12 min Read
04 Oct 2016

Hargreaves Lansdown fund platform, SIPP & ISA review

Hargreaves Lansdown fund platform review

HL-office-daytimeHargreaves Lansdown is the largest UK fund platform managing around £55.3bn for 736,000 clients. They also offer a range of investment tools, guides and research as well as ready-made portfolios to keep investing simple.  But is their investment platform actually any good? Would I recommend their Vantage Stocks and Shares ISA? Is the Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP the best in the market?

The range of services offered by Hargreaves Lansdown fund platform

The following is a list of core products offered on the Hargreaves Lansdown platform:

ISAs

Pensions

Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP - in detail

  • The Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP is a market leader provided by the UK’ largest investment provider
  • Investments can be made in unit trusts, investment trusts, individual UK & overseas shares, bonds, gilts & ETFs
  • Free research from in-house experts
  • Great variety of tools to assist investment decisions
  • Accepts transfers from a range of pension products
  • Manage online, by phone or post
  • Start investing from as little as £25 per month

However, make sure you read my summary at the foot of this article for some of the negatives of the Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP.

Easy to read guide on getting the most from a SIPP

Find out how

– to get started with a SIPP

– to benefit from the pension freedoms

– to improve your existing pensions in a few simple steps

– to calculate how much you need to save in to a pension

Download your FREE guide

Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP – customer reviews

The following reviews are a sample from independent consumer sites such as Trustpilot and Which?

  • Massively impressed. Changed all my small pension plans gathered over the into one place’
  • ‘Your service is BRILLIANT. Your website is so easy to use and your staff always have the correct answer to any queries.
  • ‘Service provided has been excellent – it is unusual to get the service promised by the advertising but in this case you do’
  • ‘Quick, efficient, informative, courteous and charming staff. Most impressed!’
  • ‘I have found the experience really easy and enjoyable dealing with HL. I have no issues at all with their service and would recommend them’.

Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage Stocks and Shares ISA – in detail

  • The Hargreaves Lansdown ISA investment choice, tools and research are as listed for the Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP above.
  • Open an ISA with a lump sum from £100 or start a monthly direct debit from £25 per month
  • Top up your ISA at any time with your debit card
  • Choose from 6 ready made portfolios or manage your investment yourself (details of the Hargreaves Lansdown investment range are covered later)

Hargreaves Lansdown ISA reviews – real customer reviews

The following reviews are a sample from independent consumer sites:

  • ‘Easy to use interface, with large range of expertise and guidance for personal investment’
  • ‘HL have exceeded my expectations on all fronts’
  • ‘The HL website is very easy to navigate, with all the tools and information that any investor could require’
  • It may be more expensive than other services but it is very professional
  • ‘Very little to complain about, certainly getting more than I expected for the price’

What’s the investment choice like on Hargreaves Lansdown’s platform?

Investment choice is one of the strong points Hargreaves Lansdown has over nearly all other investment platforms out there. Hargreaves Lansdown doesn’t restrict your investment choice and offers access to over 2,500 funds. While most DIY investors will usually only invest in funds (unit trusts), in my experience, most will eventually want to invest in ETFs and Investment trusts as well. These are usually cheaper yet not widely available on most other fund platforms. In addition, Hargreaves Lansdown is a stock broker too which means that it offers the ability to buy and hold individual shares on its platform. To see the full range of investments within each category, and to ensure you can access the investments you want to, click on the links below.

My advice to anyone looking to choose the best investment platform for them is to ensure they have access to sufficient investment choices. It doesn’t explicitly cost you any more to have access to such a wide range. Think of it like food shopping in a large supermarket versus a small corner shop. The former can offer products to all its customers thanks to the benefit of economies of scale, regardless of how much each individual customer buys. The same goes for fund platforms and Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK’s leading fund platform provider.

As well as a wide investment choice Hargreaves Lansdown also gives its platform users access to a range of investment tools. These include the ability to set stop-loss and limit orders, receive real time share alerts and manipulate interactive charts. Again most other investment platforms do not offer these.

How much does it cost to hold investments with Hargreaves Lansdown?

Cost is critical when it comes to choosing a suitable fund platform and cheapest isn’t always best. The trouble is that different fund platforms apply different charges to different investments. This makes direct comparison difficult. Also some fund platforms will charge for statements or switching funds. So it’s important to glance through Hargreaves Lansdown’s full list of possible charges to check what will apply to you. This is especially important if you plan to invest in ETFs and investment trusts at some point in the future. But to summarise, on Hargreaves Lansdown’s platform:

  • It is free to hold shares, bonds or gilts and ETFs
  • There are no fund switch charges
  • Fund charges are tiered within brands starting at 0.45% p.a. on the first £250,000 of funds, 0,25% p.a. on the value between £250,000 and £1m, 0.1% p.a. no the value between £1m and £2m, and no charge on the value of funds over £2m

In general Hargreaves Lansdown is very competitively priced (and often the cheapest platform) for investors with portfolios worth up to £100,000. For those with larger portfolios it is possible to negotiate charge discounts on an individual basis.

Free tools and investment advice offered by Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown offer a selection of free tools and guides to help investors make the most from their investments. The following is a selection of the best on offer and can even be used by non-clients:

Does Hargreaves Lansdown offer a smartphone or tablet app?

Hargreaves Lansdown offer an excellent iPhone and Android app as well as an app for the iPad which are the best provided by any investment platform. The Hargreaves Lansdown app has the following features:

  • Securely view and manage all your investments
  • Comprehensive dealing service
  • Create virtual portfolios with HL Watchlists
  • Up-to-date prices, news and research
  • Customisable dashboard
  • Interactive fund and share factsheets
  • Free guides
  • Video interviews with UK leading fund managers
  • Synchronisation across devices

Summary – Hargreaves Lansdown review – Should you use them?

The Hargreaves Lansdown platform is very competitively priced, particularly for investors with portfolios worth up to £100,000. For those with larger portfolios it is possible to negotiate charge discounts on an individual basis. Regardless of the size of your portfolio you must read through their brief guide to possible charges to make sure you are aware of what you might be charged for, as my analysis assumed you only invest in funds. As far as their Vantage Stocks & Shares ISA and the Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP are concerned they remain the market leaders.

One negative of Hargreaves Lansdown is that they charge a fee should you want to move away from them to another platform. My sense is that in time this will change due to consumer pressure. Having said that, you can reduce the size of the exit penalty to just £25 if you liquidate your investments prior to transferring away. But you can take some comfort in the fact that Hargreaves Lansdown is widely liked by its clients for its levels of customer service, investment choice, website and apps. Their platform is also widely used by investment professionals when running their personal investments. This is in part because of the aforementioned tools such as stop-loss and limit orders which can protect your money should markets fall.

In fact I have been asked to be on an judging panel for an industry award to decide the best investment platform for consumers. In all honesty my vote would go to the Hargreaves Lansdown investment platform.

On top of that you can open an account in minutes (something other investment platforms fail at) with a debit card and start investing from as little as £25 per month. Here is the quickest way to open an account. One personal tip, if you are at all unsure start by investing a small amount with Hargreaves Lansdown (or indeed any investment platform) as you can then always increase your investment and move your existing portfolio across at a later date.

Article overview

Key points

  • The Hargreaves Lansdown platform & SIPP are very competitively priced, particularly for investors with portfolios worth up to £100,000.
  • For those with larger portfolios it is possible to negotiate charge discounts on an individual basis.
  • Regardless of the size of your portfolio you must read through their brief guide to possible charges to make sure you are aware of what you might be charged for, as my analysis assumed you only invest in funds.
  • As far as their Vantage Stocks & Shares ISA and the Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP are concerned they remain the market leaders.
  • Download this easy to read guide on getting the most from a SIPP to find out how:
    • to get started with a SIPP
    • to benefit from the pension freedoms
    • to improve your existing pensions in a few simple steps
    • to calculate how much you need to save in to a pension

Written by Damien

Damien is one of the most widely quoted money and investment experts in the national press and has made numerous radio & TV appearances. He created MoneytotheMasses.com while working in the City when he became disillusioned with the way the public were left to fend for themselves because they could not afford financial advice.

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