Now really is a great time to start getting into investing. Whether you’re looking to dive deep into the stock market, or prefer the idea of a beginner friendly, ready made stocks and shares ISA, there are plenty of platforms out there ready to help make investing that little bit easier. If you’re looking for the best uk investment platform for beginners, there are more than a few options to consider.
In this guide, I’ll be taking a look at the best options for beginners – those which offer authorised and regulated services to help you make the most of your money.
How to Pick the Best Investment Platform for Your Needs
Before you leap into the first platform you find, you should be careful to think about what you need. As a beginner, you are likely to look for a service which is easy to get into. However, the best uk investment platform for beginners is also going to benefit from a simple interface and setup.
You should also think carefully about how much you’d like to invest. It’s worth being realistic, here – and worth doing a little research before you open an account anywhere. On top of that, there are generally two main types of online investment platforms out there. There are those which give you ready made portfolios and offer a passive investment approach, and those which give you a more involved self invested DIY approach.
What to Consider When Choosing an Investment Platform
So – let’s dig a bit deeper and take a look at what you should be looking for in an investing platform as a beginner.
Ready Made or DIY Approach (Self Invested)?
The difference here lies in how you invest your money. With a ready made or passive option, you simply fill in a few details, keep your account topped up, and rely on the investment platform (robo investor or wealth manager) to do the rest for you. This might be a good option if you are a true novice to investing, and if you’re worried about risk.
Robo investing is a great choice if you are looking for a passive investment. There’s no need for you to manage or monitor your portfolio yourself. With no requirement to pick individual stocks or funds. That’s all handled for you.
A DIY platform, however, gives you much more control. These services allow you to decide where your money goes, and what you invest in in the long run. These platforms tend to be a little more in-depth, and will allow you to pick from a wide range of stocks and funds (index funds, mutual funds and ETFs).
However, many beginners avoid the DIY approach at first because of the risks involved. A DIY trading platform is a great option if you already know a little bit about how investing works and you are happy to pick your own stocks or funds.
“You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don’t understand that’s going to happen, then you’re not ready, you won’t do well in the markets.” – Peter Lynch
Peter LynchInvestor, mutual fund manager, and philanthropist
If you’re not quite ready for that, but keen to grow into it, there are a few providers out there who offer you a passive approach to begin with, and the option to go down the DIY route later. Crucially, the choice is yours – I’d recommended taking the ready-made approach if you are a true novice. Or you simply want a straightforward way to invest your money that you can set up and leave.
Fees and Charges
Of course, all trading platforms need to make money somehow. Some charge flat fees for trading, while others will charge you yearly commission on any money you choose to invest. If a platform offers ongoing fees per month, for example, it’s likely that there will be features and services that demand these charges.
It’s worth looking closely at fee differences depending on the type of product or portfolio you opt into. For example, some platforms may charge you more for an ISA with full management compared to a fixed allocation option.
Of course, if you are trading via DIY platform, be sure to look out for trading fees, as these will likely apply per purchase. You may even find that there are additional costs such as fx fees if trading in foreign stocks.
Crucially, you’re going to need to be really careful about fees. Some services look cheap to begin with, but you’re going to need to ensure your share dealing is fairly priced. Basic platform fees aren’t always expected, but again, there will be a clear reason that these are in place.
Of course, you should always think about the different products and services you want to invest in. Are you keen to open a junior ISA for your children? What about a private pension pot? If you want to really take on the stock market and invest for the long term, a full stocks and shares ISA is likely to appeal to you.
This side of things will apply to both ready-made and DIY options. You’ll also find that there will be options for you to blend several products together. Some platforms allow you to bring pensions and ISAs into one simple interface, for example.
If you’d prefer to go for a DIY platform, you’ll have a plethora of choice open to you with regard to how you’d like to manage your portfolio. Do you choose a managed approach or a more flexible portfolio system, where you are out on your own? In addition, there are portfolios out there which allow you to solely invest in socially responsible stock, which means if you’d prefer to avoid companies and brands who don’t fit your ethos, you can.
There are also a few transfer restrictions, rules and regulations which you are going to need to follow if you do choose to invest in a specific platform or service. For example, consider the ISA rule – you can generally only run one ISA a year, but most platforms will allow you to transfer savings in from your previous ISA for the year before. Some, however, may ask you to pay fees for such transfers.
You may even be able to transfer private pensions in through specific platforms. However, as always, there may be fees applicable along the way for you to move workplace pensions in and out. As pensions are also fairly sensitive mediums, you should also think carefully about if there are any escape routes – and, again, if you are going to face any costs for moving your money out of a platform.
Finally, yes – there are restrictions on stocks and shares ISAs, too. Self-investing in a stocks and shares ISA will mean that you may have to pay specific fees for moving stock in and out. Crucially, restrictions on how you can move your money and assets in and out of a platform could make or break your choice. Check these factors really carefully!
Finally, do make sure you think carefully about how you’d like to access the platform as a beginner. Do you like the idea of running everything through an app? Or, would you prefer logging into a desktop program? Many of the best platforms for beginners give you a choice, but there are more and more app-only services emerging. Be sure to carefully spool through them.
Do also consider customer service. You might not be able to reach out to some platform staff via phone, with email and web chat options being the only routes available. Will this appeal to you, or will it be a deal-breaker?
Now that I’ve taken you through a few of the basics, it’s time to quickly break down my picks for the best UK investing platforms that beginners should look into.
Best UK Investment Platform for Beginners
So – without further ado – let’s break these platforms down and see what they have to offer a new investor.
Ready Made Portfolio Platforms
Investment platforms which offer ready made and managed portfolios. Ideal for those who want a passive investment option.
Nutmeg is a great robo investor service that I’ve already looked into a handful of times (read the full Nutmeg review here), but it’s one which is really worth diving into if you’re a beginner investor. As well as allowing you to set up on an automated portfolio based on your attitude to risk, you’ll be able to take control of a socially responsible option if you care deeply about where your money is going. It’s really easy to use, and is very fairly priced. What’s more if you sign up via the link below you will get 6 months of no fees whatsoever – making it one of the cheapest options.
Fees and Charges: Fund charges apply; 0.45% applies on fixed allocation and 0.75% on managed and socially responsible options up £100k. Plus varying fund charges estimated at 0.17% for fixed allocation portfolios, 0.19% fully managed and 0.32% socially responsible.
Products: Lifetime ISAs, pensions, junior ISAs, general investments, stocks and shares.
Portfolio Options: Fixed allocation, managed, socially responsible.
Wealthify is another UK robo investment platform that’s emerged in recent years and is one of the easiest to use. It offers a great interface and user-friendly guides. For any beginner investor looking for a passive approach to investing, it is likely to be a solid choice. You can start from as little as £1 per month, and with backing from Aviva, it’s a company and brand that’s likely to give complete newbies a lot of confidence. As an added bonus, if you sign up via the link below and invest at least £500 (and keep it invested for at least 3 months) you will get £25 credited to your account.
Fees and Charges: 0.6% per year standard platform fee. Plus varying fund charges est at 0.22% for standard investment portfolio or 0.66% for ethical investment portfolio.
Products: Pensions, junior ISAs, general investments, stocks and shares.
Portfolio Options: Managed, socially responsible.
Moneyfarm is another excellent platform which doesn’t drill too deep, meaning that you can get started fairly quickly. The focus here is on fully managed portfolios. There are fewer products on offer here than with some of the competitors, however, meaning that you will probably want to take that in to account. As with other platforms on this list, you can get started by just answering a few short questions about risk. The minimum investment amount is just £500 to get started. Along with a competitive fee structure. Moneyfarm is likely to be a good fit if you want a reliable platform and to have your investments managed for you.
Fees and Charges: 0.75% per year on first £10k invested. The % then drops with the more you invest. Again there are also varying fund charges – estimated at 0.20% per year.
Products: Pensions, general investment, stocks and shares ISA.
Portfolio Options: Fully Managed only.
Ready Made with DIY Options
These services offer you the best of both worlds – meaning that if you’d like to start off passive with a ready made portfolio, you can, before moving to a DIY option if you’d like.
HL is a great choice for seasoned investors, though there are a few reasons why it might appeal to beginners, too. Is it the best UK investment platform for beginners? It might be a little busier than you expect, but the fact that you can leap from a passive approach to a DIY portfolio is a great option. There are also plenty of useful guides here, too. They hold your hand when needed, but not too much. Individual stock trades are expensive (£5.95 – £11.95). However there are no fees for trading funds. Along with just 0.45% max platform charge. Making there ready made portfolio options very competitively priced.
Fees and Charges: Investment charges apply; 0.45% maximum annual charge with no fee for dealing funds. £5.95 – £11.95 per share trade.
Products: Lifetime ISAs, pensions, junior ISAs, general investments, stocks and shares ISAs.
Portfolio Options: DIY and ready-made options available.
Stocks, Funds: 2,500 funds available, ETFs, investment trusts, government bonds, corporate bonds, shares in Europe, UK and North America.
Vanguard is an investment service which is likely to appeal to a beginner who is looking for less fuss, more action. It has a great option for you to move from passive to DIY if you want, and thankfully, the user interface here is amongst the easiest to navigate. You can choose from Vanguards low fee ready made portfolios, known as LifeStrategy Funds. Or pick your own selection of funds. However it’s important to note you can only invest in Vanguards own funds. Which is one of ways in which Vanguard differs from Hargreaves Lansdown mentioned above. The fact that vanguard keeps things so simple and straightforward is a definite plus for beginner investors.
Fees and Charges: 0.15% account fee per year. 0.20% fund charge on average per year.
Products: Pensions, junior ISAs, general investment account, stocks and shares ISA.
Portfolio Options: DIY and ready-made available.
Stocks, Funds: 79 funds including the LifeStrategy funds.
DIY Self-Invested Approach
These platforms specialise in beginner friendly, low fee stock trading. Ideal if you are looking for a low cost DIY option or you want to try your hand with stock trading, without investing a lot of money.
Freetrade is one of the quickest-growing trading platforms in the UK. Its relative youth and modern approach should appeal to most beginners. It operates completely through a mobile app, which might not appeal to everyone, but it does at least help to keep things moving along at a reasonable pace. You’ll have access to a handful of products to begin with, too. Sign up via the link below and get started with a free share worth up to £200.
Fees and Charges: No basic trading fees. 0.45% fx fee on foreign stock trades. £3 per month model exists on ISAs. General investment account is free.
Products: General investment account. Stocks and Shares ISA.
Stocks, Funds: Stocks and ETFs only. UK, Europe and US. Fractional shares available on some stocks.
Stake is a fantastic digital brokerage platform which pivots towards newbies and pro traders alike. It mainly helps to open UK traders up to US stocks, and with this, there are thousands of US stocks to choose from. With the platform boasting the largest selection of US stocks available in the UK. Along with that there is also the benefit of completely unlimited commission free trading. Making it the cheapest way to actively invest in US companies. You can also use the link below to sign up and get a free share in either GoPro, Dropbox or Nike when you fund your account within 24 hours.
Fees and Charges: Completely unlimited commission free trading. 0.5% fx fee on deposit and withdrawal only (not on trades).
Products: General investment account. Tiered package levels (starter, unlimited and black) available.
Stocks, Funds: 3,800 US-based stocks and ETFs available. Fractional shares.
Last but not least, Trading 212 is a great beginner’s platform with a demo mode and more besides to help back up its status as a solid trading engine. It’s very easy to customise and manage your portfolio through the web as well as through the app. The service is also great for showing off useful research, and will let you easily dip in to the US market with a decent selection of stocks. There’s also a large number of UK stocks and some European stocks. Again you also can also get a free share worth up to £100 by signing up via the link below.
Fees and Charges: No commission on stocks and no fees for depositing and withdrawing. 0.5% fx fee on foreign stocks.
Products: ISA, CFD and general investment account.
Stocks, Funds: Stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrency, CFDs.
Finding the best UK investment platform for beginners isn’t as easy as you might think. There are plenty of great services out there which help to keep things nice and easy. However, as discussed above, there are lots of things you need to consider.
So – what are my top picks? Nutmeg remains a brilliant choice for simplicity and flexibility from a ready-made perspective. DIY investors will likely find Stake’s tier system and huge array of US stocks to be well worth looking into. For the mid-ground, however, Hargreaves Lansdown seems to get the balance right with a clear interface, lots of support, and a great mix of ready made portfolios and DIY options.
Do a little research of your own also, and make sure to compare and contrast the pros and cons from the services listed above based on what approach you are looking to take.
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