Our bottom line
If you’re looking to hold ordinary, well-known shares, iWeb should do the job. And it’ll probably work out cheaper than most other places. However, limited access to foreign markets will frustrate adventurous investors. Also, the basic platform might leave sophisticated traders wanting.
Top feature of iWeb’s account
iWeb is amongst the cheapest brokerages we’ve reviewed. The costs are simple and transparent. As a basic trading platform, this does a no-nonsense job with no hidden fees.
iWeb’s commission prices
iWeb charges £5 per trade for UK shares. Since most other brokerages charge around £10, this is a very good deal. Foreign shares have an additional conversion fee – charged at 1.5% of the exchange rate. A breakdown of how it works is available here. Dividend reinvestments are charged at 2% of your dividend’s total value. However, this fee is capped at £5.
Fees you should know about
Opening an iWeb account involves a one-time £100 fee. This is your main fee to consider, but it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker in my opinion.
Afterwards, there are no platform fees and no penalties for inactivity. This makes it excellent for buy-and-hold investors. Once your account is launched, you can set it aside and forget about it. You don’t have to worry about ongoing fees eating your cash balance.
You also save money while using iWeb. Dealing charges are roughly half what you’d expect to pay elsewhere. These savings alone should recover your £100 startup fee within 10-20 trades.
Buying shares, ETFs and funds with an iWeb account
Buying shares on iWeb is easy. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, its search tool reveals companies based on their index and sector. For example, I can search ‘FTSE-100’ and ‘Media.’ iWeb pulls up four options – Informa, Pearson, Relx and WPP. Click one of the options. You’re presented with the company’s key financial data plus relevant news items.
Another small touch I appreciated is the ‘Eligibility’ section. This tells you which accounts – Share Dealing, ISA or SIPP – can hold the company’s shares. It’s a handy time-saver. As you might know, there’s nothing worse than studying a stock in-depth, only to discover it’s unavailable in your account.
If you’re not ready to buy shares, set up an email alert. This sends you an instant message when the stock trades at a certain price or volume.
iWeb’s platform is as basic as you can get. No slick mobile app. No gorgeous design or customizable dashboard. This is a dead simple, no-frills experience. And you know what? Maybe that’s refreshing for some investors. It’s charming in its own way.
Certainly, iWeb is the least intimidating platform for beginners. It navigates just like an ordinary website. Only a few bugbears stood out for me.
First, the search filters are a bit naff. You can only find companies based on their sector and stock exchange. And they don’t seem to be organised properly. When I searched ‘Automobiles’ in ‘All Markets,’ the only car manufacturer to appear was Aston Martin. “Where’s VW?!” I wondered. Turns out, VW was in the ‘Consumer Cyclical’ section. This isn’t a harrowing fault, but there should be some consistency. You want to be sure you’re seeing all of your available options on each search.
Finally, it’s difficult to compare your shortlist. For detailed information on each stock, you must click onto a new page. Click backwards and you’re met with a “Confirm Form Resubmission” page. You have to refresh the whole search over. Again, this isn’t a huge deal. It’s just a tad annoying when you’re moving back and forth.
iWeb’s research offerings
For beginner investors – and even some intermediates – iWeb’s research tools are admirable. Its ‘Markets and Insights’ page is constantly updated with economic news. This information is streamed from Web Financial Group and Morningstar.
Click a specific stock. All of its financial and dividend information is available at a glance. There’s also a ‘news’ section, updated with the most recent relevant stories. You can even access an ‘Advanced chart’. This includes all of the usual technical analysis tools for studying chart patterns.
Sadly, these advanced charts aren’t available for currencies and commodities. Personally, this is where I find technical analysis most useful. When looking at gold or oil, for example, you can only see a simple price chart. Advanced traders may have to look elsewhere.
Do be mindful that any investment information and expert opinion provided on iWeb’s website is not personal advice and is designed for investors who are happy making their own investment decisions. If you’re unsure about the suitability of an investment for your circumstances, you’ll want to seek out your own independent financial advice.
Things to watch out for
According to its website, iWeb lets you access “7 World Markets.” This is technically true. But it disguises what is, arguably, iWeb’s biggest weakness.
You see, its ‘7 markets’ are London, New York, Brussels, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan and Amsterdam. Of course, most of these markets are fairly small (it’s doubtful you have a long shopping list of Belgian shares you’re itching to buy).
Second, most are on the same currency, under the same political umbrella. Paris…Milan…Brussels…Who cares? It’s all Europe! What about Asia? What about the big commodity economies, like Canada and Australia? There’s not enough to excite foreign investors, in my opinion.
Service and support
iWeb’s telephone and live chat helpline is open 8am-9pm, Monday to Friday. It’s UK based. There’s also a text phone service for those with speech and hearing difficulties (open 8am-5pm, 5 days a week).
On Trustpilot, iWeb scores 2.5/5, which isn’t fantastic. However, many of the negative comments are about the platform’s basic features. Others complain that transferring an existing ISA is a long, drawn-out hassle.
Is an iWeb account right for you?
iWeb reminds me of a flight with easyJet or Ryanair. It’s cheap and ugly, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. You use it because it’s cheap. You put up with mild irritations – like the £100 opening fee – because it still ends up being a better deal.
Personally, I would consider this account for some of my savings, but wouldn’t go all-in. Instead, I’d use it alongside another more advanced platform. That way, you enjoy iWeb’s low-fees without getting upset over its shortcomings. Same as any low-cost airline, you mustn’t get angry with iWeb. Just accept it for what it is.
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The Motley Fool has recommended Lloyds Banking Group shares.