The Two Minute Review
- ☎️ Free intro call with a financial coach.
- 🙂 Can stock pick, buy funds or invest in ready-made portfolios.
- 🔬 Fund research is very detailed. We love “The Best™ Funds List” and “Spot The Dog List” which curate the top and bottom performing funds.
- 💷 Interest is offered on cash.
- 😐 Limited range of stocks to pick from.
- 🤔 Fees are slightly complicated.
- 👛 UK stocks have a £4.99 trading fee and a 0.4% account fee.
- 💱 High(ish) FX fee.
What The Experts Say
What Users Say
When you exclude reviews the company itself invited and look only at organic reviews the average score is 4.43.
Some Interesting User Comments
We spend hours reading user comments to see what feedback people are giving. Here are some positive and critical comments that stood out to us:
It clarified my options for me but I did not feel at all railroaded into making any decisions. I would recommend doing this if you are unsure of the stocks and shares market- I have had bad experiences before but now feel more confident.
A fast and modern App that shows all my investments in a clear and transparent view. Would recommend as an App for all Bestinvest investors who are on the go and need a seamless way to connect to their platform.
Deposited and invested £50 into an ETF just to get going. I now cannot find this ETF on the app, it somehow jumps between the app and the website depending on what link you click on. I know I have £50 somewhere on here, but no idea where. I will not be using it again as an app to invest with.
The managed portfolios are good and the management costs are competitive. The onboarding process is cumbersome and has faults. The website needs to be rethought. Best Invest ask for the client number, but can you find it on the website? The mobile app is awful. It is for a phone not a tablet and the small screen size means there is little room for features. The coaching is really for someone who has no idea of how to invest. Our coach was OK but we soon outstripped his knowledge.
The Deep Dive
Bestinvest, founded in 1986 by John Spiers, is a private financial services company headquartered in London. It has a long history of mergers and acquisitions – now being owned by the Evelyn Group (previously Tilney Smith & Williamson) – but it has consistently pioneered offering average Joe investors a wide range of funds in one place. Today lots of companies do this, but what makes Bestinvest stand out is its readiness to give help to its clients (including free coaching calls) and its low-cost fees for funds.
It has 46,000 customers and £45 billion in assets under management making it a huge player in the investing world.
Recently it had a big digital facelift which has been a generational shift in its user experience, making it relevant for younger, app-based investors.
🏦 BestInvest has the works!
General Investment Account (GIA): This is a standard investment account without tax-free benefits. Investors can hold multiple GIAs and invest without limits. However, profits over £6,000 per year might be subject to Capital Gains Tax and other applicable taxes.
Stocks and Shares ISA: A popular option due to its tax efficiency, this account allows investments up to £20,000 per tax year without any tax obligations on gains or income.
Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP): This account is designed for retirement savings, offering full control over pension investments. Contributions receive a 25% government bonus and higher or additional rate taxpayers can claim further tax back. Withdrawals are restricted until the age of 55 (57 from 2028).
Junior ISA and Junior SIPP: These accounts are for saving for children. The Junior ISA allows tax-free investments up to £9,000 per year per child, with account management possible from the age of 16 and withdrawals from 18. The Junior SIPP offers up to £2,880 per year investment with a 25% government bonus, turning into a regular pension at 18, with withdrawals possible from 57.
Other Accounts: Bestinvest also provides additional account types uncommon in other platforms, such as bare trusts for children’s savings, discretionary trusts for future generations, and SASS pensions for business-related savings
Range of Investments
😐 There is a wide variety of funds on offer – but the selection of stocks is behind some competitors.
Stocks and Shares: Bestinvest provides access to nearly 1,500 stocks and shares, mainly covering popular companies from the UK and the US. These are traded on major stock exchanges, such as the London Stock Exchange. Annoyingly, fractional shares are not offered.
Investment Funds: The platform offers over 1,600 investment funds and more than 330 exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The major difference is that funds can only be traded once a day, whereas ETFs can be bought and sold throughout trading hours. Both types encompass a wide array of investment options, including major indices like the FTSE 100 and S&P 500, and specialised sectors like green energy and electric vehicles.
Ready-made Portfolios: These are investment funds managed by experts at Evelyn Partners, Bestinvest’s parent company. There are different types of ready-made portfolios:
- Smart ready-made portfolios: Low-cost options aiming for significant growth.
- Expert ready-made portfolios: Invested in funds managed by experts- you pick a risk/reward level and then let the fund do the work for you.
- Direct ready-made portfolios: Invest directly into individual shares.
This choice of portfolios is designed to take the hard work out of investing and really sets Bestinvest up as a competitor to Nutmeg and other “robo-advisers” that provide off-the-shelf managed investment options.
Investment Trusts: Bestinvest offers nearly 300 investment trusts. These are similar to investment funds but are structured as companies with shares that trade on a stock exchange.
Cash Interest: Currently Bestinvest offer 4.35% interest on cash.
OK. Let’s do a comparison to some competitors:
So as you can see, it’s the bottom of the pack when it comes to choice. However, this is mainly due to only having 1,500 stocks. If you’re after funds then its range is actually pretty decent (and they do a very good job of curating them too).
👛 Bestinvest’s fees are low but complicated.
How much you pay with Bestinvest really depends on the types of assets you buy. It is very cheap when you’re buying US stocks or ready-made portfolios, but for other products it’s more expensive. The fees break down into two types – account fees and trading fees:
These are charged as an annual percentage (billed monthly) of your overall portfolio.
You will pay £4.95 when trading UK stock, but US stocks are free as are all funds. However, there is a currency conversion fee of 0.95% for anything not listed in GBP.
This compares pretty favourably against competitors. Hargreaves Lansdown starts its account fee at 0.45% on both shares and funds plus will charge you £11.95 for trades and 1% for currency conversion. AJ Bell charges 0.25% (max. £3.50 a month) but will charge a tenner per trade and 0.75% in currency conversion. So it’s clearly cheaper than HL, but it will depend on the amount of UK stocks you hold as to whether it’s cheaper than AJ Bell.
Note: Funds you invest in may charge you their own small fees – but this will be the same on any platform. UK stocks are also liable to Stamp Duty of 0.5%.
There are a few aspects of Bestinvest’s service that we think are awesome.
Most platforms offer educational materials and market analysis. Some even go so far as to have the odd podcast. Bestinvest stands alone in offering a free investment coaching call. It’s 45 minutes long and an advisor will talk through your goals and suggest how Bestinvest can help you reach them.
It doesn’t, however, constitute advice. For this, you will have to pay, but the fees are quite reasonable. There are two levels you can pick:
Investing For Your Goals: On this call, a coach will suggest actual investments you could buy in order to reach your targets. After the call, you will be given actionable suggestions of stocks and funds to trade in the form of a report. This costs £295.
Portfolio Check: This is similar to the Goals service, but instead deep dives into your existing portfolio and makes suggestions on assets to buy and assets to ditch. You get a follow-up report with this service too. It costs £495.
We like these services (especially the free one) as it feels like Bestinvest is trying to be a genuine partner to its clients rather than a simple trading middleman.
Bestinvest prides itself on “The Best™ Funds List”, a curated selection of investment funds, representing its choices for the most promising funds available in the market. This list is carefully compiled after thoroughly analysing various sectors of the market, such as UK Income or Emerging Markets. The selection process is not taken lightly; it involves considerable time and effort, focusing on the people, process, and philosophy behind each fund. Bestinvest uses specific criteria, referred to as their “10 commandments”, to evaluate and choose the funds for this list.
While we like The Best™ Funds List we love even more the “Spot The Dog” list of funds which names and shames underperforming funds.
The Ready-Made Portfolios
We discussed these above, but we think the way Bestinvest combines these with a wider trading platform makes it stand out. With Nutmeg, for example, you’re sacrificing choice. With Bestinvest, you can still pick individual stocks or funds if you want and then use the remaining portion in a “do it for me” portfolio.
What Is The Platform Like?
🖥️ It’s much improved but still needs work.
Recently the platform had an overhaul, becoming much more modern and user-friendly. We liked that when using the platform to buy funds we got a lot of information. This included performance over time, charges and a breakdown of assets within the fund by asset category, geography and market cap (i.e. the size of the company). You can also see the top holdings within the fund and what sectors they represent (e.g. healthcare, property, technology).
Most of this you can get on other platforms but a nice additional feature is the “Bestinvest view” which gives a candid explanation of how it sees the fund.
All the info is generally well presented, except for the performance section which is embedded from a company called “FE fundinfo” and looks like it’s from the 80s.
Stocks and shares are not given the same treatment, with everything being provided by a third-party (and again looking dated). It’s more basic, but we did like the “What the brokers say” feature which collates broker opinion on a spectrum from “strong sell” to “strong buy”.
Opening An Account
🚪 We personally set up a Bestinvest account and it was a breeze.
You just need to provide basic details and your National Insurance number.
How Good Is Customer Service?
☎️ Customer service is good.
We tested the phone service by calling them with a general enquiry. It took us 2 minutes and 41 seconds to get through their IVR and to speak to a human, who was friendly and answered our question right away.
Alternatively, you can contact them through email but they don’t have webchat.
Is It Good For Beginners?
🧑🎓 Yes, it’s excellent for beginners.
We would definitely recommend Bestinvest for novices. Key to this is the intro call with a coach – it’s a unique proposition.
The fee structure is also excellent for those looking to invest in funds – which is where most beginners should start off.
Bestinvest offers some educational materials which are fine for the very basics but its news and analysis section isn’t updated very often for when you want to move past this. However, the “The Best™ Funds List” is very good and provides a great jumping-off point for beginners.
Is It Safe?
🔒 Bestinvest is generally considered safe.
Bestinvest operates under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, ensuring regulatory compliance and adherence to financial standards. This compliance includes protecting client assets and implementing security measures for data protection. Additionally, Bestinvest’s clients may be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which provides a safety net for investors if a financial firm fails. However, while regulatory frameworks and compensation schemes provide certain safeguards, it’s important to remember that investment values can fluctuate, and the FSCS does not cover losses due to market movements. Investors should always consider market risks inherent in any investment.
So Is Bestinvest Good?
Yes. It’s a good platform – but it can be beaten on costs and user experience. We think it’s only really worth a look if you mostly want to deal in funds or US stocks and would really appreciate the free coaching session.