25 min Read
13 Sep 2019

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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Fidelity Review – Is it the best broker for UK Investors In 2019?

Fidelity reviewFidelity International Review

This is an independent Fidelity review in which I look at whether it is the best investment platform in the UK. I look at Fidelity products (including the Fidelity ISA and the Fidelity SIPP), its services as well as Fidelity's charges and investment range. I have personally used the Fidelity Fundsnetwork platform (which is Fidelity's service platform for UK financial advisers) as well as the main Fidelity International platform (which is aimed at consumers) for more than a decade. This article focuses on the consumer platform and as such is more a Fidelity International review. In it I will cover the positives and negatives of Fidelity, as well as some frustrations I have experienced when using the platform. You can use the links below to skip to key sections within this Fidelity review, but I recommend that you read it from beginning to end.

Who is Fidelity International?

Fidelity Investments was founded in 1946 and in 1969 it launched an international arm, now known as Fidelity International. Fidelity International has over 2.4 million clients globally (1 million of which are in the UK) and is responsible for over £300 billion of client assets. To give this some context Hargreaves Lansdown, which has the largest share of the UK consumer platform market, has 1.1 million clients and is responsible for around £100 billion of assets. Comparing Fidelity vs Hargreaves Lansdown there are some notable differences between these two platforms. For example, Fidelity International advises on and administers employer pension schemes. Fidelity also has an investment platform, called the Fidelity Fundsnetwork, through which UK financial advisers can invest and manage their clients' money whereas Hargreaves Lansdown does not offer such services, given that it is, in fact, a financial advisory firm in its own right. While Hargreaves Lansdown does manage a few of its own funds its internal fund range is much smaller in size compared to Fidelity's in-house fund range.

Fidelity account types

Fidelity's online platform allows investors to invest in investment trusts, unit trusts and ETFs via each of the following Fidelity account types:

Fidelity Investment ISA

A Fidelity Investment ISA allows you to invest in a tax-efficient environment. Investments can be made up to the current annual ISA allowance of £20,000 (2019/20 tax year). A regular savings Fidelity Investment ISA can be started for as little as £50 per month. Via a Fidelity ISA you can invest in a range of unit trusts ETFs. Transfers in are accepted for existing Stocks and Shares ISAs held with other providers.

Fidelity Junior ISA

With a Fidelity Junior ISA parents and guardians can build up a lump sum in a tax-efficient wrapper that can be accessed by the child once they reach the age of 18. Investment can be made up to the current Junior ISA allowance of £4,368 per child (2019/20 tax year) each year. A regular savings Fidelity Junior ISA can be started with as little as £50 per month. Again, you can invest in a wide range of funds, ETFs and Investment trusts and transfers in are accepted for existing Junior ISAs held with other providers.

 Fidelity SIPP

A Fidelity Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) is aimed at those saving for retirement and can be started with just £50 a month. You can contribute up to £40,000 per year depending on your earnings, and receive tax relief available at your highest marginal tax rate. Tax relief at 20% is automatically added to the investor's SIPP and if you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer then further tax relief is available through your self-assessment tax return. You can begin withdrawing from your pension at age 55. As per the Fidelity Junior ISA and Fidelity Stocks and Shares ISA you can invest in unit trusts, investment trusts and ETFs. Pension transfers are accepted from existing pensions with other providers but it always advisable to seek professional financial advice before considering a pension transfer.

Fidelity Junior SIPP

A Fidelity Junior SIPP allows investment by a parent or guardian to be made on behalf of a child that will start to build a fund for their future retirement. There is an added benefit of tax relief of 20% on annual contributions of up to £2,880 therefore increasing the annual investment to £3,600. Once the child reaches the age of 18 control over investments passes to them. A regular contribution Fidelity Junior SIPP can be started for as little as £50 per month.

Fidelity International Trading Account

A general trading account allows you to invest in a wide range of funds, ETFs and Investment trusts with no upper limit to the investment amount outside of any tax wrapper. That means any income or gains are liable to income tax and capital gains tax. Again, you can start a regular savings plan with as little as £50 per month.

Other services

Fidelity Retirement Service

Fidelity specialist advisers are available to assist in all elements of retirement planning including what to do with multiple pension pots and taxation. Meetings can be arranged face to face or by telephone to ensure you get personalised expert advice when you need it most.

Fidelity Wealth

Fidelity Wealth offers a range of additional wealth management benefits for customers with larger accounts (£250,000+). Access to a personal relationship manager to provide guidance on investment strategies, fund selection and portfolio administration and more. Fidelity Wealth clients enjoy a low service fee with no service fee charged for portfolios over £1 million.

Fidelity Wealth clients can also receive invites to complementary events providing insights and perspectives from leading investment experts as well as quarterly portfolio reports showing how their funds are performing. Fidelity Wealth automatically extends all its benefits to everyone in a household who invest with Fidelity regardless of the investment amount.

What can you invest in using Fidelity?

Fidelity offers investment in funds from more than 100 of the leading UK fund managers as well as a range of ETFs and Investment trusts. Fidelity now allows you to invest in shares, something you have been unable to do in the past.

Investment choices can be made in the following ways. I explain how each works in more detail in the next section titled 'How does the Fidelity platform work'.

Fidelity Pathfinder

Fidelity's Pathfinder tool allows clients to choose a ready-made portfolio in line with their risk profile and whether they are investing for growth or income.

Fidelity Select 50

Fidelity Select 50 is a choice of 50 funds made by Fidelity experts updated twice a year. The Fidelity Select 50 funds can be sorted by a range of options according to investment preferences. Fidelity have also launched The Select 50 Balanced Fund where a balanced portfolio has been created using a selection from the Fidelity Select 50 funds.

Fidelity Investment Finder

If a client wants to make their own investment choices then the Fidelity Investment Finder allows them to sort, filter and compare funds, ETFs, Investment Trusts and even Shares to create their own personalised portfolio.

How does the Fidelity platform work?

Fidelity Fundsnetwork works like most other investment platforms. You can open an account online pretty easily as long as you have:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Debit card details  - if you plan to invest a lump sum
  • Bank or building society details - if you planning to invest regularly by direct debit

Once you have chosen the type of account you want (Fidelity ISA, Fidelity SIPP, Flexible Investment Account or Junior ISA) you then have to choose what to invest in. If you need help choosing what to invest in then Fidelity has a Pathfinder tool to help you find a ready-made fund solution. Fidelity has historically always been good at designing user-friendly tools to help bring concepts like investment risk and possible returns to life. Unfortunately, Fidelity redesigned their site in 2018 which resulted in a poor user experience, leaving features such as the pathfinder tool less intuitive than it might have been. The good news is that there have been improvements made since. It can still build neat fan-charts of your possible future returns based on your selected attitude to investment risk. But after that, it then shoehorns you into either an active managed Fidelity fund or a cheaper passive Fidelity fund. With the range of robo-advice propositions in the market such as Moneyfarm, Wealthsimple, Nutmeg, and Wealthify, Fidelity has its work cut out competing with these services. Partly because these robo-advisers online and mobile app interfaces are far slicker but also because they are often cheaper. For example, if you were investing for growth and wanted someone to manage the money for your then the Fidelity Pathfinder tool would suggest the Fidelity Multi Asset Open Adventurous fund. This has an overall annual cost (including Fidelity's service fee) of 1.5% before we include the underlying transaction costs within the fund which can be up to 0.33% a year. Compare this to Nutmeg's equivalent fully managed portfolio annual cost of 1.02%. (which includes typical transaction costs) and you can see that Fidelity's managed single fund solution is expensive.

Fidelity's passive fund solution is fairly keenly priced which keeps costs down to around 0.60% per annum (with additional transaction costs of around 0.06% a year) by investing principally, but not exclusively, in Fidelity's range of ETF trackers. But if you are particularly keen on simple cheap fund solutions then Vanguard's Lifestrategy funds, bought via the Vanguard investment platform cost 0.37% a year (if you have under £250,000) with additional transactions costs of 0.11% per year. However if you have over £50,000 then the cheapest way to invest in Vanguard funds is via Interactive. For more information read our Vanguard Investor review.

Where Fidelity comes into its own is if you want to pick your own funds. For those wanting a bit of guidance, Fidelity produces its Select 50 fund shortlist of funds it rates based on in-house research. It's Fidelity's equivalent to Hargreaves Lansdown's Wealth 150+ list or AJ Bell's Favourite list. Alternatively, you can decide to research your own funds using the Fidelity Investment Finder. There is a huge range of options including over 3,000 funds, 166 investment trusts, 274 ETFs and over 1,000 shares. You can screen by investment house, charges, investment sector, management style or Morningstar rating. However, this is where Fidelity's site lets it down versus other platforms. Being able to perform research and compare funds is still a bit cumbersome and frustrating. If, like me, you carry out your own investment research and only use your investment platform to check fund details before transacting then much of this frustrations can be avoided. The 2018 site design looks like it was designed with tablets and mobile devices in mind rather than desktops. However, many investors prefer to use a desktop when making investment decisions and placing transactions. This issue from Fidelity's point of view was  compounded by Hargreaves Lansdown relaunching its website at around the same time and was even more user-friendly. Online investment platforms aim to give a slick online experience which hides the fact that there is an army of administrators behind the scenes. However, with Fidelity, you get a sense that you are combating technical and administrative legacy issues and that makes the online service slightly clunkier than it needs to be.

As a long-term user of Fidelity that can lead to frustrations when using what is otherwise a good platform. However, like many online consumer websites (such as Amazon) familiarity with them eventually mitigates some of the earlier user-frustrations and since it's original redesign in 2018, improvements have been noted. Fidelity has one of the most competitive platforms in terms of cost which I discuss in the next couple of sections and it is for that reason that many users will learn to live with some of the online frustrations which you hope will be ironed out in time.

Fidelity Investment ISA Review

Fidelity Investment ISA is supported by more than 45 years experience in the investment market with over 1 million customers in the UK. It is quick and easy to open a Fidelity Investment ISA with access to investments 24/7 by telephone or online. Fidelity also offers a Fidelity Junior ISA where investments can be made for a child's future. The list of charges that apply to the Fidelity ISA are shown below. However, Fidelity's ISA charges compare favourably to other ISA providers, particularly if you have between £10,000 and £100,000 invested. While not necessarily the cheapest they remain very competitive across this range of portfolio size. This is attractive because many platforms are only attractive to either high value or low-value portfolios. In this instance, as your portfolio grows in size with each annual ISA subscription it becomes advisable to move fund providers if you want to keep costs competitive. Fidelity's charges make that less of an issue plus they do not charge an exit fee if you wish to transfer your Stocks and Shares ISA to another provider at a later date.

Fidelity Investment ISA Fees

Annual Service Fee

£0 to £7,499.99

  • £45 fixed fee without regular savings plan
  • 0.35% with regular savings plan
  • £25 for Junior ISAs/Junior Pensions

£7,500 to £249,999.99

  • 0.35%

£250,000 TO £1 million

  • 0.20%

Over £1 million

  • No charge

Note - All fees are charged on the entire portfolio across all accounts

 Fidelity ISA reviews – real customer reviews

'New site is really easy and clear to navigate and use. Love the personal approach to investing. I managed to open my ISA really quickly (in about 2 minutes!!), I should have done this a long time ago' - K

'My experience of Fidelity have only ever been excellent. The reason I came here to post a review was a relationship manager who went an extra mile to get something sorted (thank you) and when I phone they are always helpful.' - CB

'I've been with them for years and have had excellent service with my ISA. Now am considering moving SIPP to them too' - SP

Fidelity SIPP Review

Fidelity SIPP is a simple tax-efficient way to start saving for your own or a child's retirement. Much like the Fidelity ISA it offers a wide range of investment solutions. However, it is very competitively priced if you wish to invest in funds and have a portfolio of up to £250,000. The other provider with as competitive costs across a range of portfolio sizes up to this amount is AJ Bell. As you'd expect the Fidelity SIPP offers drawdown when you get to retirement. The fees for the Fidelity SIPP are as follows:

Fidelity SIPP Fees

Annual Service Fee

£0 to £7,499.99

  • £45 fixed fee without regular savings plan
  • 0.35% with regular savings plan
  • £25 for Junior ISAs/Junior Pensions

£7,500 to £249,999.99

  • 0.35%

£250,000 TO £1 million

  • 0.20%

Over £1 million

  • No charge

Note - All fees are charged on the entire portfolio across all accounts

Fidelity SIPP – real customer reviews

  • 'Although, there are slightly cheaper and reputable platforms available... none have been as simple and diverse as Fidelity.co.uk' - AA
  • 'I can't praise this company's customer service staff highly enough.
    In my opinion, they set the benchmark to which other companies should aspire' - NA
  • 'Really great information site, they made choosing a fund to invest in really easy' - HS

Fidelity Trading Account review

Fidelity Trading account allows investment in a range of funds, ETFs, Investment Trusts and shares with no upper limit to the amount invested.

Trading Account Fees

Annual Service Fee

£0 to £7,499.99

  • £45 fixed fee without regular savings plan
  • 0.35% with regular savings plan
  • £25 for Junior ISAs/Junior Pensions

£7,500 to £249,999.99

  • 0.35%

£250,000 TO £1 million

  • 0.20%

Over £1 million

  • No charge

Note - All fees are charged on the entire portfolio across all accounts

 Fidelity Trading Account - real customer reviews

  • 'Received my latest Fidelity fund performance review. Sent timely. Pleased to see the funds are doing well and that they continue to be a well-run organisation. Good to see that the Special Situations Fund continues to do well' CB
  • 'I have had to research a switch of funds and found the research resources improved. Giving growth over 10, 5,1 and YTD, without having to look at the individual investment information ie allowing you to shortlist funds before looking at particular funds in detail' - H
  • 'In my opinion, the products and services at Fidelity are varied and tailor-made for individual needs. Their magazine is informative and I have always found their customer care service very helpful' - SL

Summary – Fidelity International review – Should you use them?

Fidelity is one of the leading players in the UK platform space. If we start with the positives, Fidelity has a wide range of investment choices including ETFs and investment trusts. I was pleasantly surprised to see the range of ETFs available as this had previously been a space where there was a difference between Fidelity vs Interactive investor, one of the platforms favoured by more sophisticated investors (you can read our full Interactive Investor review). In terms of cost, Fidelity performs well against all the major platforms and is particularly attractive if you have a SIPP under £250,000. For many people it’s a choice between Fidelity vs Hargreaves. If you want access to research, the ability to genuinely compare and chart funds then Hargreaves Lansdown wins. Plus I would argue that Hargreaves Lansdown's customer service record is also superior. However, if you want to simply invest in funds and shares, then Fidelity ticks most boxes and they don't lock you in with exit fees. It is broadly speaking one of the cheapest platforms for most people based on portfolio size which makes life easier if your plan to continue to contribute to your ISA or SIPP (i.e you won't have to keep shopping around for the best price as your portfolio grows). The negatives are mostly functionality issues online which are improving as time goes on. In any event, if you carry out your own investment research prior to buying funds then you shouldn't be put off.

Fidelity Alternatives

For those looking for regular research communications, strong customer service, a wide investment choice (including share buying) and a seamless online (including smartphone app) experience then Hargreaves Lansdown remains the market leader. Having used both Fidelity and Hargreaves Lansdown I can understand why. You can read my full Hargreaves Lansdown review. Another viable alternative from a cost perspective is AJ Bell. You can read my AJ Bell review in full here. If you only ever plan to buy passive tracker funds then Vanguard Investor will likely be the cheapest platform although they do not currently offer a SIPP.

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