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.
Looking for UK stockbrokers to buy UK shares instead? Try the UK online stockbrokers comparison table.
|Fund supermarket||Platform||Available funds||Summary of fees||Minimum|
|AJ Bell Youinvest||Own||4,000+ (Web page)||£4.95 per purchase or sale (£1.5 for monthly investments), annual funds charge of 0.2% capped at £50 per quarter, additional £15-25 per quarter for SIPP||£25|
|Bestinvest||Own (uses SEI)||2,000+ (Web page)||0.4% per year up to £250,000 (reduced to 0.3% for SIPP), 0.2% per year £250,000-£1m, no charge above||£50|
|Charles Stanley Direct||Own (uses Cofunds Institutional)||2,500+ (Web page)||0.25% per year up to £500,000, 0.15% £500,000-£2m, 0.05% above, additional £100+VAT per year for SIPP||£50|
|Halifax||Cofunds Retail||2,000+ (Web page)||£12.5 per purchase or sale (£1.5 for monthly investments), additional £12.5 per year for ISA, additional £22.5-£45 per quarter for SIPP||£20|
|Fidelity FundsNetwork||Own||2,000+ (Web page)||0.35% per year up to £250,000, 0.20% £250,000-£1m, no charge above, with an annual minimum of £45||£50|
|Hargreaves Lansdown||Own||2,500+ (Web page)||0.45% per year up to £250,000, 0.25% £250,000-£1m, 0.10% £1m-£2m, no charge above||£25|
|iWeb||Cofunds Retail||2,000+ (Web page)||£200 one-off account opening fee, £5 per purchase or sale, additional £22.5-£45 per quarter for SIPP||n/a|
|Interactive Investor||Own (uses FNZ)||2,500+ (Web page)||£10 per purchase or sale (£1.5 for monthly investments), quarterly fee of £20 per client offset against trading fees, additional £80+VAT per year for SIPP||£20|
Notes on the UK fund supermarket comparison table
- Figures for the number of funds available may not be very reliable, because different providers count this in different ways: some appear to include multiple classes of the same fund, while others (more usefully) seem to count each fund only once.
- UK funds platforms are still adjusting to the impact of the FSA’s Retail Distribution Review, which banned platforms from receiving trail commission from fund managers on new investments with effect from April 2014. Brokers are experimenting with different fee structures, which is reflected in the wide range of charges seen in the table. It is likely that the next few years will see consolidation in the industry and there may be further changes to fees as unsuccessful models are abandoned. It’s impossible to take account of this in the table above, but it’s worth considering thinking about whether a provider’s fees are likely to be sustainable or whether they are likely to be too good to be true.
- There are other major platforms in the UK, some of which offer a wider range of funds (albeit usually at higher cost). These include Ascentric, Nucleus and Transact. However, individual investors can’t open accounts directly and there don’t appear to be any discount brokers offering any of them yet – to get access you need to go through an independent financial adviser.
Information in the UK fund supermarket comparison table comes from the brokers’ websites and brochures, conversations with broker staff and conversations with investors who use the services. While I try to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, I cannot guarantee that. You should always check current terms and conditions before opening an account. If you identify any errors or omissions, please email me using the contact form.