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Diary of a dumb investor: picking a platform

I’ve just been given £10,000 to invest, and it’s burning a hole in my bank account as I hesitate over hurdle number one - which online platform to use.

Diary of a dumb investor: picking a platform

OK, so I’ve just been given a load of cash to invest – if you didn’t read my first diary entry last week: a sweet £10,000 – and it’s burning a hole in my bank account as I hesitate over where, and how, to do so.

To start off, I want to thank everyone who made suggestions in responses to my first article. I learnt a lot, especially about the importance of doing due diligence ahead of picking an online trading platform.

Some of the advice was less useful, although pretty funny: ‘put it all on red!’ was one such nugget.

But also I noticed there was speculation as to whether I – and the cash – actually exist. Let me dispel those doubts once and for all: I am truly a dumb investor, and the money is really there.

I’ll prove this by going into the minute details of the profits and losses made, and charges incurred, as I make trades; and if this isn’t enough – I’ll also attach copies of statements on my portfolio (with my personal details blurred out, of course, to avoid a potential mugging by any criminally-inclined Citywire readers).

So, let’s get down to business. I went to, a price comparison website, to find the cheapest trading platform on offer. I typed in that I wanted to compare charges over the course of a year, with an average of three trades per month, each with an average value of £500.

It came up a list of ten platforms. The cheapest, offered by SVS securities, charges £5.75 per trade with a total cost of £207, according to my specifications; the most expensive, offered by Hargreaves Lansdown, charges £14.95 per trade and with a total cost of £538.

My choice would appear pretty obvious. Yet on closer examination, I saw that not all of the platforms offered the same things. With SVS, I could only trade UK stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs) and exchange traded commodities.

So I wouldn’t be able to buy shares in Facebook when it goes public. Or, for that matter, put my money in other funds, corporate bonds and investment trusts.

Moving down the list, I saw that Halifax, at No. 6 for value, offered a broad range of investment options, including: UK shares, unit trusts, gilts, corporate bonds, funds, investment trusts, ETFs and global markets. All at a cost of £11.95 per trade, coming to an annual total of £430.

That’s actually pretty disheartening, since it works out as 4.3% of my £10,000 (and not including 0.5% stamp duty) – which I would basically need to double to make the whole thing more worthwhile than sticking the money in a savings account.

But I’ve made up my mind: Halifax it is. I’m just going to try not to think about the charges too much. In fact, I’ll probably be too busy deciding what sort of assets I want to buy, which I’ll let you know in my update next week.

I’ll finish this week’s diary with lesson learnt number 2: investing is expensive and it’s difficult to get started. No wonder people are scared off.

72 comments so far. Why not have your say?


Jan 24, 2011 at 12:14

Dumb Investor - It's a myth that it's difficult to get started, but any online broker will have to do the usual money-laundering checks.

The cost of trades is one thing, but the ease of use of the online site and what it offers are important considerations. All I can say is that I've used TD Waterhouse for the last 4 years with no significant problems, and the amount of online information available (e.g. quarterly statements, notifications of bonus issues, company data etc.) is excellent. They will allow you to invest in anything that Halifax allows. I have no connection with TD Waterhouse, by the way, but I do have an online bank account with Halifax, and they completely lost (i.e. misdirected) a big payment-in, resulting in overdraft charges and a lot of time spent on the phone . . . . . .

I would strongly recommend trading only in portions of £1,000 or more, to reduce trading charges to the minimum. My annual trading cost is nowhere near 4.3%.

Your first step has to be setting up a dummy portfolio on and start playing without actually risking your money!

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Jan 24, 2011 at 12:14

The clear lesson here is to trade as little as possible. 10 positions of £1,000 each would work well. If you do decide to buy some stocks (i wouldn't) make damn sure you do you research. Good luck!

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busy bee

Jan 24, 2011 at 12:43

I do not work for Hargreaves Lansdown, and don't have an account with them but I have to deal with them on behalf of others and they are superb, with the mosthelpful staff you can have. And another thing is that their site is very easy to follow. On that score avoid like the plague HSBC and Internaxx - both have horrible dealing screens where its easy to make a mistake.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 12:50

Halifax do offer regular dealing at £1.50 per trade, you can book a trade via this method to cut your dealing fee, but you will not know the exact price you will pay until the trade is done. There is no min tie in or anything like that, so you could start a regular dealing trade, do one trade, then pause it till your ready for another trade.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 13:09

A couple of things. Firstly, to ignore dealing fees is ludricious. You are immediately deviating from a sensible or realistic investment strategy. Even at segments of £1000 - fees and stamp duty will amount to 1-2% of the sum invested. Instead I would recommend picking 5 stocks of £2000 in 5 sectors such as pharaceuticals, financial, retail, telecoms and utilities. This is dull(I know) but it will provide the likely best average return in the long run, while limiting your risk to some extent. However, it won't make for a good story. So perhaps one may conclude that sensible investment advice is not very compatible with modern day journalism. And if we believe this to be the case it might help explain the media's role in talking up house prices during the boom years.

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Patrick Moore

Jan 24, 2011 at 13:15

Investing should not be easy and new investors need to be scared. It should encourage them to do their homework and understand the market and the consequences of investing. The caveats on the risks of investing are everywhere and are not to be ignored lightly.

Trading cost is a set up cost and unless you are up for daytrading the cash flow out is limited.Are you planning to ISA this investment, have you factored in the ongoing annual costs for that?

I agree with Busy Bee HL have been OK for me for 10 years and I am happy to pay the management fee. the website is very informative and trading is easy.

[Not an mployee or a shareholder!]

Agree £500 is too low to be cost effective and, in any case, 20 stocks is too many to manage let alone research. Running a dummy portfolio is a good idea.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 13:31

Regarding the trading platforms, did you have a chance to preview the software.

One bank stockbroker seems to offer quite a number of features in the software such as limit buy, stop-loss and one-month trailing while the one I am using gives me 14 minutes to make a deision, though quietly I sometimes do enjoy buying shares similar to that of placing bets.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 14:24

Not sure why you can't trade investment trusts via SVS as shares in investment trusts are traded on the Stock Exchange like any other share - suggest you familiarise yourself with investment trusts before investing.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 14:31

correction -

no '14 minutes' - should read 'count from 14 to 0'

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associated abilities

Jan 24, 2011 at 14:36

jpjshare do trades from £4.75 online :)

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Adam Worgan

Jan 24, 2011 at 14:40

Looking at the article and the responses I would assume that this money is invested for fun and for no real outlook or needed return. I would therefore move to direct share dealing and avoid the supermarket setups and running. I would also suggest joining a share or investment club which gives you a bigger pool of research and also gives you a bigger pool of money to reduce costs. Your current advice and strategy will only make you poor.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 14:42

Cheap doesn't always mean good. Would you set out to buy a car and just buy the cheapest one from Shady Joe's Motors? I use Stoctrade because I can have my shares in CREST, and can deal on the 'phone in small caps when I can't deal online. It isn't the cheapest but is good value for money.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 14:48

Er - sorry to be a party-pooper but you may have missed something beneficial that can negate dealing costs for shares bought on a UK stock exchange. Some sites (I know for a fact Barclays and Selftrade, I am a client of both) automatically scan for advantageous pricing ("pricing within the yellow strip" seems to be the buzz-phrase).

I have checked such prices in real time and they really do beat certain other sites that I won't mention (have also been or considered being a client). Sometimes the price is just a few £'s better than the yellow strip, but frequently it exceeds dealing charges even for £1000-2000 trades.

I don't know if Halifax offer this facility, but it would be worthwhile checking.

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Lyndy H

Jan 24, 2011 at 15:37

Remember - you only get what you pay for. Go for good quality like 'Hargreaves Lansdown' who offer a professional and superb service and site is incredibly easy to use. When you make a trade you will know exactly how much it has cost! From experience, when you start trading, spread the risk amongst several companies from the main market, although there is the AIM, but not until you have several years experience! This market can be risky and is for serious investors.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 15:39

The fewer trades, the better on saving fees.

I do not deal online as I buy for investment, ie long term, and not to 'trade'. However, is it not the case that these investments will be held in CREST (no paper) and are there not at least semi annual charges for each investment held? How much are they? If £5 per investment then that is £10 per annum per investment, and for 10 that will be £100 per annaum. If I had Crest, that would be about £500 pa charge.

Personally I request a certificate, which attracts not charges. The downside is if you ask for a certificate, ie no CREST, I believe, there is an extra charge, about £15. You also have to sign a transfer form and send it on on a sale.

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Will Ton

Jan 24, 2011 at 15:52

Contrary to the poster above I have had no end of trouble with TDW. The site is often down or very slow and you are unable to make a transaction. This seems to be due to their dreadful infrastructure, which has been showing the same problems since 1999. TDW also treats its customers with absolute contempt, and will fob you off for months before acting on any complaint or failure on their part. I am currently taking them to the financial ombudsman.

Be aware of JPJ - they are Isle of Man based and not covered by UK law.

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Michael Mullan

Jan 24, 2011 at 16:08

I use Fidelity who chage £9 per trade and £5 per month to run the account. I like the way it gives a profit and loss colum and an overall fund growth or loss percentage.

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John Warren

Jan 24, 2011 at 16:40

Your dealing platform cost comparison from Money Supermarket might be misleading depending on what you actually trade the most. For example I only invest via Funds (OEIC/Unit Trusts) and with Hargreaves Lansdown ALL fund dealing is completely FREE, so my dealing costs within my SIPP,ISA and Fund/Share dealing account are ZERO !

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Graham Barney

Jan 24, 2011 at 17:17

TD Waterhouse Trading Isa Account £12.50 for trading with less than 15 transaction a quarter and below £9 if more.. Offers international markets including Hong Kong Singapore Canada Australia as well as Europe and the States also CFD's, forex, ETF's and insurance company funds at a huge discount and a few others. I find the platform easy to use BUT i find their market research facility a pain as international "tickers" sometimes dont register.

You have the full range of Plays available ie Limit, stop loss etc but remember you cannot use a stop loss for Australian or Singapore markets

Money week have the difinitive platform comparison information as well as a good read, stuff you may find useful in the "plays" you select. I arrived at my decison to use TD through Money Weeks reviews

After saying all this though as an IFA I would ask you have you explored your attitude to Risk?? if not I think this is where you should be starting!!

Good Hunting

PS no i dont work for TD Waterhouse.

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colin wilson

Jan 24, 2011 at 17:33

I have used Interactive Investor for the last eight years without any problems, at £10 a trade and no account charges it suits me just fine. My shares ISA

is also held with them without any charges ,unlike HL who do charge.

With £10,000 to invest you certainly won't set the world on fire and for me it would amount to three single company buys - maximum, but preferably two. Spread too thinly your losers soon cancel out any of your profitable gains. Also i personally don't try to spread the risk over several sectors as in the current climate you would be hard pushed to make anything worthwhile ie builders - banks - pharmaceuticals.

This game can be very profitable with care and plenty of reading.

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Roy C

Jan 24, 2011 at 17:59

The cheapest is Jarvis x-o, £5.95/trade, and ISA platform, no thrills Look at the site, just key in Jarvis x-o. Yes Hargreaves good site but dearer

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gggggg hjhjkl;'

Jan 24, 2011 at 18:31

Be carefull of the advice on this site!!

Some is ignorant and some is downright misleading!!

I offer none and would suggest you do your own thing, as they say "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and from what I read above this is certainly true.

Good luck with your investments and from my experience "keep your costs to a minimum".

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Jan 24, 2011 at 18:53

"So I wouldn’t be able to buy shares in Facebook when it goes public."

You say this £10k is for 'investing' and then say something like that?

You'd better learn fast or that £10k isn't going to last long.

We are in a clear distribution top and the easy money has been made, so tread very very carefully.

Not wishing to discourage you of course. The more amateurs who play in this rigged casino the more money I make ;o)

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jeb fries

Jan 24, 2011 at 19:15

The fees in the UK amaze me In the US you can get a full service broker with funds, stocks and bonds for less than $12 a trade. If you go for Vanguard Mutual Funds, most are mutuals for less than 1-2% mgt fees. I like Zion's Direct, as I am a bond man, and I can buy any amount of bonds for $10.95. Fidelity in the US is another full service I have had for 20 yrs., but their index fund of the S&P 500 is only now showing a profit from a position I bought in 2000. I trade more bonds, municipal and corporate, so I love Zion's.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 19:29

There is massively higher retail trading volume in the US and more providers so they can and do charge significantly less. No stamp duty either.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 19:35

Have a look at Investment Trusts - they spread the risk for you and you don't have to be monitoring them all the time. If you look at their websites you can see the shares they are invested in and choose a spread of areas - I don't like tobacco shares but if you don't mind there are some reliable high yielders that have BAT or whatever in them. I try to buy IT's with good shares that are at a discount to NAV (though obviously if the market falls the NAV falls too and the discount disappears). RIT Capital Partners is a good doer if you are looking for long term investment, though there isn't much discount at the moment. If you are happy to sign up for regular investment with an IT you can do it for free or very cheaply directly with them.

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Euan Spink

Jan 24, 2011 at 19:53

Having been trading for well over 50 years, I have 'used' many brokers. For the past several years I have found H-L to be excellent for fund investment, but pricey for equities.

Interactive Investor - III - is absolutley first class for equities and ITs. The site is clear and informative and telephone help is cherfully and efficiently available if required.

Charges are £10 per trade, with no account fees, and the price obtained is usually better than quoted on a live feed site - I use money AM.

I'd recommend signing up with them

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Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Jan 24, 2011 at 20:10

i use interactive investor and usually use the £1.50 a buy but you have to book the day before, i find it perfect for invesment trusts that i add to at £250 min a time and usually the price doesnt change too much from the day before . I have been investing for two years and have a widespead porfollio that im aiming to keep for long term and aiming for £3k per investment by the end of the year

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Jan 24, 2011 at 21:01

Interactive Investor use the Halifax platform but have no admin fees. I find their service very good. I agree with PhilB, you may save on dealing costs, but find you pay more because another broker gets you a better price. I've not investigated it, but it's something to think about.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 21:13

I use SAGA share direct, £11.50 per trade or £9.50 if you deal more than 10 times per quarter. Very easy site to use, good research facilities, account and trade histories, instant trading, very helpful telephone Staff. Combine that with ADVFN and you are all set.

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Jan 24, 2011 at 23:28

For shares - I used - 1%/£7.50 min so cost effectiveness will depend on size of deals you intend to do. As an alternative I also use at £5.95 flat rate its the cheapest I've found - however be warned the HCI (or GUI if you prefer) is very very basic, in fact it has nothing unnecessary on it - no adverts, no colour, just text and limited research - but for £5.95 given you can get access to plenty of sites that provide all the data you need I'm not complaining.

If you 're dealing in funds - use a supermarket CoFunds/Fundsnetwork,Hargreaves and for the first two always go through a discount broker (ie Commshare/BestInvest) - the aim is to pay no upfront commission and get a proportion of the AMC rebated. For least hassle Hargreaves is probably the top pick, however they can be quite sales focus as you can easily tell by reading any of their articles. It will be intereting come RDR in 2013 to see whether or not active funds are quite so popular as they are currently

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Chris Marsden

Jan 24, 2011 at 23:48

Dumb I, am not sure you are comparing HL prices correctly as with that number of trades you should be on the £9-95 flat rate +£12-50 qtr, the cost would then be £408 not £538, but yes still more expensive. I am pleased to see so many other recommend HL, I certainly do.

I think you would be far better off with Funds at the £10k level, but if you want the gamble. Just that you may be setting a poor example for Joe Average.

Shall we measure your success against the Naked Trader? Yes lets!

I would certainly warn you or anyone off TD Waterhouse, the worst financial company I have ever dealt with by far.


I am also submitting a COMPLAINT to the FOS about many matters.

Don't forget they also have a £60 exit fee if held in an ISA. But they don't mention that in the account opening patter.


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Chris Marsden

Jan 25, 2011 at 00:55

I suggested Funds might be better. Here are a dozen I bought last month (along with some golden turkeys), all up 3.5% or more after any charges, spreads etc. most have gone up 30% or more in last 12m, I expect to hold all these for a year, so lets compare notes next year!

I'm swapping some F/S China, and India, for these as well.

Investec UK Smaller Companies

Marlborough UK Micro Cap Growth

CF Amati UK Smaller Companies

SVM UK Opportunities

Standard Life UK Equity Unconstrained

Unicorn UK Small Cos Inc A Shares

Junior Oils Trust

MFM Slater Growth

Australian Natural Resources

Neptune Russia & Greater Russia

GLG Technology Equity Fund

Liontrust Special Situations

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Going loco

Jan 25, 2011 at 01:23

My compliments to Citywire for running this column. The nuts and bolts of investing are every bit as important as the high falutin' theoretical stuff.

The most important advice in the preceding comments is not to trade too often. As Warren Buffet has often pointed out even at today's (relatively) low costs the charges can wipe you out eventually, they really can. Also, you don't know enough to trade frequently. If you try to trade too often you will find that at least 6 times out of 10 the price will go down after you have bought and you will get frightened and sell at a loss - this and the dealing charges will inexorably wipe you out. You need to find a very few investments, perhaps 2 or 3 with your budget, then buy them with a generous stop-loss, perhaps 20%, and after buying them you need to wait a while before doing anything. You will learn more by following closely a few actual investments and plotting their progress on a chart than you will ever learn from reading books.

If you decide not too trade too often you will be more likely to choose a platform that gives you the best price when you do deal, the best information, and the best automation (eg: stop loss) rather than the one with the cheapest cost per trade.

BTW if you make a success of this you absolutely MUST choose a platform that lets you have your investments wrapped in a self-select shares ISA otherwise you will pay totally unnecessary tax on any profits you do make above the CGT allowance. If you are clever enough and lucky enough to get an average 7% growth p.a. with dividends reinvested your £10k will become £38,697 after 20 years and and £149,744 after 40 years. Why pay tax on this gain?

(BTW the sad news is that 7% p.a. might just possibly keep pace with the destruction of our currency so that after 40 years your £149,744 might just possibly buy you the same stuff as £10,000 does now).

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la mamma

Jan 25, 2011 at 01:59

Didn't your generous uncle say that if you managed this money well - he would give you more next year?

If you want the follow up cash, I agree 20 x 500 trades on shares is not managing it well, particularly as a total novice to the market.

Why so hung up on individual shares?

Chosen well, investment trusts, ETFs, unit trusts and OEICs would give you better diversity and certainly with the latter two at least, harness the knowledge and skills of the managers.

Choose, buy for the long term, sit back and give them time to grow. Spend the rest of the year reading about investing, and/or run a fantasy portfolio for the experience.

Taking advantage of the ISA tax shelter is good sense, too.

I would also highly recommend Hargreaves Lansdown - for a STOCKS ISA, ie for unit trusts and OEICs, under their Vantage umbrella.

They make no charges for holding/managing it - and if you choose the right funds, not only is there no charge for purchase, but they offer a discount on the manager's initial fee, often the total fee, AND pay you a % of the fund value as a loyalty bonus (out of their annual trail commission) each year (modest amounts but I've earned over £1000 this way over the years)

Their 'Wealth 150' list of funds is a good starting point for finding the better performing funds to choose from.

Their website is easy to navigate and packed full of information.

Talk to them on the phone and you will always get someone who knows what they are talking about.

If you really want to go for a SHARES ISA, try somewhere like Selftrade - again with a useful, informative site and easy to manage online account. £12.50 a trade + stamp duty BUT if you invest £7000 in an ISA they give you 10 free trades (fewer for a smaller investment, cant remember exact details) which should be more than enough for an novice investor (as opposed to a trader).

Their annual fee is a flat £40-42pa incl VAT no matter how valuable your account (many places charge more as the value increases) - and if you were to hold a dealing account with Selftrade as well as an ISA, both accounts are included in the same fee.

Just be aware that not all shares are eligible for a Shares ISA - but you can use a dealing account as well for a punt or two for fun (and use your CGT allowance against any huge gains!)

In comparison, if you were to buy shares in the HL ISA, they charge 0.5% of total value of the shares held (max £200+VAT) - but don't charge anything for shares held in the Vantage Stocks&Shares account (dealing account) though their purchasing commission rates are on a rapidly rising scale, which is why I suggest the separation.

You could of course take advantage of the new tax year coming up in a couple of months time - splitting your 10k between, say, a Stocks ISA in HL to take advantage of their free trading of funds/discounts/loyalty payments before the end of March and a Shares ISA at, say, Selftrade (for their free trades and low annual charge) after 6 April (or vice versa of course), getting the best of both worlds. (You can't hold open more than one Stocks ISA in any one tax year)

While you could perhaps allow yourself a punt of say £500 on an adventurous share in a dealing account, £1000 on a decent dividend paying share (dividends to be accumulated and reinvested!) or growing EFT, and £1500-2000 for a unit trust/OEIC would be reasonable for a novice investor. Remember you are on a mission to manage the money well.

Choose well so you can demonstrate you have increased your worth and you could strike lucky with the next £10k - some of which at least you could use to start a SIPP - for which HL come up trumps on no fees and usual fund discounts (but sadly no loyalty bonuses) - but that's another story.

Sorry this has turned out so long, but hope it helps.

Good luck. Dont try running before you can walk. It's a bit scary at first but put your mind to it and it becomes very satisfying watching the investments grow!

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la mamma

Jan 25, 2011 at 02:12

oops, para 17, last sentence, delete 'hold', ie "you cant open more than one Stocks ISA in any one year".

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Jan 25, 2011 at 06:50

Stocktrade are the most reliable!

Certain trades cannot be done over the web.

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glenda cymbalist

Jan 25, 2011 at 08:37

I think that apart from the costs of dealing it is important to see how your portfolio contents are displayed. It is so important to see move on the day, so alarm bells can be rung, and so far I haven't found any such site. To this end I use Moneyextra to keep a dummy portfolio where it also povides the facility for note keeping.


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Chris Marsden

Jan 25, 2011 at 10:16

GLENDA How do you mean "It is so important to see move on the day, so alarm bells can be rung, and so far I haven't found any such site"

If you are investing rather than trading, it should not really matter, but IG Index have alerts that come up on screen or email you for all sorts of alarms, and excellent charting tools. But trading there is exceedingly risky.

Also, please do consider whoever has to manage your estate keep it simple, use one platform, keep all your accounts together as far as possible.

With oeics & Funds you have the FSA protection from all of the managers in one place. This is another advantage in HL for me.

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Jan 25, 2011 at 11:55

Dumb or (not so dumb) investor. It seems you have inherited a family of "Dutch" uncles on this site. Typical, given the subject under discussion.

What can I add to the debate without sounding self-righteous.

Well I can quote Warren Buffett. "I would rather be vaguely right than completely wrong" What this means (to me) is: Do not be over confident in your decisions.

If it was my money I should invest in the following way.

£5000 in a high interest instant access account.

£1000 in premium bonds.

£1000 in a Gold, Silver, or Precious Metal Mining company.

£1000 in an Oil Exploration and Production Company.

£2000 in a blue chip high dividend payer.

Constantly monitor performance and make a strategic review every three months. If market sentiment is generally bullish, and your selections are proving profitable you can always increase them by drawing from your deposit account.

I wouldn't bother with an ISA in the first year, considering what it would cost in management fees and bearing in mind that there is a capital allowance against CGT of more than £9000 in any one year.

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Jan 25, 2011 at 12:16

QUALITY NOT PRICE REQUIRED: I mainly trade equities on-line but find that the range of markets covered can be very limited and as a result I now use a few providers to cover the tips I receive from various research sources.

As I normally place trades around £5k, I am more concerned with quality, ease of use and the range of markets, rather than the individual trading cost.

One thing I have not yet managed to source is a site where I can hold various virtual portfolios (to help evaluate different advice sources).

Ideally the site would cover a raft of international markets as well as the UK and, importantly, allow note-taking against each entry. Another useful tool would be the ability to manually add an entry (and manually keep it up to date) where the share cannot be found on the site.

Any suggestions?

John Reid

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Jan 25, 2011 at 12:29

This money is for investment - one presumes you already have cash on deposit for immediate problems and I don't think Premium Bonds offer good chances of winning anything. Loads of helpful suggestions here but they do make it sound like hard work and a lot of maths - which is fine if you enjoy that sort of thing but isn't actually necessary provided you just concentrate on investing in sound companies with good businesses. Dividends are great, but so are profitable trades. I started with the intention of investing in IT's but once you start reading and watching you begin to get a bit more confidence and do a bit of trading. I have found that smaller companies are actually easier to understand than big ones and there are plenty around which pay dividends and their share prices go up! Personally I can't understand what goes on in Japan and don't invest there but it seems to have been tipped as the next winner for years.

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Jan 25, 2011 at 13:07

To John Reid.

For an experienced investor you may find that NatWest Stockbrokers would be suitable for you. They share the same facilities and building as TD Waterhouse in Leeds. However I have found their site is easier to navigate. They charge £15 per trade and offer free research tools such as access to Morning Star/Hemscott. You can run virtual portfolios (I think the number is ten.) You can in theory trade on numerous exhanges and in a variety of currencies.

As regards making manual entries, or keeping a record of your share transactions, completely separate from the internet; I would recommend using a dedicated programme called Stockmarket Investor 3 available from Meridian Software. This is a complex and sophisticated piece of kit, which takes time to understand all it's foibles, but once you grasp the logic it's so easy to monitor, update, and keep detailed accounts. The main advantage is that you can subscribe to a datastream which updates about 3000 entries on a master list.

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Jan 25, 2011 at 13:41

To Ines:

Sure, point taken, but you have to set up some sort of account in which to hold cash. I find it's best to keep investment moneys completely separate from other personal finances. You can then use your dedicated account as a transfer station, without any worry that your drawings and other sources of income will become mixed. This is important should you invest in a company which is subsequently bought by another company for cash. If you leave this money with your broker he is unlikely to pay you much interest.

The reason I came to my investment choice was because of the preconditions set by the investors benefactor. Namely he wants to see results in twelve months time.

If the trustee was to invest the whole of the £10,000 upon receipt he would immediately become vulnerable to a market downturn. If a widespread correction occurs there would, be insufficient time to recoup these losses. Therefore my plan would be to progressively build upon success, but at the same time limit the risk of failure.

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Dave Hill

Jan 25, 2011 at 13:50

I invest and like you don't know where to invest, so I go into citywire and look for the top performing unit trusts in the areas that I think will grow in the next year or two. So I've been investing in commodities, eastern europe, asia and South America. I use a fund supermarket like Fidelity, so I get a discount on the units I buy. As the UK recovers, at a minimal cost, I can change to UK funds. I can invest in different providers so using the ones that are strong in the areas I want to invest in. Using this method, I have had some very impressive returns.

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Jan 25, 2011 at 14:18

To Hotrod,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my message re trading and virtual platforms. I will check them out.

Regards, John Reid

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Jan 25, 2011 at 16:35

Hopefully your fund will increase each year for many years. Therefore I believe you should choose a platform which doesn't levy ongoing annual fees. If you're likely to buy shares or Investment trusts then I would exclude H-L on the basis of their 0.5% annual charge (liimited to £200pa ). Over a twenty year period that could total £4000 in fees unnecessarily paid and irrespective of whether you are trading each year. Having eliminated fees the choice of provider then becomes a personal preference. I have two ISA providers First Direct Bank and Alliance Trust both offering good platforms, lower dealing costs as well as saving £200 every year compared to. H-L.

An advantage of First Direct is that my Share account links directly to my bank Saving account so dividends are paid straight through. An advantage of Alliance trust is that dealing fees are reduced 50% by holding 10k shares in Alliance Trust's own IT. So my tendency is to do the higher value but less frequent trades with FD and the lower value more frequent trades with AT. Every little helps.

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Jan 25, 2011 at 18:05

John Reid - allows you to set up dummy portfolios and to add notes. Whether it allows this for international markets too I don't know. I've only been investing seriously for 4 years, so I'm not brave enough yet to try.

Dumb Investor - Hotrod's suggestions above put 60% of your money in "investments" which will not beat inflation!!!! I doubt whether great-uncle's next £10,000 would be forthcoming if you did that. Between 5 and 10 well-chosen investment trusts should do you fine. All the other faffing about is completely unnecessary, and you probably find it highly confusing.

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Chris Marsden

Jan 25, 2011 at 18:53

John we both have ISAs with HL and do not pay the 0.5%, that is ONLY on a few (very low performance cash/bond) funds that DO NOT pay trail commission. 2,300 funds there is no charge for holding, In fact HL pay YOU a 'loyalty' bonus of up to 0.375%, I have just transferred £260 from that.

I think that 0.5% charge does apply for shares in an ISA with HL, but mine is full of funds anyway.

I don't want anyone put off - do your own research and call them on 0117 900 9000 and get the facts direct.

Just to make sure, I have called them.

ISA & SIPP 0.5% on Shares & ETFs capped at £200, on EACH account (ie up to £400)

However in the Fund Account NO management fee.

Dealing £9-95 + £12-50qtr, can be switched on or off at will.

All costs are clear and up front with HL, unlike TD Waterhouse - who again I have spoken with today, and we agreed on only one thing - we will not reach a conclusion, they claimed HL had received the ISA, I rang HL, and of course they STILL have not, nearly 3 months now, and then I rang the Financial Ombudsman who are very very helpful, and are now investigating, as I have had TDWs 'final' response. Grrrrrrrr!

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Jan 25, 2011 at 20:37

Thanks Chris for confirming my earlier comments i.e. SHARES and INVESTMENT TRUSTS (as well as ETFs) are subject to fees with H_L. In my case these type of investments make up more 95% of my total and the implied £400 PER YEAR annual fee for Sipp and ISA is better off in my pocket than with H_L.

I agree If you are investing in funds (UNIT TRUSTS or OEICS ) these fees do not apply as H_L get a trailing commission from the fund.

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Paul N

Jan 26, 2011 at 09:31

There is another option,

Based in (and fully regulated by) the Isle of Man offering trades a from £4.25 (for subscripers), a standard rate of £5.75 and a frequent trader rate (for over 15 trades a month) of £4.75 (all the above are for online trades, telephone trades start at £7.50)

No ongoing charges and no hidden fees and also a built-in price minimizer mechanism so trades often within the spread

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Jan 26, 2011 at 10:40

Have you considered First Direct? [via HSBC]

Portfolio service is superb - as are all their services.

Their market data provided by Digital Look.

Trades cost £11 or £9 for frequent use. [no other charges]

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Chris Marsden

Jan 26, 2011 at 12:34

The looks very good. Except they don't do ISA. Yet. they hope to about April.

So as with HL, where there is no annual maintenance charge in their Fund account, (only the ISA/SIPP). Do I want a different platform for shares to save £10 for a in & out trade? Perhaps.

The T1ps is £73 pa he says, has anyone found they or any other research company worthwhile.?

I have been using Fatprohets, and at about 50% success rate - if you get in on time, a sharp pin is as much use, and far cheaper. Galvan Research are far worse. fwiw.

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Jan 26, 2011 at 19:22

I'm not sure if one is allowed to mention 'tipsters' but again, fwiw, I have found Dr Mike Tubbs advice very effective!

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Weegie wean

Jan 27, 2011 at 15:41

Fascinating stuff!

I've been let down a couple of times by selftrade (used them for over ten years).

As these comments show, getting out of the frying pan and avoiding the fire is far from easy. After much deliberation, I moved to Interactive Investor.

Two brokers not mentioned:

RBS Direct Trader...includes Canada and Australia out for their £1 a dividend charge

My Greatgrandmother used to say "There's aye a soming" True as ever!

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Going loco

Jan 27, 2011 at 17:15

Nobody has mentioned Interactive Brokers. Very good platform, widely used by the new breed of discretionary traders in the USA (eg: Bill Cara). Useful for international stocks.

However, quite expensive for buying large numbers of low-priced shares (eg: junior miners).

Also this: "IB is required to withhold taxes on U.S. source income. An example of U.S. source income is dividends paid by a U.S. domiciled company. The withholding occurs at the default of 30% or treaty rate. U.S. and the U.K. treaty rate can be found on U.S. Internal Revenue Service Publication 901 ( You may also wish to consult IRS Publication 519 "Guide for Aliens." Lastly, I recommend that you contact a qualified tax advisor on you you should treat withholding and how that is treated by your local taxing authority."

Anybody here used IB from the UK and willing to share their experience of the tax treatment?

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John Osborne

Jan 31, 2011 at 16:41

There seems to be some confusion over H-L charges.

I do not think they give a loyalty bonus (rebate on annual trail commission) on OEICs held in their ISA. This can amount to quite a lot per annum for larger portfolios, especially if shares or ITs are held in the ISA, which also attract the 0.5% capped at £200 charge.

Is there a provider that gives any rebate on annual trail commission for OEICs when held in an ISA ?

I think also there are IFA brokers that rebate more of the 0.5% trail commission back to their clients than H-L. H-Ls rebate (loyalty bonus) is better than nothing but not that generous.

Excellent service from H-L, but it comes at a price over the years.

If you save £100 per annum and invest it in a modest IT saving scheme, it could be worth a lot more than the £1000 after 10 years.

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Euan Spink

Jan 31, 2011 at 17:21

In response to John16, above.

Evidently there is, in fact confusion over H-L Loyalty Bonuses.

They certainly are given on OEICs within an ISA - and, for those who might wonder, they are considered non-taxable.

I have received approx £1800 to date.

H-L charges are excellent with regard to Funds, the vast majority being discounted to zero commision on purchase, or sale.

The web-site is informative and dealing is efficient, and also pleasant if a phone call is involved.

I cannot speak more highly.

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Chris Marsden

Jan 31, 2011 at 17:25

Yes there is confusion. The rebate of charges is on the FUNDS and the ISA, it is only the SIPP that does not have the trail commission rebated at all.

Therefore I select, generally, that the funds that I want that don't have any rebate are in the SIPP.

MOST Funds do not attract the '0.5% capped at £200' in the ISA

Please call them 0117 900 9000 to get the facts straight, I have just had a few hundred reimbursed, and am happy with their service, unlike TD Waterhouse and Santander!

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Chris Marsden

Jan 31, 2011 at 17:27

Sorry to duplicate what Euan said, I had not seen it when I started to reply!

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Jan 31, 2011 at 18:32

I agree that h-l are very good, but you may also want to have a look at alliance trust savings, especially if you are not intending to switch funds often, as they refund their entire part of the fund's annual fee. They don't offer advice or as many funds as h-l. You could use both, choosing the most suitable for each investment type.

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Alan Green

Apr 05, 2012 at 22:31

It does seem that posters in this forum while searching have missed the Traders Own offer of £6 per trade flat fee. There are no inactivity fees, no management fees plus you can trade via an iphone app. Uniquely, every member earns an equity unit with every trade. These convert into shares in our holding company Traders Own Plc, so all our members actually own a little stake in the business. I am connected to the business, but if you'd like to know more, our London offices are at 49 Whitehall, and our Brighton offices are at Sussex Innovation Centre on the Sussex Uni campus.

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Cape Town

Sep 14, 2012 at 13:16


What s the cost of the software you mention?

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Sep 14, 2012 at 15:16

The software I use varies in price from £60 + VAT to £130 + VAT and comes on a CD.

You will also need to subscribe to a datastream. I use their in-house version which costs £40 + VAT annually, enabling me to update my master list, company files, and portfolio files on a daily, weekly, or three weekly basis.

But please remember the data is not encripted therefore I use the downloads to automatically update non-sensitive files.

I update my portfolio and bank files manually (using the same programme) and back up to a flash drive, using another computer which is not connected to the internet.

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Godfrey Leighton

Sep 15, 2012 at 22:46

I am resient abroad and want to deal in the UK, US and Canada.

Which is better, Interactive, Saxo Bank, TD Waterhouse UK or Internaxx.

Anyone know anything about INTERNATIONAL BROKERS INC?

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John Freeman

Dec 09, 2012 at 15:57

For international needs, I use TD Direct Investing in Luxembourg (formerly Internaxx) : access to most of the markets and multi-currency account are great.

For my UK requirements I use Hargreaves Lansdown.

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Dan London

Jan 20, 2014 at 19:42



SIPP ACCOUNT FUNDS & £ 58867 @0.45 = £265.00

SHARES. £ 87173. Capped =£200.00

Investment Trusts. £50826 Capped=£200.00

Vanguard Tracker funds £21627 @0.45 =£97.32

Total SIPP Platform Charges £ 762.32

ISA ACCOUNT. FUNDS. £ 165122 @ 0.45% = £743.05

SHARES. £ 36409. Capped. = £45.00

INV TRUSTS. £ 37550 Capped. = £45.00

Total ISA Platform Charges. £833.05

Total ISA & SIPP Platform Charge per Annum £ 1596.37 !

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John Osborne

Jan 21, 2014 at 00:41

@Dan London

I think the charges for existing funds 0.45% £265 and £743 would be more than offset by increased Loyalty Bonus to 0.7% on existing funds, so subject to confirmation of the exact funds and with HL you may be able to deduct £1000 from your estimate.

Otherwise you may be correct unless the charges in the SIPP are lumped together and capped, which does not appear to be the case unfortunately.

The Vanguard trackers may also still attract the separate charge, not sure if that has changed, but HL offer other low cost trackers.

Suggest you use their advertised wonderful customer service to enquire direct to check as small print seems to be a lot more complex now.

It could be argued that their new high additional £200 charges for ITs in SIPPs are a rotten trick to "incentivise" clients to remain in OEICs, in which case it may backfire when they vote with their feet!

The extra charge of, in effect, of £45 for ITs outside the SIPP is not too bad when offset against slightly reduced charges if we have Funds (OEICs) as well.

I certainly shall be increasing the value of my account with SippDeal/YouInvest.

For a SIPP they (YouInvest) appear to charge max £100 pa custody for the total account, plus 0.2% PA, capped at £200 for funds, if my reading of their new charges is correct.

Others may wish to comment on the small print of all this headache.

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philip gosling

Nov 09, 2017 at 11:58

Be careful with Interactive Investor they have just announced significant changes to their charges and are replacing their SIPP Provider in December. It seems that families that used to link accounts for one charge will now each get their own charge - a 100% increase for ISAs! You get more trades but we don't use the existing allowance for trades as we buy and hold for quite a long time.

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Nov 09, 2017 at 21:50

@phillip gosling

I was pleasantly surprised to receive this post to a very old thread. Thanks.

It seems, one way or another, most of us are still actively investing, although Dumb Investor is long gone. I.M.O. He traded far too much with too little capital to show signs of real success. (as someone once said: It's not market timing that's important, it's time in the market.)

I should imagine that for most people who invested in 2011 (the start of this thread) they should, by now, be showing a significant profit on their initial capital. If they are not, then they must have made some pretty dumb selections.

My portfolio is ticking along quite nicely, and I no longer worry about platform charges, (dividends received more than cover them)

However, I was thinking about moving to Barclays Smart Investor. I'm glad I didn't, The platform appears quite amateurish and difficult to navigate.

As regards my own selections: I am able to update the stocks which I have sold as a back test. There are of course a few fish which got away, but generally speaking I am happy with the alternatives which I acquired.

Looking to the future, it seems political uncertainty rather than economic certainty will eventually decide our fate. Jeremy Corbin's vision of society was thought of as fantasy a short while ago. Not so now, such is the grotesque disparity between the richest 1% and the rest of us.

The present Govt. has become unstable, so I have got the sell option set with a hair trigger.

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John Osborne

Nov 10, 2017 at 01:12


Glad you have done well, no thanks to Dumb investor except as a discussion forum. Best to leave buried.

A change of government is not going to make much if any difference to overseas stocks which is where most of my investments now, except I have been increasing cash content.

I cant see any rationale in selling all unless a worldwide slump or Korean war and even then it will be too late - what goes down goes up with timing impossible to forecast, but the income should remain the same.

We all have to accept though there will be a steep increase in tax whatever political colour. Not sure which one of the certainties will occur first at my stage of life, but one or the other is inevitable unfortunately.

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Nov 10, 2017 at 17:02

Yes times have changed since Dumb Investor. Best value platforms have too.

Today my choice on best value is Iweb.

An initial joining fee of £25 and after that it's plain sailing as they say. No annual management charges in Isa or normal Investment accounts. (There are fees for a Sipp account which I believe is subbed-out to AJBell / You Invest ).

Flat dealing charge of £5 for Shares, IT's or Funds/Oeics. Zero trailing commission on funds. For me this broker provides a substantial saving in charges alone as well as £600+pa reduction in dealing charges (based on my typical 120 trades a year - yes I know I need to reduce this number).

Research facilties are provided by Digital Look - same provider as for HL . Personally I use the Digital look direct website for most research and until very recently have used Yahoo to update my charting package all free of charge. After fifteen years of working this way Yahoo have just discontinued the "free" on demand streaming service and I am currently refining other avenues to maintain my charting database which seems to have become vital to some of my decision making.

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