Comparing UK fund supermarkets can get slightly confusing because the term “fund supermarket” is often used to mean two different things. One is the discount brokerage through which you invest and the other is the underlying platform that handles the administration of your account.
In some cases, both operations are part of the same firm, as is the case with Hargreaves Lansdown or Alliance Trust Savings. You need to go to that broker to get access to its platform. In other cases, they are separate and the same fund platform (for example, Cofunds Retail) can be available through more than one broker.
To make matters even more difficult to understand, an increasing number of newer supermarkets outsource some services such as dealing, settlement and custody to third-party providers (for example, FNZ). With these supermarkets, the details of each provider’s service will be different, but some of the functionality will depend on what they outsource to this underlying provider.
The table below tries to simplify this by listing the major brokers that operate their own fund platforms, plus some of the cheapest brokers that give access to other platforms. It does not aim to be entirely comprehensive and deliberately leaves out many of the other brokers that simple rebadge the Cofunds Retail service, together a few other platforms that are too expensive, niche or generally undistinguished.
No supermarket is best for all investors, but certain firms stand out. If cost is your top priority, Cavendish and Charles Stanley Direct are usually a good option for the smallest portfolios, while iWeb (owned by Halifax, but with different charges) can be very cost-effective for medium-sized accounts and above. If the range of funds available is the most important consideration, AJ Bell Youinvest (relatively cheap) and Hargreaves Lansdown (more expensive) are a good place to look.