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Weekend reading: Who will win the platform consolidation prize?

Weekend reading logo

What caught my eye this week.

A reminder that platform consolidation continues apace. Monevator readers have noticed a Legal & General statement on logging into their accounts stating they’re set to be transferred to Fidelity. Meanwhile EQi has emailed me – and I presume others, unless it thinks I smell – to confirm my account is to be spirited away to Interactive Investor.

The L&G move is the result of a £5.8bn deal struck last October. After the handover, Fidelity will administer the 300,000 accounts it acquired in the deal, but your money will remain in L&G’s funds. You can also choose to invest in a wider range of other shares and funds, too.

Fidelity claimed when the deal was struck that acquired customers would pay “the same or less”. You might want to run the numbers to check this, though.

I must confess to a bit of sentimental sadness about this particular platform consolidation. L&G was the first place I invested my money, nearly 20 years ago.

End of an era!

Twist and shout

As for the tricky Scrabble hand that is EQi-to-II, I’m not hugely upset.

Interactive Investor offers cheaper share dealing than EQi and the assets being transferred are chunky enough for me to benefit from its flat fees.

So no need for me to hunt for a cheaper alternative using TA’s peerless – albeit eye-straining – broker comparison table just yet.

Still, it’s a bit annoying.

EQi deleted some of my old Selftrade records when it took over the latter a few years ago. That meant hassle with unsheltered holdings. I’d prefer it hadn’t bothered, given it hasn’t stuck around.

There was a Know Your Customer faff, too. I hope that doesn’t happen again.

Penny Lane

Who will win as this platform consolidation plays out? How many will win? Will the winners include you and me? What will we be charged?

It all seems up for grabs.

For example I like the super-dominant Hargreaves Lansdown, both as a platform and as a monster business. But I recently sold its shares. I fear its fat margins will be squeezed by competition from the likes of Freetrade.

At the same I’ve considered upgrading my Freetrade account to the ‘Plus’ offering. This would give me access to lots more shares as well as some other good stuff – including an ISA wrapper – at a cost of £9.99 a month.

Freetrade also recently launched a SIPP, again at £9.99 a month. The gap between the legacy and upstart platforms is shrinking.1

While still very competitive versus rivals, we’re not quite talking free investing anymore. At the least, sensible investors will want to lay down £3 a month for the must-have ISA tax shield.

The Freetrade platform is slick and modern. For an active investor like me it is liberating to shuffle a portfolio around without the friction of dealing fees.

So I see plenty to like, even with some extra costs. Which is heartening, given I’m a Freetrade shareholder…

However these add-on charges highlight that there will surely be some minimum cost wherever you go at the end of this platform consolidation – at least for those who want to deal in a wide range of securities.

Free as a bird

Fair enough – everyone has to make a living and we hardly want to keep our lifesavings with brokers who can’t afford to protect them.

But does such an inescapable cost mean Hargreaves Lansdown’s margins are safe?

You’d think maybe not, because its fees for share dealing might still look egregious compared to £0 trades with Freetrade and others of its ilk.

Yet Hargreaves just reported profits boosted by rampant customer share trading!

Maybe its wealthier customers don’t mind stumping up? Perhaps they’re happy to pay a premium for its very well-established platform, and the reassurance of its great reputation for customer service?

Maybe – but how much of a premium?

I think it’s fascinating watching the industry’s combination of consolidation, competition, and cost obfuscation playing out like this.

Especially as fresh competitors will keep emerging.

For instance the 14-year old Israeli broker eToro this week announced it will go public in the US in a $10bn ‘SPAC merger’ deal. The social trading platform already operates in the UK, but it could do so with a bigger warchest if backed by a lofty market valuation.

How could that affect the incumbents?

Don’t let me down

Remember you can try Freetrade by signing up via my link and we’ll both get a free share. You don’t have to pay for those premium features, unless you want them.

I don’t just keep inserting my link to Freetrade for the freebie share – though that’s clearly part of it! Nor even because I’m a shareholder.

I really do think everyone should give one of these modern trading apps a go. You might be surprised how fluid they feel. I was.

Anyway, have a great weekend. This time next Saturday we’ll be on the eve of our first post-lockdown mini-garden parties in England…

From Monevator

How to automatically donate share dividends to charity – Monevator

How I lost £436,957 trading Tesla shares – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Index tracker costs to watch out for – Monevator

News

Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!2

UK government borrowing hits February record – BBC

Cornwall overtakes London as most searched for location for movers – Guardian

Treasury raises £1.1bn in Natwest share sale; taxpayers still own 59.8% – ThisIsMoney

IR35 tax change for the private sector begins 6 April: are you affected? – Which

Scottish Mortgage Trust’s James Anderson to retire next year – Portfolio Adviser

Slipping? Retirement income prospects for Generation X [Report, PDF]ILC

The rout in long government bonds continues to roil the tech sector – FT

Products and services

Royal Mint gold rush causes chaos for customers – ThisIsMoney

AirBnB offers estimate of what your home would rent for [Top left]AirBnB

We both get £50 to invest at Seedrs if you sign-up via my link and invest £500 in 30 days – Seedrs

Yorkshire Building Society first to bring back 95% mortgages – Guardian

10 surprising facts about Bitcoin – The Big Picture

Eco-friendly homes for sale, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

A candid account of another early retirement gone wrong – LivingaFI

Will the inflation dog bark? – Real Returns

“I can’t possibly afford it”: how Covid dashed retirement dreams – Guardian

Bond declines ain’t so bad – The Irrelevant Investor

Get rich versus stay rich – The Belle Curve

Twelve truths – Humble Dollar

‘I gambled £50,000 on a horse and lost everything’BBC

Larry Swedroe: Have you been framed? – The Evidence-based Investor

Don’t worry be bullish mini-special

How to stop carrying too much financial anxiety – Incognito Money Scribe

Most people would be wise to assume markets rise – Of Dollars and Data

Ray Dalio and the power of setting defaults for optimism – AWOCS

Naughty corner: Active antics

Deliveroo offers retail investors a slice of the IPO action [Search result]FT

Donkeys – Enso Finance

A chat with Ted Seides, author of Capital Allocators [Podcast]Meb Faber

Analyst anchors – Klement on Investing

Is quality on sale? – Validea

The new Credit Suisse Global Returns Yearbook is out [PDF]Credit Suisse

Covid and politics

UK death rate ‘no longer Europe’s worst’ by winter – BBC

Report finds small number of Facebook users responsible for most Covid vaccine skepticism – Guardian

My mum believes in QAnon. I’ve been trying to get her out – BuzzFeed

Marina Hyde: How long until the next Priti Patel brainwave? – Guardian

Kindle book bargains

Business Adventures: 12 Classic Tales from Wall Street by John Brooks – £0.99 on Kindle

Money Saving Book: Simple Hacks for a Happy Life by Holly Smith – £0.99 on Kindle

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth – £0.99 on Kindle

Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Fall of WeWork by Reeves Weideman – £0.99 on Kindle

Buy a Kindle and you can sell all your leather bookmarks on eBay for cash!

Environmental factors

Government sets out £1bn plan to cut industrial carbon emissions – BBC

Gen Z’s high-speed rail meme dream, explained – Vox

Sperm whales in 19th century shared ship attack information – Guardian

Off our beat

The Great Amazon flip-a-thon – New York Times

Will I ever work in an office again? – Guardian

American Special Op forces are everywhere – The Atlantic

What happens when a firm introduces a five-hour workday – Fast Company

The things we go back to – Seth Godin

And finally…

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
– Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday! Like these links? Note this article includes affiliate links, such as from Amazon, Hargreaves Lansdown, Interactive Investor, and Freetrade. We may be  compensated if you pursue these offers – that will not affect the price you pay.

  1. If you open a SIPP you also get a 30% discount on Plus. []
  2. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []

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{ 44 comments… add one }
  • 1 Weenie March 20, 2021, 12:04 am

    Freetrade’s ISA is free if you have Plus, i.e. no extra fee on top of the £9.99.

    Plus (Inc ISA) + SIPP = £16.99

    ISA + SIPP = £12.99

  • 2 neonyoshi March 20, 2021, 1:43 am

    I thought freetrade was pretty slick when I tried out the offer. The reason I didn’t stick with it was because there was no way to access the account on my laptop. Or at least it wasn’t obvious how to do so.

    This is also the reason I don’t particularly like Monzo, which I only use for the shared pot feature.

  • 3 Ramzez March 20, 2021, 2:01 am

    I tried Freetrade general investment account. However they don’t produce tax certificate. There statements are hit and miss abs often you have to loom at individual email to figure out that tax rate used in income/dividend distribution. It maybe good for ISA where you don’t need to track anything. But for general account crucial reporting is still missing.

  • 4 two shillings and sixpence March 20, 2021, 8:32 am

    I was listening to a podcast where they said that these new mobile app platforms make their money from the spread between buy and sell. They implied that the spread is set by the platform. My understanding is that if i am buying a share on any platform the price would be the same plus whatever the platform fees are

  • 5 The Investor March 20, 2021, 8:59 am

    @Weenie — Yikes, how did I miss that? (By never leaving the tiny mobile screen, to Neonyoshi’s point, I suppose 🙂 ) You can see why @TA does the detail on our broker table…

    I’ve amended my copy. Certainly helps the cost case.

    When I think how much I’ve spent on dealing fees over the past 5-10 years it’s staggering how much better off I’d be if all platforms charged nothing for dealing. But obviously I am a rampant trader for my sins.

    Thanks for taking the time!

    @Ramsez — It’s frustrating when brokers ignore that sort of thing for sure.

    @neonyoshi — I guess there’s a benefit from a development point of view to focusing on the mobile venue, especially when trying to be very low cost?

    @two shillings — I’ve not noticed anything egregious but I haven’t studied the spreads on it or others in detail. Would require a full-on piece of deep research across many securities, I’d venture? The FX conversion Freetrade charges at least are cheaper than two other legacy brokers I use.

  • 6 Squirrel March 20, 2021, 9:44 am

    The livingFI post is fascinating! I’m glad it has happy ending 🙂
    It seems that on what concerns FI, the major issues were the higher costs of living single, which can potentially be compensated with changes in lifestyle, and the medical bills. The latter got me puzzled, wouldn’t someone FIREing in the US have medical insurance? Would it be less of a problem in the UK? As far I know it can be quite difficult to get an MRI in the UK so I am not 100% sure that something like the NHS would solve this problem as he mentions he needs several appointments a year.

  • 7 Vanguardfan March 20, 2021, 9:51 am

    Thanks so much for linking to LivingaFI’s update. I’ve often wanted to know What Happened Next….I read his blog with appalled fascination that anyone would survive five minutes in that kind of work environment, let alone decades.

    I do think that people pursuing FIRE so that they can Stop Work Forever are often pursuing the wrong goal (or have misidentified the problem with their lives). Those kinds of jobs with no purpose and crazy demands are not healthy for very many sentient beings (I’d say none, but I don’t like to be absolutist).
    And I also agree that not fitting in with social norms/peer groups is a bigger issue than many people admit. It’s what I find hardest about stepping off my career path, and I am much older than him and know that most of my peers will be facing a similar transition out of their careers in the next 5-10 years.

    I’m glad he has found love with a librarian. Much more sensible. And the adventure of children is a great way to create purpose and momentum. Life is about journeys and relationships, after all.

  • 8 Vanguardfan March 20, 2021, 9:55 am

    @squirrel. Yes the healthcare in the US is what keeps most professional people chained to their employers. It is not the same here. Chronic diseases are not the financial disaster they are in the US. Be eternally grateful but also vigilant to protect what we have. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…

  • 9 Vanguardfan March 20, 2021, 10:02 am

    Sorry I should say, accessing medical care with a chronic disease does not have the same financial issues. If you can’t work, it’s pretty miserable.

  • 10 Brod March 20, 2021, 11:48 am

    @Squirrel – in the UK if you need an MRI, you get one. In the US if you pay for an MRI, you get one. Subtle difference. And outcomes are not particularly brilliant – have a look at:

    https://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0252_health_outcomes_spending

    As Vanguardfan says, be careful what you wish for.

  • 11 Matthew March 20, 2021, 11:59 am

    Hopefully consolidations will avert future bankruptcies – better to make changes early in an orderly fashion.

    Maybe it’s a product of greater indexing that there is less profit to be made, but it should also mean greater efficiency with less duplicated research.

    Can we trust freetrade to not go bust? it’d be a hassle if it did.

  • 12 Felice Pazzo March 20, 2021, 1:09 pm

    I look forward to watching the movie version of LivingaFI life’s. It has everything, and would be a great “Trojan Horse” to get the real message of financial freedom across.

  • 13 Grislybear March 20, 2021, 1:22 pm

    Freetrade is good but lately they are putting a lot of shares into their “Plus” which means you have to pay £9.99 (£120 per year). Ok for some but for me it’s another yearly charge. I wanted to buy some GameStop recently but it was only accessible for those who pay for Plus, I bought it in my sipp instead. Sort of defeats the the object of keeping accounts separate.

  • 14 Matthew March 20, 2021, 1:55 pm

    Freetrade is trying to be 2 things – eToro, and Vanguard; we’re interested in it because its undercutting Vanguard, but to do that theyre relying on their traders using plus and the isa – are traders really going to pick Freetrade over eToro?

    Otherwise if they could still make a profit from people holding index tracking etfs you have to ask why Vanguard cannot charge less (loads of tiny accounts maybe?)

  • 15 Michelle / Fire & Wide March 20, 2021, 2:02 pm

    The LivingaFI update was fantastic – his blog was a big one on my own journey, his “I Could Quit” series & Dr Doom cartoons kept me sane many a time . The follow up comments show how much he’s been missed and are worth a read by themselves.

    PS Quiet is a great choice for a quote. One of my fav books that made me stop & think, oh – somebody else does get it….

  • 16 JDW March 20, 2021, 2:30 pm

    Some great links here, thanks. Particularly the Living FI blog update, very interesting reading for sure.

    Another one glad to see the Susan Cain book being shouted about (well, quietly shouted about!). It was a real revelation for me, I didn’t even know I was an introvert before reading it but always felt like I struggled to ‘fit in’, one of the things that has put me on the path to FI was thinking, ah it’s not just me, just be yourself. It’s helped me immensely, not just with investment. I imagine it would be much harder putting money away for FI as an extrovert.

  • 17 FitandFunemployed March 20, 2021, 2:38 pm

    I’m so pleased LivingaFI posted the update – it’s such a privilege and so interesting to read about his life/FI journey in such candid detail (hint hint to share a bit more @TA and @TI!).

    Now if you could also arrange a six-year update from BraveNewLife as well please…

  • 18 tom_grlla March 20, 2021, 2:39 pm

    Yes, the HL share price has been debated a fair bit by myself and a friend. He thinks the 0.45% charge is a rip-off. I think that the brand awareness is second to none, the Customer Service & IT infrastructure is better than most (a certain other listed platform has shown the occasional pricing glitch) i.e. I think that it has a decent ‘moat’ and this trumps the uncompetitive charges.

    One part of my brain agrees with you that margins (but what margins…) should be competed down. But another thinks that HL will remain the dominant platform. That said, I don’t have a smart phone, so my tech knowledge is from reading not experience.

    Calling the share price is harder of course, and Mr H & Mr L continuing to sell down doesn’t seem to help.

    p.s. Commiserations on the Tesla ‘losses’. I’m sure James Montier has something to say about the behavioural stuff there!

    I thought your comment on thinking valuation doesn’t matter as much as you used to think with the best growth stocks was really interesting. I hear this more and more (perhaps most notoriously from Howard Marks), and I’m starting to feel the same. But another part of me wonders if we’ve all got confirmation bias, as the momentum stuff has done so well for so long.

    Anyway it’s obviously a subjective thing, and I absolutely agree with you about doing one’s best to balance a Phil Fisher quality growth but with an eye on margin of safety. I would love to own one or two of the SaaS companies, but just can’t process the valuations – also I think many have forgotten that a number of the hot names may not be around in 10 years.

  • 19 ExiledWeegie March 20, 2021, 2:49 pm

    I wonder why Trading212 never gets a mention here? I have a Freetrade general trading account that I play with with money made from selling the free shares. But I find it clunky and the display of stock info is super limited. I hold a few AIM companies in my trading212 ISA, none of which are available on Freetrade without paying 10 quid a month. Is there something fundamentally wrong with trading212 that I’ve missed!?

  • 20 ZXSpectrum48k March 20, 2021, 3:22 pm

    While I agree that the likes of HL may be a rip off, I also think that focussing too much on fees is a bit of a race to the bottom. It’s a bit like buying funds who do large amounts of stock lending, you save some obvious costs but the risk-return is just very asymmetricly skewed against you.

    My first consideration choosing brokers is always return of capital, so operational risk trumps marginal differences in cost. The balance sheet strength of many platforms, especially the new FinTech brokers, is just too weak. Their ability to execute efficiently (or even at all) in illiquid and stressed markets seems far inferior. It’s another example of picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. The odd thing about these FinTech platforms is how bad their tech is. They still seem way behind my “old-school” platforms like JPM or even IB. They don’t offer even simple execution algo like a VWAP, Iceberg etc.

    That’s leads into the second issue: I’m don’t think they are offering a lower cost to execute. If I want to buy 10k shares, with the touch at say 99.95/100.05, the ‘free’ platform wants me to cross that full bid-offer. Because that broker is getting a kickback for directing order flow. So yes I pay no fixed charge but I still pay £50 MTM. On the ‘old school’ platform, they see as retail investor like me as liquidity provider and I get benefit for that. Yes, I pay £10 dealing charge but if I can buy at 100.02, that’s only £30 MTM.

  • 21 The Investor March 20, 2021, 3:36 pm

    @Squirrel @Vanguardfan — Yes, the medical costs issue jumped out at me as well. There’s a post in the archives here somewhere (I think, maybe it was a guest post I wrote for elsewhere) about how the NHS is an amazing resource for entrepreneurs in this country. It removes a big risk from starting your own business that is literally the biggest thing that stops some people in the US taking that chance. However that equally reads across to early retirement (which I guess you could see as a ‘business’, albeit a very easy one where you ‘manage’ your retirement pot in drawdown and get paid that income for doing it…)

    @Matthew — Thanks for sharing your thoughts, but — especially as a regular commentator — please try to watch your spelling and grammar and use full stops to achieve at least a minimal level of compliance. I’ve adjusted your first comment above. Some people will accuse me of being a ludicrous Nazi here, but I see it like the old ‘broken windows’ policing model idea. Comments that ignore these basics accumulate, and before you know it we’re the ThisIsMoney comment section — a place I don’t want to go. There are a couple of other regulars who just bosh stuff out (presumably on a device that doesn’t have spell checking?) and I struggle because I value their long-term commitment to coming back to the site. I have been known to delete/not approve new posters who comment in near-gibberish. (Yes, this is a benign dictatorship, as I’ve said before. 🙂 )

    I agree with you and @GrizzlyBear that it’s a difficult circle they’re trying to square. You make a good point about consolidation hopefully bolstering the financial strength of the platforms left standing, presuming competition hasn’t whittled away all their profits of course!

    @Michelle @JDW — Yes, @TA feels much the same way about it. He reminded me of the book in a chat the other day, so I revisited. 🙂

    @FitandFunemployed — I stayed anonymous partly because I’d meant to share more, but it always felt a bit crass when push comes to shove. Nowadays I’m managing a sum in the seven-figures, I’m not even sure it would be very helpful anymore. Maybe behind that mythical membership wall in the future…

    @tom_grlla — I started as a value investor and at the worse time — as in the best time — which was the early 2000s. In the same way as virtually all growth stocks won last year, it was almost as easy to find cheap small cap value shares in 2003 that went on to multibag. As a result you had a lot of hardcore value investors by 2010, and tech was cheap. I’ve deliberately (and painfully) evolved my thinking, but it’s still hard. I hope you read my follow-up comment on price to FireVLondon? 🙂 I wouldn’t say price doesn’t matter, although I agree it sounded a bit like I did. 😉 It just doesn’t matter as much as it seems to a value investor IF it’s a great company. But obviously even with a great company you can pay too much (e.g. Microsoft in 2000. Steve Ballmer gets a bad rap as a CEO because the shares went nowhere for 15 years, but two minutes looking beneath the hood shows the business did. So valuation does matter. But not the way three-month vintage value investors looking for P/Es under 10 approach it…)

    @ExiledWeegie — It’s mostly that I’ve not tried it yet (and my co-blogger doesn’t use these trading apps at all because he doesn’t trade!)

    It’s on my list to give it a go. I’ll try to move it up that list. 🙂

  • 22 Learner March 20, 2021, 4:02 pm

    A fun diversion on US healthcare costs since it came up earlier! I’ve found many non-US people don’t know the scale of health costs in the US (of course, why would they?). If you don’t have insurance, all costs are prohibitive and you simply try to avoid all treatments and checkups. Insurance with a high deductible (think $4k/year per person) runs about $1k per month in premiums for a couple with no kids, much more with kids and/or to lower the deductible. Typically your employer covers say 80% of that premium while you’re employed. Every bit of healthcare outside an annual checkup costs money out of pocket. There are subsidies and programs at various income and age points but whichever way you slice it, healthcare is expensive for virtually everyone, even if you remain healthy. I won’t get into actual quality of care.

  • 23 Al Cam March 20, 2021, 4:07 pm

    @Michelle (#15) & Others
    An additional take-away from The LivingaFI update surely was:

    “I mean, I was able to take close to five straight years off work and still have more than I started with, inflation-adjusted.” given that:
    “I retired early on a shoestring, something called lean-FIRE ….”

  • 24 Peter March 20, 2021, 5:06 pm

    As for the tricky Scrabble hand that is EQi-to-II, I’m not hugely upset.

    Interactive Investor offers cheaper share dealing than EQi and the assets being transferred are chunky enough for me to benefit from its flat fees.

    I had been with Sharecentre for many years, they have now been swallowed up by Interactive Investor. But in the 12 months or so prior to this happening i transferred to X-O.co.uk it’s part of the Jarvis group only charges for trades and no monthly fees. Seems to be working alright so far.
    Have you any thoughts on X-O?

  • 25 Charles March 20, 2021, 6:48 pm

    I made my first investment with L&G too more than 20 years ago when I first heard about index trackers. This was one of two companies offering trackers that were considered decent value at the time, the other was Scottish Widows as I recall. I’ve still got my original L&G investment but I’m phasing it out into Vanguard as I don’t want to go to Fidelity.

  • 26 Jon March 20, 2021, 8:44 pm

    @TI
    If I could add one thing on this site, it would be the ability to allows us commenters to edit our own comments. I don’t think I’ve ever posted without immediately wanting to correct a typo, or rephrase for clarity.

  • 27 Pendle Witch March 20, 2021, 9:05 pm

    The LivingaFI tale was eye-opening. At least it does appear to have a happy ending. What I did notice though, was a couple of pingbacks like so: “https://financialeditorial.com/investments/weekend-reading-who-will-win-the-platform-consolidation-prize/”

    Well, I hope you got paid for that, but possibly unlikely, no?

  • 28 Millsy33 March 20, 2021, 10:28 pm

    Hi everyone. Just wondering what everyone’s thoughts are on uk government bonds still? I currently hold the FTSE global all cap and the bonds in a 65/35 split but everything I read at the moment seems to say to leave them alone. I can’t figure out if it’s best to just carry on as I am or find an alternative to them. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  • 29 The Investor March 20, 2021, 11:57 pm

    @Pendle Witch — No, they’re lowlifes who scrape the site and rip off our stuff. 🙁

    @Jon — Yeah, I might add an edit with a five-minute timer. The whole site is just so rickety I don’t trust it not to fall over. 😉 But without wanting to be excessively school Marm-ish, the comments I’m talking about are not just 1-2 typos. It’s usually when someone has used a tablet I think. I realize I may seem unreasonable. But it’s for the big picture for all readers! 🙂

    @Charles — Those were the days, eh? Hard to remember that they were pioneers, you’re right. I encouraged many friends to open accounts with them back in those days. It worked out pretty well.

    @Millsy33 — A passive investor should invest passively, is the TLDR. Sometimes this will mean holding assets one strongly suspects will do poorly. But they might not, as indeed was the case with government bonds for a decade of being labeled as certainly doomed. If you’re an active investor, you shouldn’t be asking. 😉 (Not personal advice, of course, I don’t know you or your situation and I’m not an IFA etc).

    @Peter — I’ve not used, but I’d always defer to @TA anyway. Others might have a view though? 🙂

    @ZX Spectrum 48K — Well it depends how industrial strength you’re able to go. Hargreaves Lansdown fell over multiple times in recent volatile periods, as did pretty much all my retail platforms. If you’ve got a fiber optic to a prime broker two doors down then I am nothing but ‘well jel’. 😉

  • 30 AJ March 21, 2021, 12:04 am

    Freetrade doesn’t tempt me because it requires I use my least capable, least secure computer – a smartphone. Trading212 did not impress me. Access to UK equity seemed really limited when they had demo accounts. It looks cheap for US trades but the whole things smacks of exploiting the inexperienced on meme shares. X-O has limitations and annoyances but I’ll probably stick with it.

    @TI II bought TD Direct, who I had an account with. Expect any promises to have a shelf life.

    @tom_grlla I have a HL account and shares in the company. I’m on the fence on both. RDR induced changes meant 6 pounds turned into hundreds. I should transfer but past experience makes me wary here – every time I take such actions something happens to erase any gains. The shares are red ink but I don’t know how much of that is the general malaise in UK stock. Though that may be the general malaise in my stock picking.

  • 31 BBlimp March 21, 2021, 9:32 am

    I don’t often read the bbc, so was glad to see the article that remainers have finally accepted that rather than having ‘the worst death toll in the world’ it was in fact the seventh in Europe.

    By the time it’s all done with it’ll likely be far lower again as we appear to be the only country in Europe that was capable of recognising a pandemic called for speedily providing assistance to a range of vaccine manufacturers to develop and produce vaccines. Had the EU acted as we had at the procurement stage there would be more vaccines in the world now – hundreds of millions of extra doses. Mind you looking at their bungled attempts to vaccinate their populations there might just be hundreds of millions of fuller fridges.

  • 32 Michelle / Fire & Wide March 21, 2021, 10:36 am

    @Al Cam (#23) et al.

    For sure! I think if you offered pretty much anybody the option of 5 years of no work & ending up with more money than when you started, you’d jump at it – right?

    Obviously a bit of luck on the timing – but it’s surprising how often things work out one way or another. Adapt, adapt, adapt

    But in all honesty – it’s why you will find I will always tend to try things & say yes to opportunities. Rarely regret doing something vs not. Sat morning hangovers the one exception to the rule?

  • 33 DriftGlass March 21, 2021, 11:02 am

    >UK death rate ‘no longer Europe’s worst’

    It never was, as a careful reading of the in-article data tells you. And this factoid is still faithfully wheeled out constantly.

    Honestly, the state broadcaster has been the biggest purveyor of covid spook stories. They will have a lot to answer for.

  • 34 DriftGlass March 21, 2021, 11:14 am

    BTW, leaving a comment here is very janky, at least on my iphone. It’s annoying to go back and edit – lag moving the cursor, it flies about to random places, insensitive tapping, etc. Sometimes easier to just delete everything and start again.

  • 35 The Accumulator March 21, 2021, 12:20 pm

    @ Michelle and Vanguardfan – 100% on Livingafi – probably the most searingly frank, humorous and relatable FI blogger I’ve read.

    @FitandFunemployed – haha. I hear you about sharing. It’s a hard line to walk because you don’t want to be self-indulgent or irrelevant. The Investor has written some super-personal stuff that I thought amazing. It’ll be buried in the archives somewhere.

    @ JDW and Michelle – Quiet was a breakthrough for me too. Helped me realise I wasn’t broken, just not an extrovert.

  • 36 Naeclue March 21, 2021, 1:38 pm

    I invested with L&G as well. They were very early providers of tracker funds at competitive prices in the UK. Other companies provided UK trackers, but L&G provided them for overseas markets. For some reason though they failed to keep up with competitors. I transfered out to Alliance Trust Savings as they offered rebates of trail commission. For several years it was cheaper to hold L&G and other funds with brokers offering rebates than directly with the fund providers. I thought that might all change with the RDR legislation banning commission on funds, but noted that L&G continued to offer expensive “retail” class units to direct customers instead of their “clean” share classes.

    It is a shame about L&G, especially as Vanguard have shown that direct to consumer does work.

  • 37 Andrew March 21, 2021, 1:47 pm

    >I don’t often read the bbc, so was glad to see the article that remainers have finally accepted that rather than having ‘the worst death toll in the world’ it was in fact the seventh in Europe.

    Here come the Brexit ghouls, unable to process information, unable to see the word ‘remained’ without assuming it says ‘remainers’, gloating about the deaths and possible deaths of thousands, seeing glory in being the seventh WORST country in Europe, unable to process the fact that over a million Brits live in the EU so it’s not just Johnny Foreigner suffering and dying.

    Still, it was a great comment section till they came along and I raise my voice in praising the LivingaFI article.

  • 38 Neverland March 22, 2021, 9:39 am

    The LivingaFI article just shows that if you are going to break away from the herd you have to be into it as a family unit

    The only thing that happened was he got diagnosed with a long term illness and his wife left him taking half their money with her (if you read the section of the blog on 2010 or 2011, she had form)

    It is no coincidence many FI type blogs are written by single people

  • 39 Andrew March 22, 2021, 12:17 pm

    @Neverland:

    >(if you read the section of the blog on 2010 or 2011, she had form)

    The blog seems to start in 2014 – I had a good trawl around looking for the hot goss you mention but couldn’t find anything. There’s a mention of them moving into a house bigger than they need but no blame is attached to one party or the other. If you can find that article I’d love to read it.

  • 40 Stonebridge Kestrel March 22, 2021, 6:49 pm

    @TI
    @Charles
    @Naeclue

    By coincidence I was sorting through some ancient paperwork at the weekend and I came across a very early L&G ISA Statement, dated August 2001. It looks like I increased my monthly contribution from £100 to £150 in March 2001, buying their UK Index Trust. The value at the end of July was £1567.05.

    I kept investing regularly in the same fund until 2015, when I transferred it all to iWeb and bought Vanguard Lifestrategy 100 instead. At that point it had grown to over 100K, and now (with continuing contributions) it’s worth quite a lot more than that.

    So, I too have a tiny residual fondness for L&G !

  • 41 BillD March 23, 2021, 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on the L&G transfer, somehow I missed that news.

    Another nostalgia tick here for L&G trackers. I took out an ISA with them in 2000 investing in the L&G UK Index Fund – their FTSE All Share index tracker. This was prompted by reading an article I think on Motley Fool UK noting this as one of the cheapest index trackers and that this was the way to go. So I set up a £100 regular monthly payment into that and pretty much forgot about it for 15 years. It was my first tracker investment. In the later years, I made some additional payments to use up some more of my ISA allowance. My only regret is not increasing the monthly amount over time when I could afford more – it seemed to go into cash ISAs unfortunately. A strange thing with L&G is the odd way they segregate the investments in the account as the lump sum contributions and the regular contributions, some of them being income units and some accumulation units for no reason I could fathom. In the end I liked having the income units as I got notified by mail about the “free” money which turned up twice a year and got reinvested. I still have this ISA and will transfer it to my other account going into ETFs as I don’t really need a Fidelity account or their platform fees.

  • 42 platformer July 29, 2021, 10:47 am

    Looks like another one down with Charles Stanley likely to be acquired by Raymond James. They’re paying c.19.5x P/E.

    “The Charles Stanley Board believes that Charles Stanley has a resilient business model, a strong position in the UK marketplace and a strategy to continue to grow the business. Nevertheless, it recognises the benefits of scale in a sector which continues to consolidate and need for resources to invest in people and systems to deliver excellent client service.”

    https://www.londonstockexchange.com/news-article/market-news/recommended-offer-for-charles-stanley-group-plc/15077595

  • 43 The Investor July 29, 2021, 12:31 pm

    @platformer — Good spot, cheers for sharing! I guess the bright note here is Raymond James does not really have a big presence in the DIY / platform market, and so I imagine it will keep Charles Stanley running intact, possibly even under the same brand?

  • 44 platformer July 29, 2021, 9:20 pm

    That’s what they’ve written in their intention statement per below. Interestingly they’ve also said they intend to “preserve the terms on which clients are serviced”. A bidder can deviate from their intention statement but have to make an announcement explaining why if it is within 12 months of closing (and should be exceptional circumstances really).

    “Raymond James envisages that Charles Stanley will continue to operate as a separately branded firm, doing business as Charles Stanley, a division of Raymond James, and will operate as a stand-alone division and subsidiary of the Raymond James Group.”

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