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Charles Stanley Direct is one of the oldest and most prominent finance firms to come out of London – what’s more, they offer a cracking stocks and shares ISA that seems good value for investors. If you mostly invest in funds or make a small number of trades, I believe you’ll find their account particularly appealing.
There’s a decent choice of investments available across a number of different assets. So you can use this stocks and shares ISA to create yourself a diverse portfolio that’s also good value to maintain. You’re able to invest using their website or app, and there are some useful insights and guidance for those just getting started.
Top feature of Charles Stanley Direct’s Stocks and Shares ISA
The free fund trading is really attractive for passive investors. Also, making at least one chargeable trade each month means that you can have your management fees waived whilst potentially diversifying your portfolio.
Offering ready-made multi-asset funds is really helpful for beginner investors. There are a number of different options based on whether you’re looking for growth or income and your risk tolerance. This means investors can choose to manage everything themselves or let experts do it for them, all on the same platform.
This is a flexible ISA, so you can withdraw money if you need and then replace it later in the tax year. The benefit of this is that any money you take out doesn’t count towards your yearly allowance, meaning you don’t get penalised or lose out on any allowance if you have to dip into your ISA.
The commission structure is dead simple. There’s a flat £11.50 charge for buying or selling stocks and shares. Fund trading is free so you can buy and sell funds without paying any commission.
Fees you should know about
The 0.35% platform fee applies to all holdings of stocks and shares, ETFs, commodities, investment trusts, and bonds. For unit trusts and OEICs, there is a tiered system:
- 0.35% per year on the first £250,000
- 0.20% between £250,000 – £500,000
- 0.15% between £500,000 – £1 million
- 0.05% between £1 million – £2 million
- 0% anything over £2 million
The maximum yearly platform fee is £240 and the minimum is £24 – unless you make one paid trade per month, in which case the fee is waived. There are telephone dealing charges that can be quite expensive depending on the type of investment and the value of your trade. So I’d say it’s better to invest online or through the app where possible.
There is a standard stamp duty reserve tax of 0.5% applied to UK share purchases and 1% for Irish shares.
The foreign exchange rate is calculated at the current market rate plus a FX charge of 1% for trades up to £9,999. Trades over £10,000 have an FX fee of 0.75%, which then drops even lower through tiers until the minimum 0.15% for trades over £1 million.
Buying shares, ETFs and funds
There’s a wide range of over 3,000 investment options available here, while Charles Stanley Direct’s stocks and shares ISA also has some purchasing perks to help suit different investors.
If you make just one share trade per month, your account fee is waived. For investors who just buy funds, there are no commission charges to worry about. Or if you’re a complete beginner, they offer managed portfolio options at a low cost.
Charles Stanley Direct has specific areas dedicated to socially responsible investments to try and make it easier to pick more ethical choices. Also, their Foundation Fundlist is a great way to find suitable funds based on the types of investments you’re looking for. So there really is a bit of something for everyone here.
If you’re ever unsure about the suitability of an investment for your own circumstances, please seek independent financial advice
Charles Stanley Direct’s platform
Once geared to more experienced investors, it looks like Charles Stanley Direct has taken meaningful steps to become more appealing to all levels. The app in particular has been developed to make investing more straightforward. If you prefer a cleaner investing experience that is easy on the eye, their app trumps the website.
Some new investors may find too much jargon, while expert investors may not find all the information and tools they need. Charles Stanley Direct is attempting to make all their services more appealing to people just getting started – but users might find they’re currently stuck somewhere in between. Potentially not quite straightforward enough for complete newbies and not quite up to scratch for experienced investors. However, the platform is good enough to suit the majority of people.
Charles Stanley Direct’s research offerings
The website offers some useful markets insights and investing news along with some great market snapshots. These market overviews show you the daily performance of indices like the FTSE 100 along with the top ten risers and fallers within the index.
Charles Stanley Direct has a new area within their website dedicated to beginner investors. So, if you want to understand some basic concepts before diving in, they now hold your hand through the process.
If you’re experienced and want more detailed research for your investments, it does lack some tools and materials compared to some peers.
Service and support
Many users of Charles Stanley Direct have been extremely complimentary and happy about the customer service received from their support team based in Edinburgh.
You can contact their help-desk through live chat, email, or secure message. They also have a team on-hand to answer your calls anytime from 7.30am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday.
Is a Charles Stanley Direct Stocks and Shares ISA right for you?
If you’re someone who likes to invest mostly in funds with occasional individual share purchases, this could be a great option. There are no fees for trading funds and just one share trade gets your platform fee waived.
However, if you are likely to make lots of individual stocks and shares purchases, the flat £11.50 commission fees could add up and there’s no discount for active traders. For experienced investors, the choice of investments and research tools available are better with other platforms.
The option to have a completely managed portfolio for a very competitive price means that this could be a useful alternative to robo-advisors and investing solutions providers. Even though Charles Stanley Direct is thought of as a more traditional investing option, their overall service seems to favour semi-active investors towards the newer end of the spectrum.