If you’re based in the UK and wish to make investments from the comfort of your home, you’ll be pleased to know that there are heaps of FCA regulated brokers at your fingertips. With that said, find the best investment platform for you can be tricky.
Whether its commissions, shares dealing charges, payment methods, or tradable assets, there are lots of factors to consider when comparing different online investment platforms.
To help you out, this article reviews the best UK investment platforms of 2020, making it easy for you to compare the top brokers. We also give you some tips on how to find a broker yourself, alongside a handy step-by-step guide on how you can get started at a top investment platform today.
Investment Platforms Explained
Before you can buy and sell financial instruments online, you will need to find a suitable investment platform. There are a number of different types of platforms out there from stockbrokers to cryptocurrency exchanges, so you need to find the platform that’s best suited to the financial instruments you’re interested in.
For example, if you’re looking to invest in publicly-listed companies or ETFs, you will need to use an online stockbroker. If you want to invest in more sophisticated assets like gold or oil, then you will need to use a CFD broker. Alternatively, if you want to trade currencies like GBP, USD, and EUR, you’ll need a forex broker.
The good news is that the best investment platforms in the market often give you access to multiple asset types. For example, a platform like eToro allows you to invest in traditional stocks and shares, ETFs, commodities like gold, oil, and gas, forex and cryptocurrencies. It also allows users to either buy underlying assets or trade CFDs.
Once you have found an investment platform that hosts your preferred instrument, you then need to asses other key metrics like fees, regulation, payment methods, educational material and usability, among other factors.
Some of the best UK investment platforms allow you to trade on a commission-free basis, so it’s only the spread that you need to pay, while others have more charges. Some platforms also give you the option of investing via the desktop website or through a dedicated mobile trading app. Ultimately, UK investment platforms come in a range of shapes and sizes, so you need to spend some time thinking about what it is you are looking for.
Our Recommended UK Investment Platform
If you don’t have time to read through our guide in full and instead want to start investing right now, we would suggest using our top-rated investment platform: eToro. This FCA regulated broker gives you access to thousands of assets, including stocks and shares, forex, ETFs, commodities, and cryptocurrencies. Fees are super-low, PayPal is accepted, and you can benefit from eToro’s innovative social trading tools, such as CopyTrader.
eToro: Best UK Stock Broker for 2020
- Choose from over 800 stocks, 0% commission
- Buy stocks outright or trade stock CFDs
- FCA, CySEC and ASIC regulated
Best UK Investment Platforms of 2020
We’ve reviewed many UK investment platforms to create the following list of the five best investment platforms for 2020. Each of the following platforms is regulated, offers access to a variety of asset classes, and provides a smooth user experience.
1. eToro - Best Overall UK Investment Platform
eToro is a hugely popular investment platform for newbie traders, with more than 12 million users now active at the site. You will have access to every asset class imaginable, subsequently allowing you to build a diversified portfolio with ease. For example, the broker lists more than 800 stocks and 140 ETFs, as well as 16 cryptocurrencies.
All of these assets can be traded without paying a single pence in commission - as long as you don't apply leverage or short-sell. eToro also hosts thousands of CFDs, meaning that you can buy and sell commodities, interest rates, bonds, and indices. As a user-friendly UK investment platform, eToro makes the sign-up process a seamless one. Simply open an account by providing some personal information, upload a copy of your ID, and deposit some funds.
eToro is particularly famous as a social trading investment platform which has innovative features like the CopyTrader tool. This allows you to copy the portfolio of other traders in the click of a button, and you can filter traders to find ones that trade your preferred assets.
You can fund your account with a UK debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank account, and minimum deposits start at $200 (£160). Although the platform denominates everything in US dollars, this ensures that you have direct access to international markets. eToro is licensed by the FCA, CySEC and ASIC, so it's one of the safest investment platforms around.
Assets: Cryptocurrencies, Stocks, CFD, Forex, ETFs, Commodities
Demo Account: Yes
Educational Material: Great educational material for both beginners and advanced traders
Fees: $5 Withdrawal Fee, $5 Inactivity Fee, No Account Fee, No Deposit Fee
Minimum deposit: $200 (£160)
Special Features: Copy trading and social trading site
Regulation: CySEC, FCA, ASIC
Payment methods: Credit/debit card, Paypal, Sofort, Rapid transfer, Skrill, Wire transfer, Neteller, WebMoney, UnionPay
- Social trading leader
- Best mobile trading site
- Paypal accepted
- Limited technical analysis tools
- Not well-suited for the more advanced investor
2. IG - Share Dealing, CFDs, and Spread Betting
IG is a Jack of All trades in the UK investment space, with the broker covering CFDs, share dealing, and spread betting facilities. This includes more than 12,000 individual stocks that can be bought from just £3 per order. The spread betting facility at IG allows you to make profits without being liable for UK tax. You can also apply leverage within the limits of ESMA.
One of the stand-out selling points of IG is its trading fees. For example, you can trade major forex pairs at a spread of just 0.7 pips without paying any extra commissions on this low-cost investment platform. IG also gives you access to the MT4 trading platform, which is great if you like to use technical indicators and advanced chart reading tools.
You will need to meet a £250 minimum deposit amount in order to get started at this online investment platform. If you want to trade on your mobile, you can download the IG app for free on iOS and Android devices.
Demo Account: Yes
Educational Material: First-grade research department, fundamental news, technical analysis brokerage analysis
Fees: 0.6 pips on EUR/USD and AUD/USD, no commissions on FX trading, deposit fee of 1% (Visa) and 0.5% (MasterCard)
Minimum deposit: $300 (£250)
Special Features: Minute-by-minute analysis, technical research, spread betting
Regulation: MAS, FCA, BaFin, ASIC
Payment methods: Credit/debit card, Bank wire
- Spreads from just 0.6 pips
- Overseen by top-tier regulators
- Instant account activation for Singapore citizens
- 1% deposit fee on Visa cards
- MT5 not supported
- MT5 not supported
3. Plus500 - Trade Thousands of Assets Commission-Free
If you're more interested in an investment account that is suited for short-term trading, we would suggest checking out Plus500. The UK-based broker specializes exclusively in CFDs, so you'll have access to a number of more sophisticated trading tools. This includes the ability to short-sell stocks, ETFs, and indices, as well as apply leverage.
If you do have a higher appetite for risk, Plus500 offers leverage of up to 30:1 on major forex pairs and 20:1 on minor/exotic pairs and gold. Other CFD products include oil, gas, cryptocurrencies, and even interest rates.
What we really like about Plus500 is that you can trade without paying any commissions. Instead, this broker only makes money through the spread, and the spreads at Plus500 are among the tightest on the market.
In order to get started at Plus500 you will need to deposit just £100, which you can do this via a debit/credit card, Paypal, or a UK bank account. The broker is also heavily regulated, with licenses from the FCA, ASIC, CySEC, and MAS.
Demo Account: Yes
Educational Material: No
Fees: £10 Inactivity Fee, 0 withdrawal fees
Minimum deposit: £100
Special Features: 2,000 trading instruments
Regulation: CySEC, FCA, ASIC, MAS
Payment methods: Credit/debit card, Paypal, Bank transfer
- Minimum deposit of £100
- Over 2,000 trading instruments
- Mobile app available
- No education material
- Not suitable for beginners
4. Wealth Simple - Customer Investment Portfolios
If you're looking to invest in the financial markets but you really don't know where to start, it might be worth trying Wealth Simple. Through the use of an underlying algorithm, this investment platform creates a custom portfolio for you.
This can include anything from UK government bonds, corporate bonds, UK and US stocks, and ETFs. Crucially, your portfolio will be based on your desired risk vs reward ratio, so it'll be tailored to suit you.
For example, if you're looking to take a conservative approach, most of your basket will contain government bonds. At the end of the spectrum, an aggressive portfolio might consist of ETFs that track the emerging markets. Unlike the other investment platforms that we have discussed, Wealth Simple actually charges an annual management fee. This stands at either 0.5% or 0.7%, depending on how much you decide to invest.
Assets: Customized portfolios of stocks and ETFs.
Demo Account: No
Educational Material: Yes
Fees: 0.5%-0.7% annual management fee, 0.18% fund fee
Minimum deposit: No account minimum
Payment methods: Bank transfer, Direct Debit
- No minimum deposit
- Cusmotized portfolios based on your risk level
- Set up a direct debit for regular investments
- No debit/credit cards
- No suitable for DIY traders
5. AvaTrade - Multi-Purpose Broker With Mirror Trading
If you're looking for an all-in CFD and forex broker that tailors its services to both newbie and seasoned traders, look no further than AvaTrade. The platform offers full support for both MT4 and MT5, which you can access via the main desktop site or mobile app. Asset classes include stocks, indices, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, and currencies - all in the form of CFDs.
Leverage and short-selling is also available on all of the financial instruments hosted at the site. What we really like at AvaTrade is its mirror trading feature. Much like the copy trading option at eToro, this allows you to copy the portfolio of experienced investors. You can choose to fully-automate the trading process, or go for a semi-automatic option where you have more control over what specific trades are copied.
You will need to meet a $100 (£80) minimum deposit at AVATrade, which you can do with a debit/credit card or bank transfer. There's also a wealth of educational material and financial insights available to help you build up your knowledge.
Assets: Forex, thousands of CFDs, cryptocurrencies
Demo Account: Yes
Educational Material: No fundamental news or trading ideas, but trading calculator provided
Fees: 0.9 pips on most major pairs, no withdrawal fee, monthly inactivity fee
Minimum deposit: $100 (£80)
Special Features: Pricing alerts and notifications
Regulation: Licenses in Ireland, Japan, South Africa, British Virgin Islands
Payment methods: Credit/debit card, Bank wire
- Spreads from just 0.9 pips
- Multiple licenses
- Both MT4 and MT5 supported
- High inactivity fees
How to Choose a UK Investment Platform
If you’d like to do some further research into the best UK investment platforms, there are some key considerations to keep in mind. We recommend assessing the following factors when you compare investment platforms.
Regardless of what the broker charges in fees and commissions, you must never join a platform unless it is regulated by a tier-one licensing body. In the vast majority of cases, this will be the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This will offer you a range of safeguards, such as the platform using data encryption technology and keeping your funds in segregated accounts.
- Tradable Assets
You also need to decide what assets you wish to gain exposure to. For example, if you’re looking to trade a wide range of financial instruments, eToro offers everything from stocks and forex to ETFs and crypto, and there’s the option to buy underlying assets as well as trade CFDs.
Ideally, you want to find a UK investment platform that supports you preferred payment method. While all brokers accept debit and credit cards, not every platform accepts e-wallet options such as PayPal.
- Manual or Automated
If you don’t have any experience in investing, you may want to go for platforms like eToro and AVATrade that allow you to copy the trades of expert investors. Alternatively, the likes of Wealth Simple offer automated portfolios that mirror that your risk levels.
- Fees and Commissions
There are a number of fees that you need to be made aware of before investing. This starts at the very offset with the deposit process, as some brokers charge transaction fees. Then, you need to assess what trading fees you will need to pay, as this will vary considerably at different online investment platforms.
For example, while low-cost investment platforms like eToro allow you to buy shares without paying any commission, IG charges a minimum of £3 per trade. Other platforms like Wealth Simple charge an annual maintenance fee as opposed to a trading commission. Also compare the spreads at different brokers to ensure you sign up to the most competitive platform.
- Trading Tools and Research
It’s best to stick with UK investment platforms that offer research tools and educational materials. Regarding the former, this should cover both the technicals and the fundamentals. If you’re a newbie, it’s always handy when the platform offers beginner guides on investment principals and processes.
- Customer Support
You should also assess what the customer service department is like. After all, if you’re just starting out in the world of investments there might come a time where you need assistance. The easiest way to make contact is via live chat, although some of you might prefer a dedicated telephone support service. In terms of opening hours, most brokers operate on a 24/5 basis, meaning that they are closed at weekends.
How to Get Started With a UK Investment Platform
Ready to open a UK investment account today, but need a bit of assistance? Below you will find a step-by-step guide that outlines the end-to-end investment process with our pick for the best UK investment platform for 2020, eToro.
Step 1: Open Account an eToro Account
You will first need to visit the eToro website and open an account. As is standard practice in the UK brokerage space, you’ll need to provide some personal details.
- Full Name
- Home Address
- Date of Birth
- Contact Details
You’ll also need to answer a couple of basic questions about your historical trading experience. Don’t worry – this is just to gauge what financial products the broker should make available to you.
Step 2: KYC Verification
You will need to complete a quick KYC (Know Your Customer) verification process before getting started at eToro. This is to ensure the platform remains compliant with the FCA.
All you need to do is upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license, alongside a proof of address. This can be a utility bill or bank account statement dated within the past 3 months.
Step 3: Deposit Funds
Once you have uploaded your ID and proof of address, you can then deposit some funds. Support payment methods include a debit/credit card, UK bank account, or e-wallet.
Step 4: Browse Investments
Once you are all set up at eToro you can then start browsing the many asset classes hosted at the platform. You can do this by clicking on the ‘Trade Markets’ button on the left-hand side of the page.
Support assets include:
If you know what asset you want to invest in, simply search for it.
Step 5: Make an Investment
Once you have found an asset that you wish to buy, you simply need to place an order. In our example, we are buying $500 worth of HSBC stocks.
As you can see from the above, by leaving the ‘set rate’ as a ‘market’ order, we are buying exactly 19.83 shares (units). This is great, as there is no longer a requirement to buy whole assets. Finally, click on ‘buy’ to place your order!
There’s no shortage of attractive online investment platforms in the UK brokerage space. This is great for you as a trader, as you have plenty of providers at your fingertips. However, this can also make it difficult to know which broker to sign up with. As such, you need to look at key metrics like fees, commissions, regulation, tradable assets, and payments.
If you’re looking for the overall best UK investment platform for 2020, we suggest opting for eToro. The FCA regulated broker also offers a huge range of tradable assets, and with innovative tools like CopyTrader, it’s perfect for both beginners and more experienced traders.
eToro: Best Investment Platform in the UK
- Invest in Crypto, FX, Commodities, Stocks and ETFs
- FCA Regulated Platform
- Social and copy trading ideal for beginners
What are investment platforms?
Investment platforms are websites or mobile tradapps that allow you to buy and sell assets online.
How safe are investment platforms?
Investment platforms that are licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are extremely safe, as you will benefit from a number of regulator protections. We recommend only ever going with UK-licensed platforms.
How much money do I need to use investment platforms?
Minimum deposits vary from broker-to-broker. For example, while IG requires a minimum deposit of £250, Wealth Simple has no minimum at all.
What are the best investment platforms?
With more than 12 million registered members, eToro is our pick for the best investment platform in the UK. Not only can you trade a wide range of assets on a commission-free basis, but its social trading tools make online investing accessible for everyone.
How do investment platforms work?
Online investment platforms first require you to open an account and deposit funds. Once you do, you can then invest in thousands of different financial instruments. You can either buy underlying assets or trade contracts for difference (CFDs), depending on the platform. You can typically cash out your investments at any given time, and then withdraw the money back to your bank account or debit/credit card.