Description: Shares.io is a social investing app that lets you invest in over 1,500 US stocks with very low costs. The app was founded in 2021 by serial entrepreneur Ben Chemla and recently raised $40m in series A before their UK launch in 2022.
A good choice for new investors to get started with small amounts to invest and who want to see what their friends are investing in.
- Follow your friends investments
- Very low pricing
- Fractional shares
- US stocks only
- No ISA or SIPP
Platform & App
Research & Analysis
Shares.io is cheap! It was one of the main things I discussed with Ben Chemla, the Shares.io CEO. I wanted to know how they make money with such low fees. He told me:
We do not operate any payment-for-order flow and aim to be transparent with a very clear business model.
At the moment Shares.io charges £1 every time you deal, there are no custody charges, and you only pay to deposit funds if you use a debit card (2%). If you compare that to IG, who charge, £3-£8 per US deal, or Hargreaves Lansdown’s £5.95, they are very cheap. Especially as custody fees from share dealing platforms like AJ Bell are 0.25% a year or Interactive Investor £4.99 a month can quickly add up.
They also claim to not charge any additional FX fees (these are included in the £1 dealing fee), which is odd because this is how the majority of investment platforms aim to make money these days. Most UK and European investors want to invest in American stocks, so if half the order flow is going into USD, it’s a good way to charge customers, in particularly as the costs are built into the spread, so clients don’t really see them.
In time, Shares.io will launch premium investor accounts that come with a monthly subscription or ISAs and SIPPs in the UK. However, these are not available yet, so you don’t get any tax breaks on profits and you have to invest in a general investment account.
This is where shares let themselves down a little. You can only invest in US shares. As I said it’s a good way to do this as they are so cheap, but they still only have access to around 1,500 US stocks versus someone like Interactive Brokers, which give almost complete market coverage and also charge £1 (or 0.05%) per deal or 0.002% in FX charges.
However, with Shares.io you can buy fractional shares, which is great if you are a small investor and can’t shell out nearly $1,000 for 1 Tesla share ($261), 1 Amazon share ($127), 1 Netflix share ($376) and 1 Apple share ($176). So instead if you want to get started with just $200 a month you can set up recurring orders to buy $50 of each to gradually build up a position.
Platform & App
No desktop, just an app which is a bit of a shame, because as investors grow, I think looking at your portfolio on a desktop or laptop makes researching stocks easier, especially if they are part of the shares.io social scene.
The app is slick though, as you’d expect from seasoned tech professionals and a team that includes people from Wise (a company that truly has disrupted financial services).
When I tested the app, I bought $100 worth of Apple shares, it took about 5 minutes from downloading the app, to getting verified to dealing. Thankfully they accept Apple Pay, so I didn’t have to go searching for my debit card. Plus, you can schedule orders if the market is closed (which the US is as I’m writing this) so you don’t forget to invest. I’ve done that quite a few times, so it’s handy to have a market on open order ready to go, so you can “invest and forget” (A good investment strategy for long-term capital growth if you’re asking).
Research & Analysis
You can see all the pertinent information about how healthy a stock is. Basic, but perfect for beginners.
This is quite a good feature of the app though as it lets you filter big US stocks down by dividend growth so you can invest in stocks that are becoming more profitable, which you can then filter by market cap, yield and performance.*
Diversity & Themes
Investing in issues is now more important than ever and one of the key things new investors want to do is invest in things they believe in. So you can see a list of companies that are led by female CEOs, or companies that focus on renewable energy. There is actually a great index that tracks the performance of female fund of fund managers from ASI, if you are interested.
There is a fair amount of data around stocks on the app, that Shares.io sources from Zacks. But it doesn’t really go into too much detail, so I think you need to include other research providers to make investment decisions. However, what’s there for now does give you an indication of if a company is profitable, what analysts think of it (is a stock a buy) and how big a company is.
I don’t have any friends in my social feed, but I was able to follow the founder so could see what he was investing in. The profiles don’t give away how much money you have or what amounts you buy, but they do show how your positions are performing, what percentage of your portfolio a stock is and what you’ve bought and sold recently. A quick look at Ben’s portfolio shows that he typically holds positions for three weeks, is top-heavy in the S&P and Telsa (also his best current investment), plus he’s recently bought some more Bitcoin.
You can follow Ben on Shares.io by searching in app for @ben. Shares.io say that Ben is “determined to follow back every Shares user and his DMs are open to any feedback”.
If you want to know more about how the shares.io community of investors can help you be a better investor, read, watch or listen to our interview with their CEO.
But one thing I really like about their social trading feature is that it’s for friends by friends. Unlike eToro which is a quagmire of social media fin-fluencers “talking their own book” to attract views to follow their portfolios so they make loads of money based on how much money is following them. It’s become a sort of quasi-unregulated fund management marketplace.
Overall, a great app for investing in the US markets for those who want ideas from their friends and network. As it grows, the power of sentiment and social investing will only become more relevant to everyday investors.