By: Kate Anderson | Updated: 23rd February 2021.
Barclays Smart Investor makes it easy to take your first step into share dealing. For those who are beginners, or short on time, it has five ready-made investment portfolios created and monitored by experts. Customers can also easily transfer existing investments over, without affecting their tax-efficient status. The platform sells itself on having transparent customer fees, capped at £125 a month. Added to that stock alerts for real-time changes in price, and you have a product which is there to hold your hand from the start of your investment journey.
New to investing? Then the Barclays’ Smart Investor account gives you the chance to dip your toe in the water and learn the ropes. It offers novice investors the choice of five ready-made investment portfolios. If you are no expert, this can be a huge help. You can select a portfolio based on which suits you best. Then all you need to do is fund the account. And Barclays’ team of experts will do the hard work to make sure the fund performs in-line with its characteristics.
However, if you do want to be more involved and create your own portfolio, the Smart Investor’s Research Centre has everything you would need. You can make use of Barclays Funds List, which helps to narrow down the wide range of options available. Here you will find funds that have solid reputations. They are selected based on their potential to generate consistent returns in the medium to long-term.
Meanwhile, the Research Centre enables you to stay up-to-date with your investments. Stock alerts mean that you won’t miss a trick. Real-time price changes and an advanced search function, in a clean and easy-to-use format, allows you to drill down to the important information to make an informed choice.
Finally, one big advantage of the Barclays Smart Investor account is that it allows you to transfer existing investments in. So if you already have a portfolio but fancy a change, you can make the switch without impacting your investments’ tax-efficient status. The whole process can be completed in four simple steps, smoothing the way to the next stage of your investment journey.
Barclays claims to use a simple pricing structure. However, fees depend on what you invest in, how often you invest, and the value of your investment. So there is no ‘one size fits all’ cost. Which can make it seem confusing. But with a cap on the maximum fee you can pay each month, Barclays tries its best.
First things first, there is no account set up fee. Instead, what you can expect to pay is a customer fee for ‘maintaining your service’. This is calculated daily and is based on the end of day value of your investments across all your accounts.
For funds it breaks down to 0.2% p.a. and for other investments its 0.1% p.a. The minimum fee per month is £4, but this will only apply once you add cash or investment to your account. And remember, there is that useful cap on fees, which means you won’t pay more than £125 a month.
Trading costs appear competitive. You can expect to pay £3 per transaction for funds, £6 for other investments and £1 on all automated regular investments. All telephone transactions will be £25.
And if you are planning on investing more frequently, regular investments will drop to only £1 per transaction.
The advantage of Barclays simple pricing structure is that there are no hidden fees.
It is worth clarifying that the £3 fee for funds and £6 for other investments applies to online transactions only. Barclays charges a £25 commission for share-dealing over the phone.
And remember that stamp duty comes in at 0.5% on top of the dealing fee, but this is common across similar platforms. With the Smart Investor you have a choice between an Investment ISA, Investment Account and SIPP Account. If you choose to take out an Investment ISA account, then any returns you make are tax-free.
Meanwhile, if you choose to take out a Barclays SIPP, you will need to pay an AJ Bell Administration fee of £31.25 plus VAT per quarter. Expect to also pay £75 per transfer in and out.
Finally, if you choose to close your account in the future, then any administration fees that you have outstanding will be charged on a pro-rata basis, up to the date that Barclays process your closing instructions.
The site lets you invest in hundreds of listed companies on the London Stock Exchange, as well as international markets including North America, Japan, China, Asia Pacific, Europe and emerging markets.
If you are just starting out and not sure which funds to gravitate towards, Barclays has handpicked 34 funds for its Funds List which have proven to have solid reputations. These funds are mostly focused on a single country, sector or type of asset. But they have been chosen because they have the potential to generate consistent returns over a period of five years or more.
With a regular customer maintenance fee attached to its service, the Barclays Smart Investor platform does not lend itself to investors who wish to sit on the sidelines. Instead, you will most likely want to drip feed your savings into the market, keeping your investment portfolio ticking over while you pay your monthly fee.
The existence of the platform’s Funds List and five ready-made investment portfolios are vital for those just getting started with investing. The simple pricing structure also lets novices invest with confidence, knowing they won’t be hit with any unexpected hidden fees.
Barclays Smart Investors’s comprehensive Research Centre allows you to search for stocks, structured products, ETFs and many more. With an advanced search option, you can drill down to the information you really need about the investments you are interested in.
You can also opt-in to Stock Alerts, which will keep you up-to-date with the latest market developments. And if you feel like just having a browse, then the Research Centre has lists of the highest rising and lowest falling funds in varying sectors, as well as other fund tools like sector performance tables.
Barclays has an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions, all of which redirect you to the relevant page for your query. It also has a library of ‘How to’ videos, which walk you through takes such as ‘how to manage your investment settings’ and ‘how to use our research centre’. Really useful if you are a novice investor.
If you can’t find the answer to your question in the FAQs or in the video guides, then you can chat or email the team through the website or call them between 7.30am and 7pm Monday to Thursday, and 7.30am to 6pm on Friday.
This is a good account for a novice investor. It’s simple pricing structure, ready-made investment portfolios and curated fund list are useful tools for someone new to the world of investment.
Its monthly fee structure does potentially encourage users to trade in order to get ‘value’ from it. But its cost calculator and cap on the maximum fees you can spend each month mean that you can be confident in knowing that costs won’t get out of control.
’How to’ guides and stock alert options all combine to make a package which is designed to help someone take that first step on their investment journey.
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