Dodl review: The app-only investment platform from AJ Bell

5 min Read Published: 06 Jun 2022

Dodl review What is Dodl?

Dodl is an app-only platform from investing platform AJ Bell. It is one of the cheapest platforms on the market, with an annual fee of just 0.15% (minimum £1 per month, per account) and no fees for buying or selling funds or shares. It seems to be targeted at young, novice investors due to its simplified approach and stripped back investment choice. This is compounded by the choice of a monster character that guides investors through the sign-up process and helps explain the investment options available.

Dodl has a streamlined range of investments available, with 30 funds and 50 shares, which are traded daily. There are 7 ready-made, risk-rated funds and a range of 23 themed funds. This differentiates it from the main AJ Bell proposition, which has a far broader range of investments available, including day-trading options, which are growing in popularity.

Dodl key features

  • App-only, user friendly and no jargon 
  • Annual charge of 0.15% (minimum £1 per month, per account), no subscription fees and no charge for buying or selling investments
  • ISA, LISA, GIA and pension wrappers
  • Launching with choice of 50 UK shares and 30 funds - including 7 AJ Bell multi-asset funds

How does Dodl work?

To open an account with Dodl, you first need to download the app and then go through the sign-up process, which includes providing your full name, email address, telephone number, date of birth, address, National Insurance number and bank details. You then choose the investment wrapper you want to use. The account options available are:

  • Stocks and shares ISA
  • Lifetime ISA
  • Pension
  • General Investment Account

As it stands, there isn't a Junior ISA. If this is a vehicle you are interested in, read our article "Best Junior Stocks and Shares ISA".

Once you have chosen your account, you either make a lump-sum payment (minimum £100), or arrange a direct debit for a minimum of £25 per month. You can then start building your portfolio from the range of funds and shares available. As there are no fees for buying or selling either funds or shares, you can make changes to your portfolio as often as you like. In terms of fees for using the platform, meanwhile, the cost will be calculated and deducted from your account each month. If there aren't sufficient funds available, you will be notified in advance.

What can you invest in with Dodl?

There are 30 funds you can invest in through Dodl, which includes its own range of funds:

  • AJ Bell Cautious
  • AJ Bell Moderately Cautious
  • AJ Bell Balanced
  • AJ Bell Moderately Adventurous
  • AJ Bell Adventurous
  • AJ Bell Global Growth
  • AJ Bell Responsible Growth

There are also 23 other themed funds:

Theme  Fund 
UK top 100 Vanguard FTSE 100 Index Unit Trust
The home team HSBC Index Tracker Investment Funds - FTSE 250 Index Fund
Across the pond iShares US Equity Index Fund (UK)
On the continent Vanguard FTSE Developed Europe ex UK Equity Index Fund
Going east Fidelity Investment Funds - Index Japan Fund
Be more pacific Vanguard Pacific ex-Japan Stock Index Fund GBP
The global climbers iShares Emerging Markets Index Fund (IE)
On top of the world HSBC Index Tracker Investment Funds - FTSE All World Index Fund
The govt's IOU iShares Gilt Trax Idx
Lending a hand iShares Corporate Bond Index Fund
Hey big lender Vanguard Global Corporate Bond Index Fund £ Hedged
Lending the way iShares Global High Yield Corporate Bond £ Hedged ETF
The world wide debt HSBC Global Funds ICAV - Global Government Bond Index Fund
Big tech Legal & General Global Technology Index Trust
Robo revolution iShares Automation & Robotics ETF
Full health Legal & General Global Health and Pharmaceuticals Index Trust
The building blocks Legal & General Global Infrastructure Index Fund
The property tycoon Legal & General Global Real Estate Dividend Index Fund
The good guys Amundi MSCI UK IMI SRI
A greener world iShares MSCI World SRI UCITS ETF
All-in-one (40% shares) Vanguard LifeStrategy 40% Equity Fund
All-in-one (60% shares) Vanguard LifeStrategy 60% Equity Fund
All-in-one (80% shares) Vanguard LifeStrategy 80% Equity Fund

There are also shares in 50 UK companies, which is much less choice than with many of its competitors, although there is the possibility it will expand as the platform gains traction.

Dodl fees and charges

Dodl has an annual charge of just 0.15%, with a minimum of £1 per month, per account. There is no commission for buying or selling investments. There also isn't a charge for withdrawing cash from your account, with the exception of its Lifetime ISA, which is governed by separate tax rules. Although it is undoubtedly low cost, the requirement to pay a minimum of £1 per month, per account means you only get the 0.15% rate when you invest more than £8,000. If, for example, you had £4,000 in an ISA and Lifetime ISA, you would be required to pay £12 per year for each one.

Dodl is significantly cheaper than the AJ Bell* main investment platform, which charges 0.25% for investments up to £250,000, as well as fees for buying and selling both funds and shares. Generally, it works out cheaper than most other investment platforms, with the notable exception of Vanguard Investor, which charges the same 0.15% annual charge, but without requiring a minimum payment of £1 per month. Vanguard also has a cap of £375 per year, however, it only provides access to its own in-house fund range and doesn't offer investments in shares. There is a breakdown of how Dodl compares to its competitors in the table below:

Comparison of Dodl's fees vs other investment platforms

Investment platform Annual platform charge Monthly subscription
Dodl 0.15% (minimum £1 per month, per account) n/a
Vanguard 0.15% (up to maximum £375) n/a
Nutmeg 0.45% - 0.75% n/a
Moneybox 0.45% £1
Freetrade n/a £3

Dodl Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Easy to use and aimed at new investors
  • Offers a LISA, as well as other wrapper options
  • Can pay by Apple and Google Pay, as well as debit and direct debits

Cons

  • At the outset there will be limited investment choice, with only 50 UK shares and 30 funds 
  • A minimum fee of £1 per month, per account applies, meaning you'll need to invest more than £8,000 to ensure you pay the 0.15% management fee
  • As it is app-only, it may not appeal to those who like being able to access their accounts in other ways. It also doesn't offer the wealth of research and fund information provided by more traditional platforms, including parent company, AJ Bell.

Summary

Having experienced high levels of growth in its main business, an obvious next step for AJ Bell is to move into the burgeoning app-only platform universe. Dodl is likely to be a popular option for those who like a pared back and simple approach to investing, without too many bells and whistles. The fact that it is low cost is likely to add substantially to its overall appeal. However, if you are looking for the cheapest option on the market, there are more cost-effective alternatives. Dodl charges a minimum fee of £1 per month, per account and also doesn't apply a fee cap, meaning those investing less than £8,000 or more than £250,000 would actually be better off investing with Vanguard Investor.

 

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