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Investing for Beginners: Choosing an Investment Platform

Investing your money has never been easier or more accessible than it is today. With countless tools and information available online for new investors, there are many different options available to help increase our wealth.

However, with these helping tools and platforms comes choice: which investing platform is best, or easiest to use? Which one is best suited to your needs? With so many leading investment platforms available to us, choosing and navigating them can be difficult and time consuming. This is why we’ve put together this short guide with some tips on how to find the platform that’s right for you.

What is an investment platform?

In short, an investment platform is an online administration hub where you can buy and sell a range of investments, an online service where you can buy and sell funds. You can do this on an advised basis (using a financial adviser such as our experts here at Greenfields), or on a non-advised basis. Non-advised platforms are also called D2C (direct-to-customer) platforms and means you will be making decisions on your own directly through the platform.

There are many different types and examples of investment platforms available today, and which one you may choose will depend on its suitability for your needs and goals. Some popular D2C examples that may help for you to take a look at to begin your research include:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we’ve featured platforms that have been well known to be useful for beginners. However, if you’re looking for something more sophisticated or just looking to broaden your knowledge, we can help.

What should I be looking for?

First and foremost, any platform you consider should be regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to ensure they are legitimate. You can check for this on the FCA Register.

When selecting which investment platform to use, you should be keeping a few factors in mind. How you decide which platform to use will depend on your specific needs and goals…

1. Charges and fees

Fees for using different platforms can vary significantly, and some will charge in very different ways to others. For example, some platforms charge a flat fee for your business, others will charge a percentage of what you invest. Advised platforms generally range from 0.2 to 0.6%, depending on the amount you’ve invested.

Some of the most common fees you may encounter are fund dealing, admin fees, ongoing adviser chargers and some platforms also include ‘set-up fees’, so it’s important to do your research before signing up so you won’t be caught out.

2. Functionality

Some platforms offer limited capabilities, while others offer wide ranging functionality that enhances your experience. Some platforms allow money to be invested into sophisticated vehicles such as investment trusts.

3. Service/Awards

Does the service consistently achieve awards and great reviews, or have they had some bad press? Word of mouth and testimonials from users in a similar position to yourself can be invaluable when evaluating which platforms to use.

And it’s not just the features of the platform that you need to be looking at. Customer service is another factor that could make or break your investing experience with a platform. Make sure to look at a variety of reviews in different places before making your decision.

Websites like CompareThePlatform can be useful when looking for reviews and direct comparisons between platforms.

4. Wrapper and Asset Range

Not all platforms hold the range of investment wrappers and assets that each investor desires. For example, not all platforms allow direct shares to be held. If this is something you’re interested in or passionate about, it may not be the right choice for you, but there will always be another option to consider.

5. Financial Stability

The profitability of a platform can be crucial in your decision. Occasionally, mergers can occur between platforms, which you need to be aware of in case this affects your investments, how much you’re charged, or the market itself. Keeping up to date with recent changes your chosen platform has gone through and any that may arise further along the line is an important way to keep your goals in mind.

As mentioned, any choices you make in terms of how you choose to invest should be based on your specific goals and needs. There is no one-fits-all option when it comes to investing, so take the time to do research and decide what’s best for you. If you’re interested in using an investment platform or are new to investing but are feeling overwhelmed, we can help.

At Greenfields, we assess the above factors in depth whenever a recommendation is made to a client, in order to see what a platform offers and whether it aligns with their aims and objectives. If you’re looking to start your investment journey or build your wealth further using investment platforms, we’re providing free, no obligation consultations for new customers. To book, call us on 01258 857101 or visit our Contact page.

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