The service is good and the choice is plentiful.
The relatively low price tag makes this a contender for many people who can see beyond complex dashboards.
What we say
Holly has accounts with all the providers on our website and independently reviews all of them.
Service remains strong and customers rate the call centre well. The problems lie with the site which is difficult to navigate and to find a path through - it's not as slick as some competitors. Fund research is deeply hidden – when you actually get there, it is all quite good. But the website can sometimes feel like a frustrating maze to get through. The firm has recently produced some good content to help beginner investors which is worth a look.
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Best Buy 2021
Best Buy for Beginner ISA
Best Buy for Customer Service
Ease of use
The website has undergone a lot of changes over the last year with the logged-in state a lot clearer and easier to use.
If you’re an inexperienced or tentative investor the ‘Not sure where to start’ function is a clear, simple way of determining what might be the right investment for you. Once you’ve found your way to the right product or investment, trading is straightforward, the reporting is clear, and the customer service is good.
Mobile & Apps
The app has improved a lot recently, and you can now trade and add both funds and shares.
The app is a lot cleaner than the desktop version and their secure messaging feature should be common across all apps. The ability to customise what is displayed on the app is handy and you can reveal more information by tilting to a landscape view. The app still features a lot of jargon but is visually very appealing.
Behind the scenes
There are two sides behind the scenes. The newly updated pages such as the image to the left, are clean with improved functionality. However, within the older pages, there is often a lot of small font and many numbers on a page – probably a nightmare for those with tricky eyesight. Overall there is a nice visual display of fund research although the pages do carry a lot of jargon.
Stocks and Shares ISA
Own brand funds
Funds from other groups
Stocks and shares
Robo advice / ready-made portfolios
Includes a shortlist of investments
Pick your own funds
Pick your own shares
The 'Geeky' Details
Charles Stanley Direct is a relatively cheap way to invest for those with less than £50,000 to invest, at 0.35% per year, plus any fund management costs. There are no fund dealing charges, so for investors putting small amounts into a few different funds on a monthly basis it is low cost. You can also buy company shares. There is also an annual £120 fee for a pension for investors holding less than £30,000 on the platform.
The platform is now a lot more accessible for less confident investors, with Charles Stanley having recently launched a 'New to Investing' campaign that provides more guidance and educational material to those who need it. The website navigation is constantly improving, which is vital considering the multiple fund choices and research options available.
The so-called Foundation Fund list shows their favourite funds which is useful. There is also a range of all-in-one funds – the Charles Stanley Multi Asset Funds – for those that want all the investment done for them. These are active funds which are relatively pricey in comparison to passive options.
Expect to pay about 1% all-in for a self-selected ‘active’ portfolio – this is good value. It’s worth considering for Junior ISAs too.
Important Facts & Figures
Mid-sized investment platform administering around £3bn
£50 minimum monthly payment
£500 minimum initial investment into a fund
Charles Stanley Direct