Dodl review: AJ Bell launches app-only investment platform

6 min Read Published: 14 Jan 2022

Dodl review What is Dodl?

Investing platform AJ Bell is launching a new app-only platform called Dodl. The new proposition is set to come to market in the first half of 2022, promising low fees and a simple, easy-to-use interface. Although the full details have yet to be released, it will be positioned to rival investment apps such as Freetrade.

The launch comes against the backdrop of strong growth from AJ Bell over the past year, over which time customer numbers have gone up by 30%, with net inflows up more than 50% to £6.4bn and total assets under administration at £72.8bn.

Dodl key features

  • App-only, user friendly and no jargon 
  • Annual charge of 0.15%, no commission for buying/selling
  • 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?

Although we will have to wait to see the finished product, Dodl 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.

Its stand-out features are its low fees - 0.15% annual charge and no fees for buying or selling investments - as well as a good range of investment wrappers, which includes a Lifetime ISA (LISA) alongside a Stocks & Shares ISA, General Investment Account (GIA) and pension.

Dodl fees and charges

Dodl is launching with an annual charge of just 0.15%, which compares with an equivalent charge of 0.25% for investments up to £250,000 with AJ Bell Youinvest, its main investment platform. Unlike Youinvest, Dodl doesn't levy charges for buying or selling investments, although Youinvest does offer a far wider range of investment choice.

AJ Bell has confirmed it plans to allow Dodl customers to access overseas shares "soon after launch", but it is unclear whether there will be currency charges associated with that option.

As it stands, the minimum monthly investment is £1 per Dodl account.

Dodl Pros and Cons

It is hard to draw conclusions about the merits of Dodl before all of the information about the platform has been released, but based on what we already know, it's possible to assess how it could stack up against existing offerings. 

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 
  • Some people may find the inclusion of a monster character off-putting as it could be seen to be "dumbing down" 

Dodl Alternatives

Dodl vs Freetrade

The most obvious comparison to draw is between Dodl and Freetrade, which is an investment app providing commission-free trading on UK and US shares. While both aim to provide a low-fee model, Freetrade users can invest in over 6,000 shares compared to just 50 with Dodl, although Freetrade doesn't have the option to invest in funds. There is, of course, the possibility that Dodl will rapidly expand its range of shares once it gains traction after launch, although this remains to be seen.

The area where Dodl does have the edge over Freetrade is in the choice of wrappers, with the option of a LISA. Meanwhile, investors will have to wait to see how the charges stack up, with Dodl yet to release details of potential additional costs, including withdrawal fees, inactivity fees or currency conversion charges.

For more details, read our Freetrade review.

Dodl vs Trading 212

Trading 212 was a pioneer of commission-free trading back in 2016 and still attracts users with its low costs and user-friendly app, which includes informative tutorials and guides for new investors. In that respect there are similarities with Dodl, with both apps targeting new investors with little knowledge of investing.

Unlike Dodl, Trading 212 allows both CFD and Forex trading, which are at the riskier end of the investment spectrum. It also allows users to invest in shares, ETFs, gold and cryptocurrencies. It's unclear at this point whether Dodl will move into these areas of the market in the future, although it seems highly unlikely in the short to medium term.

For more details, read our full Trading 212 review.

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. With the few details we have the basic structure of Dodl seems promising, although we'll have to wait to see how the finished proposition is received by investors in 2022.