Investment platforms act as a place to buy, sell and hold all your investments, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re all the same. Different investment platforms offer different services, have separate charging structures, and as a result, matchmaking the right one for an investor can be tricky without help. Here are five things you need to consider when choosing your platform.
Charges for investing are unavoidable, but fees will eat into returns so you don’t want to pay over the odds. All investment platforms charge in different ways so it’s important to pick the investment platform that suits how you invest. Choosing the right one depends on the size of your pot and how you run your investments, as some investment platforms charge a flat fee for running your money, others a percentage. And some charge per trade which will be expensive if you tend to buy and sell lots of investments during the year. If this is the case, look for a platform where trades are free, although bear in mind they will charge a higher admin fee.
Where will you invest?
What do you want to invest in? Funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investment trusts, shares and bonds are all available on platforms. But not all offer each and everyone so make sure you check before setting up an account. You don’t want to open up more than one account and double up on administration fees.
Do you need a helping hand?
Consider whether you need help choosing your investments. Platforms don’t offer independent financial advice — if you need that level of support, look for a qualified and regulated adviser — but many have recommended fund lists, useful portfolio- building tools and information about investments offered and how to go about choosing funds. Some are packed with information from in-house advisers and analysts, offering comprehensive shares and fund data. There might also be a choice of ready-made portfolios on offer, designed for people with particular needs.
If you’re handing over your savings pot to a platform, you are likely to want good customer service and technology to be top notch. There are plenty of platforms that pride themselves on a high standard of customer service and will most likely charge higher fees. Yet others offer cut-price fees and no-frills service. Make sure you get what you pay for.
It’s no good investing with a platform which has a difficult-to-navigate website. If you want to be able to track your investments on an app, consider this in your search.
Use Compare+Invest to understand which platforms cater for your investment needs at which price. The individual platform pages will give you an idea of the quality of the service, products and investments on offer. Example investors may also help you to figure out what you want and need from a platform.