for investors. For active investors this is more than enough to handle.

Unlike Freetrade, Saxo Bank charges a fee for trading stocks. For UK stocks, commission start from £8 (min) and for US equities the fee starts from US$10 (min).

You can open an ISA account with Saxo. To transfer an existing ISA to Saxo, the balance needs to be more than £60,000.

The bottom line is that if you plan to do low-volume, plain vanilla investing, then Saxo Markets may not be the most competitive out there. Its forte is on the trading side.

Compare Investment Accounts Side-By-Side

Use our side-by-side investment account comparison to compare the best investment accounts by pricing, market access, account types and services.

Compare Investment Platforms By Account Type

Use our comparison table to compare different investment platforms by what account type they offer:

Investing PlatformGeneralISASIPPPensionJunior ISAJunior SIPPLifetime ISA
Interactive Investor
✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Hargreaves Lansdown
✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
AJ Bell Youinvest
✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Freetrade
✔️✔️✔️✔️
Nutmeg
✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Degiro✔️
Table last updated: 1st December 2021 1:44 pm

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:

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.

Compare stocks and shares ISA accounts

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 SIPP providers here

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 robo-advisors 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 (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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Which is the best investment platform?

Interactive Investor won the best investment account in our 2021 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.

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 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.

You may find these guides on how to invest useful:

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.

Here’s how to invest in international shares and markets.

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 Account FAQs:

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.

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