Broker profile


IG is one of the largest providers of leveraged trading services (such as spreadbetting and CFDs) globally. Its stockbroking services are more limited, covering the UK and a handful of other countries, although more markets are occasionally added.

The UK service is notable for offering execution via Direct Market Access (DMA) as well as the more common Retail Service Provider (RSP) model. DMA can be useful to more active traders and the firm is one of only four UK platforms to provide this for retail investors – the others are iDealing, Interactive Brokers, and Saxo Markets.

For international investors, perhaps the most significant aspect of the service is the low FX conversion charge of 0.5% – this compares very well with almost all rivals at present. The account fee is waived if you trade three times per quarter, making it potentially quite cost-effective for regular investors if it covers the markets you want.

Broker profile

Interactive Investor

Interactive Investor bought TD Direct Investing’s UK business in 2017, creating a service that combined TD’s international share dealing platform with II’s fund supermarket.

From an international investing perspective, the good points include decent coverage of North American, European and some Asian markets. The main downside is the commission on currency conversions of up to 1.5%, an often-overlooked charge that will eat into your returns if you trade frequently.

That said, unlike many UK stockbrokers, Interactive Investor offers multi-currency facilities, so clients should try to minimise the FX cost by making currency conversions as infrequently as possible. In addition, the firm will accept deposits in foreign currency, so you could consider using a low-cost foreign exchange transfer firm to pay in funds rather than exchanging currencies within the account.

AJ Bell Youinvest and Hargreaves Lansdown will probably be cheaper for long-term investors in shares, while Interactive Brokers or Saxo Markets offer better value for very active traders. However, Interactive Investor’s flat-fee structure makes it attractive for larger accounts that hold a mix of funds and shares

Broker profile

AJ Bell Youinvest

AJ Bell Youinvest was a pioneer in low-cost online SIPPs before expanding to offer regular trading accounts and ISAs. The firm offers an extensive range of funds and bonds in addition to UK and international shares.

The online international dealing service covers foreign stocks that can be held through CREST, the UK’s settlement system and securities depository, which essentially means major North American and European stocks. Some non-CREST markets are also available for telephone dealing, including some of the major Asian markets. There is a minimum trade size of £10,000 for Asian markets, but no minimum size for phone orders in other markets.

International trades are done through market makers rather than directly on the overseas exchange – the same method used by Hargreaves Lansdown, which is probably its closest direct peer.

Trading commissions are relatively low, but FX charges are up to 1%. This remains lower than some rivals, but investors who will be trading in and out of foreign-currency positions frequently may prefer brokers that offer the ability to hold foreign currency balances to minimise currency conversions. Like Hargreaves Lansdown, a Youinvest SIPP will automatically receive US dividends with zero withholding tax deducted and Canadian dividends at a reduced tax rate (not all discount brokers are set up to do this).

Overall, Youinvest is one of the better UK brokers for international dealing, especially for long-term investment in foreign shares within an ISA or a small SIPP (with larger SIPPs, it may be worth paying higher fees for a provider that lets you hold foreign currencies). Feedback on customer service is good.