Oct 022013

I’ve made a number of updates to the UK online stockbroker comparison table and individual entries for UK international stockbrokers in the directory to reflect fee and service changes over the past few months. Most of these are relatively trivial changes, but there have been a handful of more significant events.

  1. Charles Stanley has stopped offering personal CREST accounts through its online Charles Stanley Direct arm (the former Fastrade service) and has hugely increased the fees for the service through the Charles Stanley telephone broking service (effectively to £420 per year once all fees are taken into account). A number of the firm’s other charges and commissions have also increased recently, suggesting that the traditional brokerage business is now concentrating solely on fairly large clients and steering all smaller accounts to Charles Stanley Direct (which represents its attempt to take on the part of the market currently dominated by Hargreaves Lansdown). Investors looking for a more low-cost CREST sponsorship now seem to be limited to Redmayne Bentley or Stocktrade. The personal CREST account comparison table has been updated accordingly. UPDATE: The Fidelity Share Network service, which is based on Charles Stanley’s online platform, will apparently continue to offer CREST sponsorship on the same terms as before, even though Charles Stanley’s own-brand service won’t.
  2. Meanwhile, Stocktrade has made some fairly significant changes to its service. These include:
    • Many international markets are now available online. Previously overseas stocks could only be dealt by phone.
    • Online and phone dealing rates have been made the same
    • Investors can now hold foreign currency in their accounts, rather than settling only in GBP as before
    • FX conversion fees have been switched to a tiered basis. Under the old charges, Stocktrade followed a rather unusual approach of converting at market rates, but charging a fixed fee for doing so. The new system looks as if it should be more favourable to smaller accounts.
  3. Saxo Bank is introducing an inactivity charge for UK clients – £25/quarter, waived if you trade once in the quarter. The new fee applies to dealing accounts only, not to ISA and SIPP accounts (although these are already subject to annual administration fees). This is obviously a change for the worse for less frequent investors, but is not surprising – there is a clear trend towards charging more admin, inactivity and custody fees among brokers, reflecting the loss of revenue from lower levels of trading activity in recent years.
Apr 012013

There have been a number of changes to services offered by UK brokers over the last few weeks. I’m still in the process of updating all the pages to reflect these, but here’s a brief summary of the major ones:

  • Saxo Bank has closed its Modern Wealth Management service and is transferring existing clients to the Saxo Trader service. This seems to have positive and negative implications: The firm appears to be retreating from the UK fund supermarket business altogether, but is bringing an ISA wrapper to Saxo Trader, which may now be the most cheapest ISA for international markets where CREST settlement isn’t available.
  • Charles Stanley has closed its Fastrade service and relaunched it as Charles Stanley Direct. Changes are extensive – the key ones are that online trading fees have been reduced to £10 per trade, but there is now a custody fee of 0.25% per year (min £20, max £150) waived if you trade more than six times every six months. Given that one of the Fastrade service’s strongest selling points was that it offered at-cost personal CREST membership, the introduction of a custody fee will probably work out as a cost increase for less active traders using it for that purpose.
  • In addition, the number of brokers offering personal CREST membership shrunk further. NatWest Stockbrokers apparently no longer offers this to new clients, so has been removed from the personal CREST accounts comparison table. Fyshe Horton Finney – which offered a relatively expensive personal CREST option – went into administration and its clients were taken on by Redmayne Bentley.
  • iDealing now offers direct access to Euronext Amsterdam and Brussels.
Dec 122012

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: Continue reading »

What is a CREST Depository Interest (CDI)?


A CREST Depository Interest (CDI) is a UK security that represents a stock traded on an exchange outside the UK. They offer a straightforward, cost-effective way to trade in a number of overseas stocks and are the main means of foreign dealing provided by a number of UK international stock brokers.

In many ways, CDIs resemble American depository receipts (ADRs) and global depository receipts (GDRs). The underlying legal structure and process is very different, but little of this will directly affect the investor.

To understand CDIs, you first need to know a little about CREST, the UK and Ireland central securities depository (CSD) and settlement system. Briefly, CREST is responsible for recording the ownership of dematerialised securities – those that do not have paper certificates – and transferring title between the buyer and seller when stocks are traded.

CREST also distributes dividends, implements corporate actions such as rights issues and carries out many other important function. In short, it’s the centre of the paperless trade processing system that has replaced certificates. Continue reading »

What is a CREST personal account?


CREST is the central securities depository and settlement system for the UK and Ireland. It is responsible for recording the existence of demateralised shares (ie those that are recorded solely in electronic form – as most are these days – and do not have paper certificates) and transferring ownership between buyers and sellers when stocks are traded though a stock broker.

Most UK shareholders have their stocks held ‘in nominee’, which means that their holdings are pooled together with holdings from other clients of their stock broker. The legal owner of these shares is recorded through CREST as being their stock broker’s nominee company (which is a non-trading entity set up to hold client assets). The shareholder is the beneficial owner – meaning that they have rights over the shares – but they do not appear on the shareholders register.

However, it is possible for individuals to have their own CREST personal member account and have shares recorded in their name on the register. For this to happen, they need to be sponsored for CREST membership by a stock broker.

Individual CREST membership is not a particularly complex or costly process, but for maximum efficiency most stock brokers prefer to have all their clients hold shares in nominee, so relatively few firms offer CREST sponsorship and even fewer actively promote it. For a list of brokers that do, see the CREST personal account comparison table. Continue reading »

UK CREST Personal Member Account comparison table

Last UpdatedDec 292015

The table below compares accounts from the limited number of UK stockbrokers who offer sponsored CREST accounts for individual investors.

It is not a full comparison table of UK stockbrokers – see the UK discount stockbrokers comparison table for many more possibilities if you don’t need a personal CREST account.

For more details on what individual CREST membership is and why you might or might not want it, see the CREST personal account FAQ.

All firms in the table are regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Continue reading »