My Online Brokers




There are plenty of online broker comparison sites which will give you a pretty good idea of the services offered and charges of the many online broker and investment services.  A little time searching discussion boards will also help to assess their levels of customer satisfaction.

I use three online brokers and also invest in F&C investment trusts directly and thought I´d share my experiences and opinions.  I’ve calculed the actual charges incurred during the last 12 months excluding dealing costs - most online brokers have been increasing their charges so it is likely that the charges for the next 12 months will be higher.


A.J. Bell Youinvest. 

I opened a SIPP with Youinvest many years ago when they were known as Sippdeal and at the time they were one of the few online SIPP providers.  Since then I have added a dealing account and a stocks and shares ISA.  Their service has always been first rate.  Never a problem with website access except for routine maintenance which is always advised in advance.  Their response to emails has always been within 24 hours and it is rare that when calling them by ´phone you are kept on hold for long.  Communication is excellent - either by email, their website or their Twitter feed.  They participate in many IPOs and ORB retail bond offerings.

As with all online brokers their charges have increased through the years.  On their website is a useful tool that estimate your charges according to the size of your account, type of investments and frequency of trading (Charge Calculator).


Interactive Investor

Many years ago I started using Interactive Investment for research and set set up virtual portfolios to monitor all my investments in one place.  It was a truly valuable free resource.  About five years ago I set up a  stocks and shares ISA with them.  Charges at that time were about £20/quarter (now £25/quarter) from which you could offset any dealing charges in that quarter.  My only criticism would be that it seemed like a very remote operation - a dealing service bolted onto a fantastic research site.  Very limited communication from them and not at all engaging.  But it served its purpose - a Lidl rather then a Waitrose.

Earlier this year they launched a new research website and virtual portfolio service.  Judging by the reactions on their discussion boards - a disaster!  My own virtual portfolios were unusable as although you could trade retail bonds on their trading site they weren't supported on the research site - there are many other problems which can be seen discussed on the discussion boards.  I no longer use the research site.

I think most of these changes occurred around the time of their merger with TD Waterhouse.

The dealing site has also been updated.  I was happy enough with the old site and the new one is OK - I wouldn't say better but no worse.  However access to it can be difficult and more than 70% of the time I cannot access the dealing site due to "server not responding".

These gremlins were occurring at the start of the new tax year.  I was about to invest more in their ISA but decided best not to.  So opened an account with iWeb which is part of Halifax.



Iweb

I opened an Iweb stocks and shares ISA at the beginning of the new tax year.  A very simple online process that took less than 5 minutes.  There is a £25 opening fee which is taken directly from your bank account (not from the annual ISA allowance) and funding is again direct from your bank account.  There is no annual fee and dealing costs £5.  The website is fast, very clear and simple to use.  There is the option to have dividends reinvested automatically (2% charge max. £5) or to have them deposited directly into a bank account, either immediately or twice a year.

Iweb also offers a SIPP and share dealing account.  I haven't used any of the site´s research facilities so cannot comment on their usefulness.

Up to this point its with pleasure that I give a 5* rating to the service and highly recommend it.  I hope their charging structure remains the same - time will tell, and I am considering transferring my Interactive Investor ISA to them even though Interactive will charge me about £130 to move the holding across.  Of the three ISA providers that I use it is easily the most competitively priced and   simplest to use.

F&C

Not an online broker but as I still use them to invest in F&C investment trusts so I will give it a brief mention. Originally I had a low cost personal pension with them investing in their investment trusts. This I subsequently transferred into my SIPP. I still use their regular saving scheme which started as very low cost but now there is a £40/year account charge. As all of my online brokers have low cost regular share purchase plans I wouldn´t start a plan with them now. Their service has evolved from a pre-internet paper based system to online but in no way can it be favorably compared to the dedicated online brokers.



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