Where to invest?
Platforms or “investing platforms” have transformed the way we buy and sell investments forever.
Gone are the days where you had to call your stockbroker by phone at 8.00 AM to place a trade for you. You can now buy or sell shares, bonds, funds, trackers, ETFs and investment trusts all online, at the click of a button.
Online platforms have opened up DIY investing to a whole new group of ordinary investors, including the tech-savvy younger generation. It has never been easier to create a portfolio of investments all under one roof, with access to detailed online research and analysis, and all from about £10 a month.
Platforms also enable you to easily monitor the performance of your investments, with lists of your investment holdings clearly showing profits and losses, and cumulative totals.
But which platform?
Each platform offers slightly different levels of charges and fees. Some are based on the size of your portfolio, others on a flat fee, and others on the number of times you want to trade your holdings.
Whilst costs are very important, they are not the only consideration when choosing a platform. Each provider also offers varying depths of information and different tools and features. This does mean you need to do some research to find out which one best fits your needs.
Some popular platforms in the UK are:
Other platforms are available and a simple Google will turn up more options for you to consider.
I have personally used Hargreaves Lansdown, Fidelity and Interactive investor. Hargreaves is the more expensive option for most investors, but its platform does contain lots of quality research and tools. Fidelity is a good mid-range option, and interactive investor is the cheapest option for some, due to its fixed pricing.
All three are certainly worth a review when you conduct your own research into your preferred platform.
A stockbroker is an organisation that executes buy and sell orders for stocks and shares, on behalf of their clients.
Originally, they will have taken your buy and sell orders by phone, which they still do sometimes, but modern technology means that doing it yourself via the internet is the most cost and time-efficient way of dealing these days.
Stockbrokers and stockbroking accounts are more usually used by people who want to trade stocks and shares only, and not necessarily buy funds, trusts and ETFs.
As mentioned above, some platforms also let you buy and sell stocks and shares as part of their service, but if the platform you eventually choose doesn’t allow this, here are some well-known online share trading firms to consider:
Ideally, you want to try and keep as many of your investments as possible all together, for ease of review and planning. If you do think you may want to buy individual stocks and shares at some point in the future, then it would be beneficial to ensure your chosen platform also has this facility.