Charles Stanley Direct Pension Review

as of 09/03/2021 at 11:06 am

Our View

Service remains strong and their customers rate the call centre well. The problems lie with the site, which is difficult to navigate and to find a path through. Fund research is deeply hidden – when you actually get there, it is all quite good. Feedback is that the outsourced pension arrangement can make the customer service less strong than normal.

Our Pension Rating

Recommended For

Confident Investor

In a nutshell

Good customer service

Wide choice of investments

Good fund research

You Say

Your overall rating

Based on 128 reviews

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What to Expect

Investment Choice


Stocks and Shares ISA

Junior ISA

Investment Account


Investments available

Own brand funds

Funds from other groups

Stocks and shares

Ethical investments

Investment help

Robo advice / ready-made portfolios

Includes a shortlist of investments

Pick your own funds

Pick your own shares


Charles Stanley Direct outsource their drawdown provider making processes reportedly slow for customers. Customers like CSD’s simplicity and straightforward service otherwise but the addition of another provider in the overall picture for drawdown pensions seems to make things worse.

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The 'Geeky' Details

Provider details

Charles Stanley make their charges clear and relatively simple – their maximum platform charge for holding investments is 0.35%. 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 – each time you buy or sell a share they charge £11.50.

For SIPP accounts there is a £120 annual charge, but this is waived if you hold more than £30,000 in total across accounts on the platform.

There is lots of choice and research 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.

Important Facts & Figures

Provider Size:

Mid-sized investment platform administering around £2.5bn

Minimum amounts: £500 minimum initial investment, unless investing monthly
£100 minimum monthly investment

Your Questions

"We currently have around £135k in a Scottish Mortgage fund with Baillie Gifford. We’ve received a letter stating that they plan to transfer us to Hargreaves Lansdown who will charge the same fees as Baillie Gifford for 3 years. Is this a good idea or should we look elsewhere? Should we consider Charles Stanley Direct, for example? Matthew"

Matthew, London


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"Where can I get a good Junior ISA?"

Rebeccah, Greater London


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"Following the announcement of the platform increase at Charles Stanley Direct I think this is an ideal time to review my finances. My ISA started out with 100% in St James's Place, but following new investments and transfers over the last 3 years, I currently have about two thirds of my ISA in funds with Charles Stanley Direct and about one third left with St James's Place. Having outperformed the St James's Place funds with my own choices, I was planning on transferring the remaining one third to Charles Stanley Direct. However the recent announcement in platform price increases at Charles Stanley Direct is making me have a serious re-think. Having less than 250K invested, it seems to put me in the worst position possible, with the 40% increase in platform fees. I also have a private pension that I transferred to St James's Place, and I contribute a small amount into it monthly. Would I be correct in thinking the fees are also high on this, and I could do better elsewhere? Can I transfer into an SIPP for example? I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts."

Gerry, Bedfordshire


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