Hargreaves Lansdown fund platform review
Hargreaves Lansdown is the largest UK fund platform managing around £105bn for over 1.2 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? You can use the links below to jump to key points in this Hargreaves review, however, I suggest that you read it all the way through. In addition, at the end of the article I also point out some of the negatives of the Hargreaves Lansdown ISA and SIPP.
- What can you invest in using Hargreaves Lansdown?
- Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage stocks & shares ISA review
- Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP review
- Hargreaves Lansdown share dealing review
- Hargreaves Lansdown Active Savings review
- Free tools and investment advice offered by Hargreaves Lansdown
- Hargreaves Lansdown – Should you use them?
What services and products are offered by Hargreaves Lansdown?
The following is a list of the core products offered on the Hargreaves Lansdown platform:
ISAs and investment products
Hargreaves Lansdown Stocks and Shares ISA
The Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage Stocks & Shares ISA* offers an easy to manage, tax-efficient way of accessing a range of investment assets and 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 Stock & 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 (LISA)
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 Stocks and Shares ISA.
Hargreaves investment trusts
Investment trusts are funds that are publicly listed as companies on the London Stock Exchange and are traded like shares. Probably more suitable to an experienced investor, investment trusts can provide access to alternative asset classes within a balanced portfolio. These can be bought within the Hargreaves ISAs as well as the Vantage SIPP, a benefit that is not offered by many other investment platforms.
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 and provides a low-cost flexible investment account to deal, manage and hold a wide range of investments.
Hargreaves Lansdown wealth management
Hargreaves Lansdown's recently revamped 'Wealth shortlist' provides a starting point for most investors if they want to choose their own funds. Hargreaves does run a number of managed funds but for those wanting a more bespoke service Hargreaves Lansdown offers its Professional Portfolio Management service where a financial adviser will build and manage a portfolio in order to achieve your goals.
Hargreaves Lansdown pension products
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.
Despite the new era of pension freedom annuities can still play a significant role in retirement planning. Hargreaves Lansdown is one of the few places where you can still compare annuities (including impaired life and enhanced annuities) and get a free annuity quote, which is worth doing even if you don't end up using Hargreaves Lansdown to buy the annuity.
Pension Drawdown is a key part of retirement planning allowing investors to control their income taken from their pension allowing for greater control over investment returns and taxation. To read more about pension drawdown, check out our article 'What is pension drawdown and how does it work?'
Hargreaves Lansdown savings products
Hargreaves Lansdown Active Savings
Hargreaves Lansdown Active Savings was launched in the summer of 2018. It is a cash service which helps consumers get a better rate on their savings. Hargreaves Lansdown is the only investment platform to offer such a service. Usually, consumers have to shop around themselves to find the best savings rates and then move their money from savings account to savings account in order to maximise the amount of interest they earn. It is a laborious process often requiring lots of paperwork and application processes. Active Savings stops this by giving customers access to a wide range of best-buy fixed-term savings products via one application. 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. In time Hargreaves Lansdown plans to provide access to cash ISAs and instant access savings products through the Active Savings service.
What can you invest in using Hargreaves Lansdown?
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 3,500 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. 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.
- Over 3,500 funds
- Shares listed on the UK, Canadian and European stock exchanges
- Corporate and Government bonds
- Investment trusts
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.
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 an ISA, SIPP or a general investment account.
The Hargreaves Lansdown website is clear and easy to use with access to a variety of excellent investment guides. The website was revamped in February 2018 to give the service a much fresher and cleaner design which renders well on both mobile and desktop devices. Once you log in to the site the system will feel familiar to existing customers as the redesign stopped short of introducing wholesale changes to trading and portfolio management sections which always had a minimalist design anyway. The fact that the website relaunch was executed with few issues is a testament to Hargreaves' general approach to its digital services. Fidelity, on the other hand, relaunched their website at the start of 2018 and customers endured months of technical issues which led to some disgruntled customers leaving the company altogether and switching to the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown.
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.
Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage stocks & shares ISA review
Hargreaves Lansdown stocks & shares ISA can be started with as little as £100 or a monthly direct debit of £25, and you can top up your ISA at any time with your debit card. You can choose from 6 ready-made portfolios or manage your investments yourself.
The Hargreaves Lansdown ISA remains the most popular ISA in the UK for good reason as it has won numerous ‘Best Stocks and Shares ISA provider’ awards. While it is not the cheapest fund platform it still presents good value for money given the amount of research and tools customers have access to. On top of that it has an incredibly easy to use app and trading through it (or via the website) is far easier than most other platforms. Furthermore, its customer service record is excellent.
Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage ISA fees
The annual fee charged by Hargreaves Lansdown is 0.45% for the first £250,000 invested, 0.25% for investments between £250,000 and £1 million with 0.1% charge for investment in excess of £1 million. There is no annual charge for investments in excess of £2 million.
Hargreaves Lansdown ISA – Annual fees for portfolios ranging from £5,000 to £250,000
|Cost per fund
However, the exact cost of your portfolio will depend on the types of underlying investments you invest in as these charges are additional to the annual charge quoted above. Make sure you take a quick look at Hargreaves Lansdown's charges and interest rates list for details of all charges. In the summary section of this article I draw a comparison of Hargreaves' charges versus its competitors.
Hargreaves Lansdown ISA Reviews – 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’
Hargreaves Lansdown Vantage SIPP review
More than 290,000 customers have already chosen the Vantage SIPP and ‘What Investment' readers have voted Hargreaves Lansdown the Best SIPP Provider 10 years in a row. Just like its ISA product you can choose from a wide range of investments including stocks & shares, ETFs, investment trusts and over 2,500 funds. It is easy to transfer old pensions into the Vantage SIPP in order to keep retirement savings and options under one roof.
Customers can manage their SIPP either online, by phone, post or using the award-winning Hargreaves Lansdown app.
Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP fees
The annual charge levied by Hargreaves Lansdown is 0.45% for the first £250,000 invested, 0.25% for investments between £250,000 and £1 million with 0.1% charge for investment in excess of £1 million. Again, there is no annual management charge is made for investments in excess of £2 million.
Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP – Annual fees for pension pots ranging from £5,000 to £1,000,000
|Cost per fund
There are no charges to set up a Hargreaves SIPP or to consolidate and transfer old pensions into your new SIPP. In addition to the above charges, you will also have to pay the charges applied by the underlying investments, just like when investing via any other platform. A full list of Hargreaves Lansdown's charges and interest rates can be found here.
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'.
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 into a pensionDownload your FREE guide
Hargreaves Lansdown fund and share account review
The fund and share account is Hargreaves Lansdown's version of a general investment account, allowing you to invest in over 2,500 funds, as well as UK and overseas shares, corporate and government bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETF's) and investment trusts. You can get started simply and quickly online from as little as £1, although if you intend to invest in funds, you'll need to invest a minimum lump sum of £100 or start a direct debit for £25 per month.
Customers also have access to free live share prices, stop loss alerts and interactive charts together with expert research and analysis.
Hargreaves Lansdown share dealing service fees
Online share dealing charges start at £5.95 per deal if there are 20 or more share deals in the previous calendar month. £8.95 per deal if there are 10-19 deals and £11.95 for less than 10 deals. Phone and post dealing charges are 1% of the value of trade.
See Hargreaves Lansdown share dealing charges for details of all charges
Hargreaves Lansdown fund and share account reviews
The following reviews are a sample from independent consumer sites:
- ‘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 Active Savings review
Hargreaves Lansdown Active Savings aims to make maximising the interest you earn on your savings easier. Once you open an Active Savings account you then can choose from a range of fixed-term savings products (with terms ranging from 3 months to 3 years) from Arbuthnot Latham, Charter Savings Bank, Close Brothers Savings, Coventry Building Society, Investec, Metro, Paragon and United Trust Bank. In time this list will no doubt grow.
The power of an Active Savings accounts come from the ability to move your money between best buy deals at a click of a button. The downside is that the service doesn't cover the whole of the savings market. If you want to compare the rates offered by Hargreaves Lansdown Active Savings with the rest of the market you should use our best-buy savings table. Overall the Active Savings service is a big plus point for Hargreaves Lansdown which will hopefully improve further once it can be used within an ISA or pension and as the range of savings accounts increases.
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 from their investments. The following is a selection of the best on offer and can even be used by non-clients:
- Pension calculator – one of my personal favourites where you can find out how much your pension may be worth when you retire
- ISA calculator – find out what your ISA could be worth in the future
- Guide to SIPPS – straightforward easy to read guide on SIPPs
- Investor's guide to ISA's – find out how to save time, tax and money with an ISA
Hargreaves Lansdown Wealth shortlist performance
In January 2019 Hargreaves Lansdown launched the ‘Wealth 50' shortlist which is a selection of funds it believed had the best potential within their respective sectors. The Wealth 50 replaced its previous best buy list called the ‘Wealth 150+', which as the name suggests was much larger. In June 2020, the best buy list underwent another revamp, evolving into the simply named ‘Wealth Shortlist'.
The previous Wealth 50 shortlist had attracted plenty of negative headlines, particularly surrounding the inclusion of Neil Woodford’s funds despite poor performance and it led people to demand more transparency.
Emma Wall, Head of Investment Analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown said ‘…we have conducted extensive research and testing with our clients and listened to what they need and what is important to them, including reviewing our investment process and how we communicated with clients. The result is an evolution of the Wealth 50 to the Wealth Shortlist'
It is clear that the list is less focussed on discounted fees and more centred around performance potential, with the analysis scrutinising individual managers, their processes and even the culture of the associated management companies.
Emma Wall went on to say ‘We have improved our transparency of research and process, the information, tools and support we provide clients, and the governance and risk controls of our processes and removed the fund price as a factor for fund selection'.
It is worth remembering what led Hargreaves Lansdown to make such significant changes to its best buy list strategy.
Back in June 2019, Neil Woodford was forced to suspend trading in the Woodford Equity Income fund after a combination of 23 consecutive months net outflows and rising illiquidity in the fund. With trading in the fund suspended, around £3.5billion of client money was trapped in the fund until it could improve liquidity and reopen. Hargreaves Lansdown promoted Woodford’s fund right up to its closure, as well as including it as a holding in its own in-house multi-manager range. Hargreaves Lansdown disclosed that a total of 291,520 clients with £1.6 billion pounds were impacted by the closure.
Hargreaves Lansdown came under intense criticism in the media as a result. Of course, every other investment platform had customers trapped within the Woodford fund but the difference is that they either never promoted Woodford’s fund or stopped doing so before trading was suspended
Hargreaves Lansdown has previously been at pains to point out the performance of funds on its best-buy lists. The table below shows how a broad measure of the average return for funds on the HL 150+ and HL 50 lists outperformed equivalent benchmarks over the same period of time.
Whilst overall performance of the HL lists appears to be acceptable individual sector performance has in some instances been disappointing. 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 W150/W50 lists 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.
Overall, it is encouraging to see that Hargreaves Lansdown has responded to criticism and implemented changes that should provide more transparency as well as providing a fund best-buy list that is less focussed on fund discounts. I do however find the absence of highly regarded managers Terry Smith and Nick Train somewhat surprising, given that fund discounts are no longer a driving factor.
It remains to be said that the Woodford episode highlights that all 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 is still a market leader.
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 its 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 and the addition of the Active Savings service makes Hargreaves attractive to those looking to increase the return on their cash savings too.
When I reviewed Hargreaves Lansdown in June 2019, I noted that one major negative is that they charged a fee in order to move investments to another platform. I also noted that it was certain to change due to consumer pressure and I'm pleased to report that in September 2019, Hargreaves Lansdown scrapped their controversial exit fees. Investors are now free to move their money to another platform without charge. Read our article ‘Hargreaves scraps controversial exit fees‘ for more information.
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.
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.
If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. But as you can clearly see this has in no way influenced this independent and balanced review of the product. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses – Hargreaves Lansdown