There are many investor apps available today, so choosing the right one for your needs and experience is tough. To make it a whole lot easier, we’ve rounded up the top 12 investment apps for UK investors, and what they offer.
When I first worked in the financial markets, electronic trading systems were in their infancy. Throughout my career, I was fortunate enough to be in a position in which I could help design and test systems from both market and client focus.
Today, such systems have advanced to become trading and investment apps, available to anyone with a computer or smartphone, and not only the wealthiest investors. However, there are now so many options available, that selecting the best can be a daunting prospect. Which is why I’ve cast my eye over the sea of UK investment apps.
In this article, I discuss what I consider to be the best, and for which type of investor. For each app, I’ve summarised why it has made my list, and included a list of its best features, strengths, and weaknesses.
Best Investment Apps Based On Need:
- Beginners & Social Traders:
- eToro stands out for its unique social trading features and commission-free trades, perfect for those starting out or interested in learning from others.
- Diversified Options & Experienced Investors:
- IG and Hargreaves Lansdown offer extensive investment choices and robust platforms, ideal for seasoned investors seeking depth and variety.
- Cost-Conscious & Simple Trading:
- Freetrade appeals to those seeking a straightforward, commission-free trading experience.
- ETF Enthusiasts:
- InvestEngine is the go-to for its focus on ETFs, offering a blend of DIY and managed portfolios with low fees.
- Micro-Investing & Beginners:
- Moneybox is excellent for those starting small, offering an intuitive platform for spare-change investments.
- Robo-Advised, Managed Investments:
- Nutmeg and Moneyfarm are top choices for tailored, professionally managed portfolios, especially for long-term investors.
- Comprehensive Research & Tools:
- Interactive Investor and Hargreaves Lansdown are suited for investors with substantial portfolios, offering a wide range of assets and advanced trading features.
My Top 12 UK Investment Apps For 2024
No two investors are quite the same. Your financial circumstances, investment knowledge and goals, risk profile, and preferred investment style have a great degree of uniqueness. Wrap all of this up, and it means that it would be foolish for me to say, “Hey, this is the best investment app and the one you should use.”
Therefore, I’ve created this list of what I consider to be the UK’s 12 best investment apps. Whether you’re a beginner or a highly experienced investor, or you wish to invest in socially responsible funds, build your own portfolio, or let professionals manage your funds, you’ll find an investment platform suited to your needs in this list.
First, here’s a quick reference guide. (Tip: read this in conjunction with my summary of each investment app that follows).
1. AJ Bell: A Balanced Blend
If you want a balance between a user-friendly platform and diverse investment options, then AJ Bell could be the ideal choice. Whether you’re a long-term investor or active trader, this is a great platform.
However, you’ll need to keep an eye on trading fees, especially if you’re a frequent trader.
- Wide range of investment options including stocks, funds, and ETFs.
- Annual platform fee scaling with portfolio size.
- User-friendly platform and app.
- Suitable for diverse investor needs.
- Competitive pricing structure.
- Flat fee for trades may not favour frequent traders.
- Potentially overwhelming for new investors.
2. eToro: The Social Trading Leader
A great investment app for novices, providing a blend of traditional approach with modern innovation. Commission-free trading in stocks and ETFs is attractive, but the kicker is its social-trading feature.
This allows you to mirror the trades of more seasoned investors, making it a valuable tool to learn a few trading tricks. However, you’ll need to watch for withdrawal and inactivity fees.
- Commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs.
- Unique social trading features, including CopyTrading.
- Wide array of investment options: stocks, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies.
- User-friendly interface.
- Smart Portfolios for diversified investments.
- Ideal for beginners with copy trading options.
- No commission fees on stock and ETF trading.
- Extensive range of tradeable assets.
- Withdrawal fee and inactivity fee applicable.
- Limited to a single account currency option.
3. Freetrade: Commission-Free Haven
Do you want an easy-to-use investment app that also lets you trade without fees? Then Freetrade could be the app for you. It offers commission-free trading in stocks and ETFs, which is great for both beginners and experienced investors.
You’ll also find it to be a user-friendly interface, though it does lack advanced trading tools.
- Commission-free share trading.
- Free share for new accounts.
- Intuitive user interface.
- Supports stocks, ETFs, investment trusts, and more.
- Low entry point, suitable for beginner investors.
- Hassle-free way to invest in the stock market.
- Helpful resources for new investors.
- Limited product variety.
- Lacks advanced research tools.
4. Hargreaves Lansdown: The Knowledge Hub
For extensive research and educational resources, Hargreaves Lansdown is hard to beat. You’ll love the knowledge hub as a novice, though the app has the comprehensive features and tiered fee structure that also make it highly suitable for experienced investors.
It’s a robust platform with a fantastic range of investment assets to trade.
- Extensive range of assets including shares, funds, and ETFs.
- High-quality research and insights.
- Strong customer service.
- Ideal for optimising investment strategies.
- Tiered fee structure for cost-effective trading.
- Higher cost per trade at the basic level.
- May be less appealing for beginners and infrequent traders.
5. IG: Diverse Trading and Investment Platform
Renowned for its extensive range of investment options – including shares, ETFs, bonds, and digital currencies – IG offers a solid platform complemented by 24/7 customer support. It’s great for experienced investors, and its Smart Portfolio tool will help you build a portfolio to suit your investment profile.
If you wish to trade forex, this is also a great app. The fee structure is advantageous for active traders.
- Extensive range of investment options including stocks, ETFs, bonds, and digital currencies.
- Offers both a traditional trading platform and a robo-advisor in the form of Smart Portfolios.
- Available on iOS and Android, facilitating trading on the go.
- Leverage and short-selling options available for various assets.
- 24/7 customer support.
- Suitable for a wide range of investors, from beginners to experienced traders.
- Diverse trading options, from direct investments to CFDs and spread betting.
- Robust platform with a range of tools and resources for market analysis.
- The platform’s wide range of features might be overwhelming for absolute beginners.
- Custody fees and foreign exchange fees for non-UK investments could add up, especially for less active traders.
6. Interactive Investor: For The Portfolio Pro
I like the extensive range of investment assets available to trade on the Interactive Investor app, which is both robust and user-friendly. Its monthly subscription model is somewhat unique, but doesn’t favour smaller investors.
- Extensive selection of investment options.
- Fixed monthly subscription fee model.
- User-friendly interface.
- Offers stocks, ETFs, funds, and bonds.
- Ideal for investors with substantial portfolios.
- Wide range of assets for portfolio diversification.
- Monthly fee could be disadvantageous for smaller investors.
- Additional charges for trades beyond the included monthly trade.
7. InvestEngine: ETF-Focused Investment Platform
If you favour ETFs as your asset of choice, InvestEngine could be the best investment app for you. With more than 500 ETFs available to trade on the platform, and low trading costs, you can use InvestEngine to create your own DIY portfolio or invest in one of its managed portfolios.
A good option for both beginners and experienced ETF investors looking for efficient and affordable ETF trading.
- Specialises in ETF investments, offering both DIY and managed portfolio options.
- Zero fee for DIY portfolios and a low 0.25% fee for managed portfolios.
- Provides access to a wide selection of over 500+ ETFs.
- User-friendly platform, suitable for both new and experienced investors.
- Offers portfolio analysis and automated rebalancing.
- Excellent choice for those focused on ETF investments.
- Exceptionally low cost, especially for DIY investment options.
- The platform’s simplicity and intuitive design make it accessible for all levels of investors.
- Limited to ETFs, which might not suit investors looking for a wider range of individual stocks or other assets.
8. Moneybox: The Micro-Investing Master
Moneybox is a great option if you find it hard to save money to invest, or if you want to drip-feed money into your portfolio. Its round-up feature makes investing spare change effortless.
However, while the app is intuitive, you’ll need to be mindful of the subscription and platform fees, especially if you’re investing lesser amounts.
- Round-up feature for spare change investment.
- Range of portfolios from low to high risk.
- Offers Lifetime ISA and pension options.
- Subscription-based with low monthly costs.
- Ideal for beginners starting with minimal amounts.
- Effective automatic saving tool.
- User-friendly app with diverse investment options.
- Limited investment choices.
- Fees may impact smaller investments.
9. Moneyfarm: Tailored Investment Management
If you want an app that lets you benefit from personalised portfolio management, Moneyfarm is worth considering. It selects a portfolio for you based upon your investment and risk profile.
Its portfolios are managed by professionals. However, while offering hands-off investments, fees are higher for smaller portfolios.
- Personalised investment portfolios.
- Lower fees for larger investments.
- High regulatory compliance and security.
- Matching individual risk profiles.
- Encourages long-term growth.
- Strong security measures.
- Higher fees for smaller investments.
- Less control compared to self-directed platforms.
10. Nutmeg: The Robo-Advisor Pioneer
An almost perfect platform for beginners, especially if you want a blend of expert management and innovative technology. A minimum investment of £100 allows you to access a choice of portfolios tailored to your risk profile.
With reasonable fees, Nutmeg is a good option if you’re a long-term investor, including in socially responsible investments.
- Range of investment options including ISAs and pensions.
- Socially responsible investments available.
- User-friendly mobile and desktop app.
- Tailored to long-term investors.
- Clear, straightforward investment approach.
- Diverse account types and portfolios.
- Strong educational resources.
- Slightly higher fees and £500 minimum deposit.
- More suitable for long-term rather than day traders.
11. Trading 212: Zero-Commission Champion
Standing out for zero-commission trading, Trading 212 is a good choice if you want exposure to stocks and/or ETFs. It’s a good platform, which I feel is better for trading than investing long term.
- Commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs.
- Real-time market data and analysis tools.
- User-friendly interface.
- Reduces costs for users with no commission fees.
- Comprehensive tools for informed investment decisions.
- Overwhelming for new investors.
- More focused on traders than long-term investors.
12. Wealthify: Simplicity Meets Efficiency
Do you want to invest with a hands-off approach, and start small to test the water? You’ll find Wealthify to be an excellent choice.
It’s transparent and straightforward, with portfolios managed by professionals. Once more, though, while fees are reasonable, they can soon mount up (especially for its ethical portfolios).
- User-friendly robo-advisor platform.
- Offers ISAs, general investment accounts, and Junior ISAs.
- Variety of risk-level portfolios mainly consisting of ETFs.
- Ethical investment options available.
- Accessible entry point with low minimum deposit.
- Diverse and socially responsible portfolios.
- Automated investment management.
- Higher costs compared to some rivals.
- Fee impact significant on smaller investments.
5 Alternatives to the Top 12 Investment Apps
When considering the range of investment platforms available, there were several others on my radar that nearly made it into my top 12.
All the following bring something different to the table, making them viable alternatives for you to consider for your unique investment needs and preferences. Here’s a summary of these investment apps:
1. Acorns: The Micro-Investing Beginner
- Perfect for beginners starting with small amounts.
- Offers an intuitive round-up feature for micro-investing.
- While fees might be higher for smaller portfolios, it’s great for automatic saving and investing.
2. Fidelity: Diverse Investment Giant
- Offers comprehensive investment services with an extensive range of mutual funds.
- Known for quality research and exceptional customer service.
- A well-respected option for investors seeking a combination of security and variety.
3. Plum: All-Round Money Management
- Stands out for its versatility, especially suitable for beginners and micro-investors.
- Offers automatic investment of spare change and AI-driven analysis.
- A user-friendly interface with functionalities for seamless money management and investment.
4. Plus500: CFD Trading Pro
- A solid choice for those interested in CFD trading.
- Offers a wide range of financial products with commission-free trading.
- Best suited for active traders given its focus on CFDs and comprehensive trading tools.
5. Vanguard: The Index Fund Innovator
- Best for those who prefer investing in mutual funds and ETFs.
- Known for low-cost funds and a transparent pricing structure.
- Ideal for both passive and active investors looking for a wide range of fund options.
Is It Safe to Use an Investment App?
One thing you may be concerned about is whether investment apps are safe to use. I’m not talking about the safety of your investment here – investments can go down as well as up, can’t they?
What I think you’ll agree is crucial is your data and the funds you hold through the app.
You’ll be relieved to know that most investment apps in the UK benefit from multiple layers of security designed to protect systems and your trading account from being hacked. These security measures include:
- Multi-factor authentication to log in
- Advanced encryption
- Compliance with GDPR regulations
You’ll also find that the best investment app providers are regulated by bodies such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States.
In the UK, such firms also provide protection to you under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This means that the first £85,000 of your investment is protected should the firm go bankrupt, for example.
Of course, before you open an account with an online broker/investment app, you should review its updated security policies and procedures, and its status with regulatory bodies.
Should You Use an Investment App?
Investing via an investment app eliminates the need to open an account with a traditional broker or use the services of (often expensive) financial advisors. You can manage your own investments, either with a hands-on, active approach or by investing in a hassle-free, ready-made portfolio.
You can invest in a wide range of investments assets, across borders, in real time. Depending on your needs, different apps offer features such as automatic investment, dealing in fractional shares, analytical tools, and low costs.
Whether you have years of trading/investment experience or you’re a complete novice, there is an app that aligns with your goals, experience level, and investment style. You’ll find it’s an effortless way to track your investments, and adding or withdrawing money can usually be done in a click or two.
However, you’ll need to ensure that the ease of use doesn’t encourage you to overtrade – this could lead to poor investment decisions and unnecessary trading expenses.
Find Your Best Investment App
Choosing an investment app that is best for you can be like walking through a minefield. Make the wrong step, and your decision could blow up in your face. Take the right steps, and you’ll benefit from a choice that will free your investing potential.
To make this choice, you’ll need to consider a range of factors. I’ve found the most effective strategy to employ is to answer the following questions:
- Are you a beginner or experienced investor?
- Do you have experience of investing in specific assets?
- Do you prefer a hands-on approach or a more automated, advisor-driven, or robo-advisor strategy?
- Are you trading for short-term gains or investing for long-term wealth accumulation?
- Do you have specific financial goals like saving for retirement, a house, or education?
- Are you comfortable with high-risk, high-reward investments, or do you prefer safer, more stable options?
- How do you react to market volatility?
- What level of downside will result in sleepless nights?
Type of Investments
- Are you interested in stocks, bonds, ETFs or funds, or a mix of these?
- Do you want to invest in individual stocks, or do you prefer diversified portfolios?
- What is your initial investment amount?
- Are you planning to make regular contributions?
Fees and Charges
- What are the trading fees, subscription fees, and any other associated costs on the app?
- Are you looking for a low-cost option, or are you willing to pay higher fees for premium services (like advanced analytics and research, or investment advice)?
- Do you need a user-friendly platform with an easy-to-navigate interface?
- Are you comfortable with complex platforms that offer advanced trading tools?
- Is real-time portfolio valuation important to you?
Research and Educational Resources
- Do you need access to comprehensive market research and educational materials?
- How important is ongoing investor education to you?
- How do you wish to access educational resources – video, podcasts, online articles, eBooks, or a combination of all these?
Social Trading and Community
- Are you interested in social trading features like copy trading or community engagement?
- Do you value the ability to learn from and interact with other investors?
Regulatory Compliance and Security
- Is the app regulated by a reputable authority like the FCA?
- How secure is the platform in terms of protecting your financial data?
- Does the app include advanced security features?
- Is your money protected by the FSCS?
Accessibility and Mobility
- Do you prefer trading on a desktop or mobile app?
- How important is having access to your investments on the go?
- What level of customer support do you expect (e.g., 24/7 availability, live chat, phone support)?
- Have you checked reviews or ratings about the platform’s customer service?
- Are there specific features you’re looking for, like automatic rebalancing or investment alerts?
- Do you require international investment options?
- Are you looking to invest within a tax-efficient wrapper like an ISA or a SIPP?
How To Open An Investment App Account
While the specific details of opening an account with a UK investment app will be unique to the app, most facilitate account opening in just a few minutes using a step-by-step approach that is likely to cover the following steps:
- Download the app or visit the website.
- Sign up for an account by providing your email address and creating a secure password. You may be asked to choose which type of account you want to open (e.g. ISA, GIA, or SIPP), though this may be required later in the process.
- Verify your email address.
- Complete the registration process, providing a few personal details such as your address, date of birth, and NI number. You may also need to answer questions about your employment status and investment experience.
- Verify your identity by uploading a photo ID (passport or driving license) and proof of address.
- Self-assess your risk profile by answering a risk questionnaire.
- Add funds to your account by bank transfer or debit card.
You’ll now be ready to make your first investment, access educational resources, and configure your account settings (for example, automatic reinvestment of dividends, regular deposits and investments, and investment alerts).
It really is this easy!
Investment App Tips
An investment app should help you to increase your wealth and achieve your long-term goals. But you know what they say – the app is only as good as the person using it. (Okay, so I made that up, but it’s true!)
Here’s what my experience has taught me:
1. Get Educated!
Every day is a learning day, and the world of investing is constantly evolving. Take advantage of the investment-education resources available to you.
Even a rudimentary understanding of the basics – like compounding returns, risk v return, and diversification strategies – can make a significant difference to your success as an investor.
2. Know Your Investment Goals
Define your specific investment objectives before dipping your toe in the water. Your financial goals should drive your investment strategy.
3. Understand Your Attitude and Tolerance to Risk
There is no point in investing if it’s going to give you sleepless nights. You’ll need to be clear about your emotional capacity to accept risk, and your financial capacity to manage it.
4. Start Small
Risk little to learn a lot. Small trades will help you master the app and learn how markets move, and can also be used to refine your investment strategy.
5. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Unless you really know your onions, the best way to reduce your risk is to diversify your investment across different assets, industrial sectors, and geographies. Consider ETFs, investment trusts, and managed portfolios as your go-tos, depending on your investment style and financial objectives.
6. Automate All You Can
Many investment apps offer features like automatic reinvesting of dividends or regular monthly investments. These can help in building your portfolio steadily over time.
7. Beware Costly Fees
Know your costs because these will impact returns. You’ll need to consider what assets you’ll be trading and how frequently, and calculate costs like transaction fees, subscription charges, and custody charges.
8. Avoid Emotional Trading Decisions
My biggest ever single trade loss when I was trading equities happened because I made an emotional decision. My biggest ever single profit was entirely founded on a logical, rational, emotionless analysis.
If you allow your emotions to drive your investment decisions, it will cost money. Greed is the pirate of profits. Fear is the friend of losses.
9. Don’t be Scared to Cut Losses or Take Profits
No one ever went bust taking a profit. Plenty of people have lost big money because they rode a loss too long.
10. Patience is Key
It may be tempting to chase quick profits, but long-term thinking tends to yield better results. If you are constantly changing tact, buying and selling, this could lead to excessive costs, poor decisions, and loss-making trades.
11. Be Tax Savvy
Understand the tax implications of your investments – think of them as another cost that could have horrible consequences for your net returns. Utilise tax-efficient accounts like ISAs or SIPPs where possible to shield your investment from the taxman.
12. Regularly Review and Rebalance Your Portfolio
Your life evolves. So do economies and markets. It follows that your investment strategy should stay updated with this evolution. Make certain that your portfolio remains aligned with your changing goals and risk profile, and rebalance your portfolio accordingly.
Using an investment app should be a pleasurable and profitable experience. It starts with choosing the best app for your purposes. As you’ve learned by reading this article, each app possesses unique features, catering to beginners, seasoned investors, and those with specific financial goals or investment styles.
In making your choice of investment app, you’ll need to consider many factors, and be clear about what you want and expect from it. Don’t forget to consider costs, either.
Whether you desire hands-on control of your investments or prefer expert-managed portfolios, the right investment app has the power to transform your journey toward your financial objectives.
Of course, once you have selected the app for you, the power will be in your hands – and this means developing a long-term, logic-led investment strategy that you review often.
Happy investing to you!