Being part of the financial community on Reddit and Facebook groups I hear this question almost every week. Which is the best Stocks and Shares ISA provider? Or which one is the cheapest?
There are plenty of articles comparing different platforms including the famous Monevator one. But they’re complex. This post has one and only purpose:
To show you the best Stocks and Shares ISA provider at Any given point in time.
Wow.. what a promise Michael. I will update this post frequently to make sure it’s up-to-date.
The Best Stocks and Shares ISA
Well, what does best mean?
To me, best stocks and shares ISA means 4 things:
- A provider that you can trust it won’t go soon out of business
- It comes with very low fees
- You can easily invest and withdraw
- Provides a decent customer service
With all these in mind, the current winner is…..
Halifax Stocks and Shares ISA
I believe Halifax is a decent name in the Lloyds banking group and it’s here to stay.
The annual platform fee is a flat £12.50. This means that they won’t charge me percentage-wise like other platforms do. It doesn’t matter if I hold £1,000 or £1m in there, I will still pay £12.50 which is great.
Beware if you’re with a platform that charges percentages. For example, Hargreaves Lansdown (one of the most famous) charges 0.45% platform fee when investing in funds.
Investing £100,000 with them will cost you the ridiculous amount of….. £450!
Buying and selling shares with Halifax costs £12.00 and there are some sales periods where you can buy shares for £3.95. If you invest regularly, like I do, you can set up a regular trading plan which costs only £2.00 per trade. Pretty good deal.
The only thing that bothers me a little is the 1.5% foreign exchange fee when both buying and selling international shares. I mean.. that’s a 3% roundtrip reduction to my initial investment and it’s another reason I don’t own many individual shares. I invest in global passive index funds.
The user interface is not so straightforward and not as intuitive as my old TD Investing account. However, after a few times, you get used to it or ask for help from the live chat.
Speaking of which, the live chat is a great tool and usually the support is very knowledgeable. Although it’s not available 24/7, they respond quickly during working hours. I also remember calling me once because my standing order failed to deposit the scheduled amount I had set up.
You can use the Halifax Marketwatch tool to check out fund details like fees, asset allocation, etc. It’s quite a nice tool that looks like Morningstar.
What if I want to leave?
The other important thing when selecting a platform is the exit fees. Some platforms charge really high exit fees because they want to lock you in. Halifax is average.
You can transfer funds out for £25 per fund up to a maximum £125. So basically, you’ll get charged for the first 5 funds and the rest are free.
It’s so easy to switch; I just completed a Halifax switch form and let Halifax do the talking with my old provider (TD Direct). The brokers are forced to comply with the switching regulations, no questions asked. The same applies when you want to switch from Halifax to another provider.
Transferring funds into Halifax is free, by the way.
How do Halifax charges compare to other platforms?
For the sake of simplicity, I will assume you hold a fixed amount over a year and perform 4 trades a year.
Have a look at the table below and see how different platforms charge depending on the amount invested.
|Amount||Hargreaves Lansdown||Interactive Investor (TD Direct)||Fidelity*||Halifax Sharedealing|
How did I come up with these numbers? See the resources links below. Here’s an example calculation of £10,000 invested in a fund for a year.
Hargreaves Lansdown: 0.45% annual charge * £10,000 + 4 trades * £11.95 = £92.8
Interactive Investor (TD Direct): £22.50 * 4 times per year includes trading fees = £90
Fidelity Investments: 0.35% annual charge * £10,000, free trades = £35
Halifax Sharedealing: £12.50 annual charge + 4 trades * £12.50 = £62.50
You can actually drop the Halifax costs even lower if you invest monthly for £2 per trade.
*Fidelity charges a percentage-wise fee when investing in funds, but a fixed capped £45 fee when investing in ETFs. So if your fund is provided also as an ETF you can just pay £45 instead of £1,000 which feels kind of a strange setup to me, but whatever.
If you want to be really geeky with your ISA research, then have a look at Monevator’s awesome ISA comparison article. It’s an excellent piece of information.
- Halifax S&S ISA charges
- Hargreaves Lansdown S&S ISA charges
- Interactive Investor (TD Direct) S&S ISA charges
- Fidelity S&S ISA charges
How to open a Halifax S&S account or transfer your ISA
ISAs run from April to April. When you hear someone saying “this tax year” they mean the period between April 5th to next year’s April 4th. Then your limit resets and you can invest more up to the new year’s limit.
For April 17-18, you can invest up to £20,000 to a Stocks and Shares ISA, assuming you don’t have any other ISAs. If you have other ISAs (like a Cash ISA) they all share your total limit.
So if you haven’t subscribed to an ISA this tax year and want to sign up with Halifax, go to the Halifax Share Dealing website and hit Apply Now.
If you want to transfer an existing S&S ISA then follow the instructions here. You’ll need to open a Halifax account and complete a 1-page transfer form. I just transferred my TD Direct ISA and the whole application process took me 15 minutes.
I recently learned that we, humans, don’t like to have more than 3-4 choices when making selections. This is the reason some very successful restaurants like Chipotle, ask you only a few questions. Large wrap -> White rice -> Chicken -> Guacamole, Cheese 🙂
With so many providers around, the competition is fierce. This is a good thing which only benefits us, consumers.
But it’s also very confusing! Which is why I wrote this article.
Common sense applies here too. A very cheap platform, a solid business name behind it and good customer service. Common sense also led me to avoid Halifax for my pension fund for now. That’ll soon come in another article.
I hope this guide helped you understand what matters when choosing an ISA, regardless of which provider you’ll go with. Please let me know in the comments!
P.S. I was not paid by Halifax to write this post and I’ll receive no money if you sign up.
Disclaimer: This article offers no advice. You should do your own research before investing. Also, I cannot be held liable or accountable for any errors, omissions or damages arising from its display or its use.