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Our updated guide to help you find the best online broker

[Note: A version of this article was accidentally emailed out by technical gremlins a few weeks ago. We really have updated this time!]

Okay, UK investors, after taking the pain of creating a whopping great comparison guide to the UK’s leading online brokers, we’ve once again returned to the battlefield to fully update it.

Eating a bag of rusty nails water would have been more fun, but it would not have produced a quick and easy overview of all the main execution-only investment services.

Fund supermarkets, platforms, discount brokers, call ’em what you will – we’ve stripped ’em down to their undies for you to eyeball over a cup of tea and your favourite tranquilizers.

Online brokers laid bare in our comparison table

Who’s the best broker?

It’s impossible to say. There are too many subtle differences in the offers. The UK’s brokers occupy more niches than the mammal family, and while I know which one is best for me, I can’t know which one is right for you.

What I have done is laser focus the comparison onto the most important factor in play: Cost.

An execution-only broker is not on this Earth to hold anyone’s hand. Yes, we want their website to work, we’d prefer them to not screw us over, go bust or send us to the seventh circle of call centre hell… These things we take for granted.

So customer service metrics are not included in this table. It’s purely a bare-knuckle contest of brute cost for services rendered.

Why should investors flay costs as if they were the tattooed agents of darkness? Because if – as the FCA predicted – you will see an annual after-inflation return of 2.5% on your portfolio for the next decade, then the last thing you need is to leak another 1% in portfolio management charges.

This makes picking the best value broker a key battleground for all investors.

Using the table

I’ve decided the main UK brokers fall into three main camps. These are:

  • Fixed fee brokers – Charge one price for platform services regardless of the size of your assets. In other words, they might charge you £100 per year whether your portfolio is worth £1,000 or £1 million. Generally, if you’ve got more than £25,000 stashed away then you definitely want to look at this end of the market. Bear in mind that fixed fee doesn’t mean you won’t also be tapped up for dealing monies and a laundry list of other charges.
  • Percentage fee brokers – This is where the wealthy need to be careful. These guys charge a percentage of your assets, say 0.3% per year. For a portfolio of £1,000 that would amount to a fee of £3. On £1 million you’d be paying £3,000. Small investors should generally use percentage fee brokers, but even surprisingly moderate rollers are better off with fixed fees. Many percentage fee brokers use fee caps and tiered charges to limit the damage but the price advantage still favours the fixed fee outfits in most cases.
  • Share dealing platforms – Platforms that suit investors who want to deal solely in shares and ETFs. Sites like X-O and friends fill this brief.

Choosing the right broker needn’t be any more painful than ensuring it offers the investments you want and then running a few numbers on your portfolio.

The final point you need to know is that this table’s vitality relies on crowd-sourcing. I review the whole thing every three months, but it can be permanently up-to-date if you contact us or leave a comment every time you find an inaccuracy, fresh information, or a platform you think should be added.

Thanks to your efforts as much as ours, our broker comparison table has become an invaluable resource for UK investors.

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

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{ 225 comments… add one }
  • 201 David February 18, 2018, 6:17 pm

    Hi All, 3 years ago after finding this site (a little late 52)i invested a lump sum in VLS 60 and also 40% with Iweb in an Isa, and both have done well. So we’ll I’ve have inadvertently gone way over the FSA compensation limit, I would like to do the same for my wife using the same fund so Q1. How do I reduce my own fund and transfer profits to my wife to be in line with FSA also Q2 is it best to remain with Iweb or invest directly with Vanguard, apologies for length but would appreciate help.

  • 202 The Accumulator February 18, 2018, 6:54 pm

    Hi David, you sell some of your units, withdraw the cash, then deposit same cash in your wife’s account and buy. To save faff, it would be worth checking with iweb if you can link your accounts and transfer the cash directly.

    The answer to Q2 depends on how big your portfolio is and how often you trade. I’m purely thinking from a cost perspective. iWeb is hard to beat if your portfolio is worth mid five figures plus and you rarely trade.

  • 203 David February 19, 2018, 4:56 pm

    Thanks The Accumulator, just a thought with the F.C.S. Compensation limit at 50k what do people with a few 100k do which these days doesn’t a great amount or do I worry too much

  • 204 David February 19, 2018, 5:28 pm

    Apologies I should explain after toiling away in the same wearisome (especially last 5) employment for 37 years I am due to call it a day in the next 2. Hooray!! The public can be twits. Anyway I hope to be in the above category with approximately another 50k total 150k but what to do about those limits? As I only have one wife.

  • 205 David February 20, 2018, 3:01 pm

    Apologies for my last text a12 hrs shift turned into nearly 16. Once you have maxed out on compensation limits for my wife and myself (Isa) is it a matter of finding a different platform and fund to continue investing, I imagine there must be many people with more to invest than the compensation limits. I wonder if I worry a little to much. Thanks.

  • 206 Gaz February 20, 2018, 10:02 pm

    @ The Accumulator
    Thanks for the link! I guess I fall under Young Buck, so I’ll look into Vanguard’s All-World tracker. That said, my gut is telling me to stick to Lifestrategy as I’m not confident in my ability to rebalance so maybe I’ll think about going up to from LS60% to LS80 or 100%

  • 207 David Hollinshead July 24, 2018, 9:29 am

    AJ Bell Youinvest are a percentage broker but have a cap of £30 (on ETFs, ITs, shares, and bonds). That makes them cheaper than the majority of fixed fee brokers! Best of both worlds (unless you want funds)?

  • 208 Pete July 26, 2018, 4:42 pm

    Not sure about the dealing costs entry for Fidelity or Cavendish online. I went through Cavendish to set up a Fidelity Fundsnetwork pension, and there were no charges for regular investment. I set up my investment wishes – proportions into each of three funds, and the money went in there each month, with no charges other than the already mentiond 0.2% platform fee.

  • 209 The Accumulator July 27, 2018, 1:46 pm

    Hi Pete, the £1.50 refers to regular investing in ETFs, but thank you for pointing that out. I need to make that clearer on the table.

  • 210 REBECCA EDWARDS July 28, 2018, 5:52 pm

    I am trying to transfer my ISA from Interactive Investor to Vanguard dues to the fees difference but II claim it does not exist! Hope they can sort it as it’s nearly £5,000!

  • 211 Malcolm Beaton July 30, 2018, 11:53 pm

    Just a thought
    In the Comparison site for Platforms-would it be possible to include the number of clients and financial size of the business
    In these time when safety or viability of platforms is starting to precede cheapness of operation -it would help us to better determine the Quality of the Platform

  • 212 Matthew February 8, 2019, 1:02 pm

    Just saw a sneaky advert for vitality’s isa which apparently gives a bonus of up to 15% over 25 years, of which there is a bonus every 5 years and the first of which is 2%
    The catch – you have to be invested in vitality’s funds to get it – many of which have charged around 1% despite vitality saying they are in partnership with vanguard
    The cost of the isa itself was i think 0.31% if you use their expensive vitality funds, 0.6% for other funds, and apparently zero if you somehow gain platinum status with vitality points, if that’s realistic, so overall not really a competitive product even among % brokers

  • 213 Neil Richardson February 10, 2019, 2:23 pm

    Hi folks, Does anyone know if there are any brokers out there which will allow a single view of multiple accounts eg the 2x ISAs and 2x SIPPs of a married couple viewed as a single consolidated work . I can of course do this myself or using an online portfolio tool but having this facility which take away some of the work and also allow meaningful use of any portfolio analysis tools. Thanks, Neil

  • 214 Andy P February 15, 2019, 5:06 pm

    I am new to the investment world and planning to make my first investment. I have read a lot on this site but still have a few questions. I would highly appreciate if someone can shed the light.
    -I am not planning to make frequent transactions, but I intend to invest significant (for me) amounts in ISA. I am interested in using low cost brokers and wanted to know how reliable are Iweb and X-O?
    -what are the chances of low cost brokers going bust and what happens to my investments in this case?
    Thanks for answer

  • 215 The Accumulator February 16, 2019, 4:00 pm

    Hi Andy, I’ve used iweb for several years and not had a problem. My needs are pretty basic though – the occasional trade once in the blue moon. iweb are part of the Halifax group. See the forum links on the broker table if you want to ask these questions of a wider crowd. No-one can tell you the chances of a broker going bust. Here’s the facts on the compensation scheme: https://monevator.com/investor-compensation-scheme/

  • 216 Matthew March 13, 2019, 3:00 pm

    Thank you for maintaining these tables, nowhere else that you can easily find on tinternet does it well, ie not telling you details until you click through

    Would it be possible to know which ones allow in specie transfers so im not out of the market? As that alone puts me off switching current % fee broker to vanguard and then later from vanguard to a fixed fee

    The halifax one could be a good place to park lump sums, ie one year build up with a % broker and the next year transfer to halifax, rinse and repeat

  • 217 Theo April 8, 2019, 1:29 pm

    Interactive Investor just announced that they are upping there fees a bit:

  • 218 StuartB April 25, 2019, 6:24 pm

    Actually the ii fees are going up quite a lot – from £22.50 a quarter to £39.96 (and some other charges are changing – e.g. non UK residents will now have to pay an additional £3.99 a month).
    Works out OK for active investing as they are reducing their trade fees, but much more expensive for passive.
    AFAIK (I have all their other emails), we were not notified about this (I have to assume I must have accidentally deleted two emails – one for me and one to my wife) as I cannot believe that they would not tell customers.
    Really frustrating having only opened the SIPPs last year – fortunately they don’t have exit fees so it’s off we go.

  • 219 StuartB April 25, 2019, 6:30 pm

    And ii’s web-site still shows the existing fees with no mention on the page that this is changing from June. Seriously underhand.

  • 220 StuartB April 25, 2019, 6:33 pm

    Sorry – maths wrong – new quaterly fee is £29.97 not £39.96 – couldn’t edit.

  • 221 Fremantle April 30, 2019, 1:31 pm

    Great to see the table updated again.
    What’s happened to the comparison tool? Is that still going?

  • 222 The Investor April 30, 2019, 1:58 pm

    @Fremantle — Unfortunately Broker Compare (the guys behind the tool) have shut it down.

  • 223 The Rhino April 30, 2019, 2:14 pm

    Inspired by Ermine’s recent posts could I propose a ‘Flexible’ column or note for the ISA related rows?
    heres my tuppence (if there’s a ball that needs to get rolling):
    IWEB no
    HL no
    Share Centre yes
    Charles Stanley yes

  • 224 The Investor April 30, 2019, 2:40 pm

    @The Rhino — Another: Selftrade stocks and shares ISA is now Flexible.

  • 225 David I May 2, 2019, 9:05 am

    A really useful table. HSBC GIC actually offers almost 400 funds from 20+ fund managers.
    Unfortunately it doesn’t offer the full range of HSBC index trackers.
    One feature that I have found important is whether the platform offers a dividend re-investment facility. HSBC doesn’t, so unless you use accumulation units where available (a good move) you can finish up with relatively small amounts of cash that you need to top up to the £100 min. I moved from HSBC GIC to HL – initially more expensive but now I that I use only ITs and ETFs the monthly fee is capped. Obviously you still ge the dealing charge but regular saving is pretty cost effective.
    Keep up the good work.

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