Hargreaves Lansdown Review – is it the best place for your ISA & SIPP?

25 min Read Published: 06 Jun 2022

Hargreaves Lansdown investment platform review

Hargreaves Lansdown* is the largest UK fund platform managing around £132bn for over 1.7 million clients. It offers a range of investment tools, guides and research as well as ready-made investment portfolios and a new cash management service. But is the Hargreaves Lansdown investment platform actually any good? Would I recommend its Vantage Stocks and Shares ISA? Is the Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP the best in the market? First, let's look at some of the pros and cons of Hargreaves Lansdown.

Hargreaves Lansdown Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
tick Good selection of ready-made portfolios

tick Excellent website and app

tick Great in-depth research and tools

cross Not the cheapest when trading shares

cross No live chat support

 

What products does Hargreaves Lansdown offer?

Hargreaves Lansdown Stocks and Shares ISA

The Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage Stocks & Shares ISA* offers an easy to manage, tax-efficient way of investing in a range of assets along with some handy investment tools. The Vantage Stocks & Shares ISA allows you to choose from a range of ready-made portfolios or make your own investment choices to maximise your investment returns.

Hargreaves Lansdown Junior ISA

The Junior Stocks & Shares ISA* allows you to save for a child's future in a tax-efficient environment ring-fenced until the child reaches the age of 18. In our roundup of the best Stocks and Shares Junior ISAs the Hargreaves Lansdown Junior ISA was deemed the best for tools and functionality.

Hargreaves Lansdown Lifetime ISA

The Hargreaves Lansdown Lifetime ISA* allows those saving for a deposit on their first property to take advantage of an annual 25% bonus on contributions from the Government. If you want to know more about how the Lifetime ISA works then Hargreaves has produced a free easy to understand Lifetime ISA factsheet. Hargreaves Lansdown is one of the few providers to offer a Lifetime ISA that allows you to save Cash as well as invest in Stocks and Shares. It is great for flexibility and features in our 'Best and Cheapest Lifetime ISAs' roundup on YouTube.

Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share account

With its wealth of investment tools, news & live share prices Hargreaves Lansdown share trading service* is a low-cost simple way of trading in the stock market. The Share dealing service can be accessed via the Hargreaves Lansdown ISA and SIPP which sets it apart from many other investment platforms. Or you can access the share dealing service via the Hargreaves Lansdown Fund & Share Account*, which is Hargreaves Lansdown's version of a general investment account, in which case there is no platform fee charged by Hargreaves Lansdown. The HL Fund and Share account therefore provides a low-cost flexible investment account to deal, manage and hold a wide range of investments.

Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP

Hargreaves Lansdown offers a comprehensive service if you are either looking to start planning for retirement or close to retirement and want to control your investments and understand your options. The Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP* is an award-winning self-invested personal pension that allows investment in a full range of assets including funds, ETFs and stock & shares giving clients full control over their retirement planning.

Hargreaves Lansdown Active Savings

Hargreaves Lansdown Active Savings* was launched in the summer of 2018. It is a cash service that helps consumers get a better rate on their savings. Hargreaves Lansdown is the only investment platform to offer such a service. Once you sign up you can choose the savings product with the best savings rate at a click of a button and the account is automatically opened and your money deposited. When the fixed term comes to an end (i.e after 1 year) you can then move your money to a new fixed-term savings account at a click of a button and with no form filling. Additionally, Hargreaves Lansdown now provides access to cash ISAs through the Active Savings service. You can read more in our "Hargreaves Lansdown active savings review"

What other services does Hargreaves Lansdown offer?

  • Hargreaves Lansdown Wealth Shortlist - The Wealth Shortlist is a selection of funds that Hargreaves Lansdown believes has the best potential within their respective sectors. The shortlist currently has a list of 71 funds and we look at its past performance later in this review.
  • Fund Finder - The fund finder allows investors to search for a particular fund by sector, unit type, fund type, provider and more.
  • Master portfolios - Master portfolios are designed to be a starting point whereby Hargreaves Landsdown provides a portfolio of funds, but the overall responsibility for allocating money to each fund and managing the portfolio rests with the investor and as such, the portfolios do not constitute personal advice. There are five different portfolio styles to choose from including Adventurous, Medium Risk, Conservative, Investing for Children and Investing for Income.
  • Portfolio+ - Hargreaves Lansdown offers six ready-made portfolios that invest in a broad range of assets from a number of countries, helping to diversify risk. The portfolios are monitored regularly and rebalanced twice a year. There is no additional cost for investing in a ready-made portfolio however there is a minimum investment of £1,000.
  • Foreign Currency Exchange - You can transfer more than 40 different currencies with Hargreaves Lansdown's foreign currency exchange service either online or over the phone.
  • Spread Betting and CFDs - Hargreaves Lansdown provides access to Spread Betting and CFDs through its partner IG. These types of products are designed for active and experienced investors.

Free tools and investment advice offered by Hargreaves Lansdown

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

What are Hargreaves Lansdown's fees?

Below we list the costs when investing with Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown Annual platform charges

The below charges apply to the Hargreaves Lansdown ISA, SIPP, Junior ISA and Lifetime ISA.

Amount invested Annual charge by Hargreaves Lansdown
£0-£250,000 0.45%
£250,000 - £1 million 0.25%
£1million - £2 million 0.10%
Over £2 million 0.00%

Hargreaves Lansdown share dealing charges

Annual fees

Details Annual charge by Hargreaves Lansdown
Shares held in an ISA 0.45% capped at £45 per year
Shares held in a General Investment Account No charge

Dealing fees

Deals made in previous calendar month Cost per deal
0-9 £11.95
10-19 £8.95
20+ £5.95

How does the Hargreaves Lansdown platform work?

It is simple to set up a Hargreaves Lansdown account (an ISA, SIPP or trading account) and this will provide access to all their investment options, excellent research and a range of tools and calculators. Alongside the various types of investment account mentioned above, you can open an Active Savings account which will let you maximise the amount of interest you receive on your savings. However, the Active Savings account cannot be used within a Hargreaves Lansdown Stocks and Shares ISA, SIPP or a general investment account.

It takes around 10 minutes to set up an account and you'll need your national insurance number and your bank details handy. The Hargreaves Lansdown website is clear and easy to use with access to a variety of excellent investment guides. Hargreaves Lansdown offers the best iPhone and Android app of all the investment platforms as well as an app for the iPad. Accounts can be fully managed straight from the app which is an excellent service for the busy modern investor.

               

What can you invest in using Hargreaves Lansdown?

With Hargreaves Lansdown, you can invest in the following:

  • Over 3,900 funds
  • Shares listed on the UK, Canadian and European stock exchanges
  • Corporate and Government bonds
  • ETFs
  • Investment trusts

Investment choice is one of the key advantages Hargreaves Lansdown has over nearly all other investment platforms out there. Hargreaves Lansdown doesn't restrict your investment choice and offers access to over 3,900 funds as well as a cash management service (called Active Savings).

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 stockbroker too which means that it offers the ability to buy and hold individual shares on its platform.

My advice to anyone looking to choose the best investment platform 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.

Hargreaves Lansdown Wealth Shortlist performance

Performance is a key factor for many investors and so the table below shows how a broad measure of the average return for funds on the Hargreaves Lansdown Wealth Shortlist outperformed equivalent benchmarks over the same period of time. It is worth noting that the Wealth Shortlist has previously been known as the Wealth 150+ and Wealth 50 Shortlist, before being simplified in June 2020.

You can see a summary of the Wealth 150+ and Wealth 50 performance sector by sector in the table below (click to enlarge). This table shows how much £1,000 would have grown to if you'd used the Hargreaves Lansdown Wealth Shortlist (previously known as the Wealth150+ and Wealth 50) to pick funds from each sector.

While the figures across the various sectors can't be compared as the returns relate to different timeframes, the key takeaway is that the Hargreaves Lansdown best buy lists have historically outperformed in the sectors coloured green and underperformed in those that are coloured red.

Hargreaves Lansdown Wealth shortlist performance

Hargreaves Lansdown has responded to recent criticism of its promotion of a number of funds run by Neil Woodfood within its Fund Shortlist - which ultimately collapsed - by reviewing the methodology by which funds are now included in the newly named Wealth Shortlist.

In short, best-buy lists from fund platforms should not be exclusively relied upon when making your own fund choices. Fund platforms are best used as purely transactional and administrative entities and based upon that criteria Hargreaves Lansdown is still a market leader.

Hargreaves Lansdown customer reviews

Hargreaves Lansdown is rated as 'Excellent' on independent customer review site Trustpilot, with a total score of 4.3 out of 5.0 from just over 6,000 reviews. Many of the positive reviews mention great customer service and excellent tools and research features. Some of the negative reviews mention the cost and that they can buy cheaper products elsewhere. The following reviews are a sample from independent consumer sites such as Trustpilot and Which?

Hargreaves Lansdown ISA reviews

  • 'The service is simply first-class. I've found the staff knowledgeable, very competent and helpful. Hargreaves Lansdown is one of those companies that has never given me problems' 
  • ‘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'

Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP reviews

  • '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 fund and share account reviews

  • 'Excellent share trading platform'
  • 'Excellent website - so easy to set up an account
  • 'Helps me keep a close eye on my investments and trading is straightforward and simple to use'
  • 'The website is easy to use and very informative, with a lot of information to make choices about your investments'
  • 'Exceeds expectations with room to Improve'

Hargreaves Lansdown alternatives

For those that are considering an alternative investing platform, please see our cost tables below that compare the fees when investing in a Stocks and Shares ISA.

Hargreaves Lansdown alternatives if you want to invest in unit trusts

Cost per fund
transaction
£5,000 invested  £10,000 invested £20,000 invested £50,000 invested £100,000 invested
£250,000 invested
AJ Bell YouInvest* £1.50 £43 £55 £80 £155 £280 £655
Fidelity International* Free £45 £45 £70 £175 £350 £875
Hargreaves Lansdown* Free £23 £45 £90 £225 £450 £1,125
Interactive Investor* 1 free per month and then £7.99 £200 £200 £200 £200 £200 £200

The table above assumes 10 fund switches per year. Interactive Investor cost is based on the ‘Investor' service plan which is charged at £9.99 per month and includes one free trade per month.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs AJ Bell YouInvest

AJ Bell charges an annual platform fee of 0.25% up to £250,000, 0.10% for investments between £250,000 and £1m, 0.05% for investments between £1m and £2 and there is no charge for anything over £2m. Hargreaves Lansdown does not charge for fund switches whereas AJ Bell charges £1.50 for every fund transaction, meaning charges can quickly mount up if you are an active investor.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Fidelity International

Fidelity International has a high minimum initial investment of £1,000 compared to just £100 with Hargreaves Lansdown. However, both Hargreaves Lansdown and Fidelity International allow investors to set up a regular monthly investing from £25 per month. In terms of products, Fidelity International does not provide a Lifetime ISA in its product range, however, it does offer a Junior SIPP. Hargreaves Lansdown provides a better overall user experience with excellent tools and features and a well-designed app. Those that are new to investing may benefit from using Hargreaves Lansdown's demo account, something that Fidelity doesn't provide.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Interactive Investor

Hargreaves Lansdown and Interactive Investor have very different charging structures. Hargreaves Lansdown charges a platform fee which is taken as a percentage of the total amount you have invested with them. Interactive Investor uses a subscription model and charges a fixed fee each month. Interactive Investor charges £9.99 or £19.99 per month, depending on the plan you choose and the fees include a limited number of trades per month. Active investors with less than £50,000 to invest would be better off choosing Hargreaves Lansdown. Those interested in ethical investing may want to check out Interactive Investor's Ace 40, a list of ethical investment options sorted into asset groups, investment categories and ethical styles.

Hargreaves Lansdown alternatives if you want to invest in investment trusts or ETFs

Single Trade cost Regular Investing cost £5,000 £10,000 £20,000 £50,000 £100,000 £250,000
AJ Bell Youinvest* £9.95 £1.50 £212 £224 £229 £229 £229 £229
Hargreaves Lansdown* £11.95 £1.50 £262 £284 £284 £284 £284 £284
IG £8.00 £160 £160 £160 £160 £160 £160
X-O £5.95 £119 £119 £119 £119 £119 £119

The table above assumes 20 trades per year.

Hargreaves Lansdown alternatives if you want to invest only in shares

For those that simply want to trade shares via an app, read our article "Best trading apps for beginners in the UK" where we provide reviews and comparisons of 5 of the best trading apps including Freetrade, Trading 212 and eToro. While most trading apps provide 'commission-free' trading, there are other costs to consider including monthly ISA fees, currency conversion fees, inactivity fees and withdrawal fees.

Single Trade cost Minimum Investment Withdrawal Fee Inactivity Fee Currency Conversion Fee Offer
eToro £0.00 $10 $5 $10 per month after 1 year of inactivity 0.50% N/A
Freetrade £0.00 £1 N/A N/A 0.45% Free share worth up to £200
Hargreaves Lansdown* £5.95-£11.95 £1 N/A N/A 0.25%-1.00% N/A
Trading 212 £0.00 £1 N/A $10 per month after 3 months of inactivity 0.15%-0.50% N/A

Who is Hargreaves Landsdown good for?

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 sometimes possible to negotiate charge discounts on an individual basis. Regardless of the size of your portfolio you should read through its brief guide to possible charges* to make sure you are aware of what you might be charged for, as my analysis assumes you only invest in unit trust funds. As far as their Vantage Stocks & Shares ISA*  and the Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP* are concerned they remain the market leaders and the addition of the Active Savings service makes Hargreaves attractive to those looking to increase the return on their cash savings too.

A viable alternative to Hargreaves Lansdown is Interactive Investor, which is cheaper for those with large portfolios (as it charges a fixed platform fee regardless of the amount invested) and like Hargreaves Lansdown, does not charge exit fees. For more analysis read our full Interactive Investor review.

I have been asked to be on an independent judge on a panel for an industry award to decide the best investment platform for consumers. In all honesty, my vote went to the Hargreaves Lansdown investment platform for many of the reasons I have outlined above. But that view is from an administrative perspective and not an endorsement of Hargreaves Lansdown's fund research. Unfortunately, as the Woodford episode (mentioned above) highlights, investment platform best-buy lists should be used with caution, irrespective of the platform you choose.

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. If you decide to do so here is the quickest way to open an account*. One personal tip, if you are at all unsure then 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.

 

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