Fastrade to rebrand and change fees in 2013

Charles Stanley‘s Fastrade service – notable for being one of the cheapest ways to get CREST Personal Member Account – is going to be rebranded as Charles Stanley Direct in the new year. The firm is promising that this isn’t just cosmetic and the new service will be improved; less encouragingly, it will also be raising some fees later in the year.

While the new fees haven’t yet been posted on the site, they have been emailed to a contributor on a Motley Fool UK discussion, from where I’ve copy and pasted them below:

As a valued Fastrade client all of the charges quoted in the next section will be waived until 1st October 2013 and therefore the first applicable charges to your account(s) will be levied at the end of March 2014.

Annual Administration Charges
Investment Account No charge
ISA No charge
SIPP £100 + VAT per annum, charged pro rata six-monthly in arrears

Stocks & Shares charges (including ETPs and Investment Trusts)
Platform/Custody Fee: No charge if 6 or more chargeable trades are placed six-monthly across all accounts.
Otherwise – 0.25% per annum on all investments (excluding Funds and cash) held across all accounts (minimum £20, maximum £150 per annum), charged pro rata six-monthly in arrears

Fund charges (Unit Trusts & OEICs)
Charges relating to fund trading and custody will be advised in your welcome pack, which will be sent to you by post and email at least ten working days before the date on which you are upgraded to Charles Stanley Direct.

The following charges will apply from the date on which you are upgraded. In the meantime your usual charges will continue to apply.
Online trading (stocks & shares) £10 per trade
Telephone trading (excl. specialist) £20 per trade
Specialist trading 0.25% of consideration (min £50 per trade)
Custody charge for holding Bonds £30 per annum per holding, charged pro rata six-monthly in arrears

The unwelcome part is definitely the 0.25% (min £20, max £150) custody fee – at present, a CREST personal account costs just £2.56 per quarter with Fastrade. On the other hand, this probably represents the way that all UK providers will be going – once RDR comes in and the ability to take hidden fees through fund trail and platform commission vanishes, custody fees may well become standard.

In fairness, there is something to be said for paying a reasonable headline fee in exchange for a high quality service and transparency on other costs, instead of being squeezed by hidden charges all the time. And it speaks relatively well of Charles Stanley that they’ve announced this almost a year in advance (in contrast to rushed changes at some other firms earlier this year) and reflects the fact that they have a reputation for customer service that’s much better than most of the discount brokers.

But once again, it shows the difficulty of picking UK brokers and fund supermarkets at a time when RDR has everything in flux. Unless unavoidable, many investors are probably best waiting for things to settle down or risk ending up changing providers several times in succession as each overhauls its charges.



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