As part of my continued efforts to provide you with the most up to date reviews, this is the second time I have reviewed IG and I am pleased to say that I continue to be impressed with the low cost platform who retain their place as my ‘Best Overall Trading Platform’.
IG have been providing investment services for over 45 years, and today boast more than 178,000 clients with access to over 17,000 financial markets across the globe. They remain the largest online CFD provider as well as being one of the most competitive platforms available in terms of fees.
One of the aspects of IG that really distinguishes them from their competition is their provision of both a Share Dealing ISA and an IG Smart Portfolio ISA, illustrating their continued commitment to both experienced traders and to investors looking for a fully managed service. However, I was disappointed to learn that IG has not accepted new SIPP accounts since October 2020. It is my understanding that this is a result of IG changing SIPP providers, but this seems like a long lag time in any instance. I will go into this in more detail in my full review below and suggest an alternative for those looking for a SIPP now.
As always, I have gone through the onboarding process at IG, checked their offering of investments, scrutinised their fees and contacted their customer service in order to bring you the most comprehensive IG review on the web.
76% of retail investor accounts risk losing money rapidly when trading spread bets and CFDs
Who is IG?
IG are a British run online trading provider in financial derivatives, including contracts for difference (CFD), spread betting and stockbroking, to retail investors from across the globe. They are fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and have partnered with BlackRock in order to provide their IG Smart Portfolio accounts.
Is IG regulated elsewhere?
Yes, IG are also regulated by the following tier 1 regulators:
- Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC)
- Japanese Financial Services Authority (JFSA)
- Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
- Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA)
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
- Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BAFIN)
- New Zealand Financial Markets Authority (FMA)
Who Owns IG?
IG Investments is a private company founded in the UK in 1974 by Stuart Wheeler. Today, it is owned by IG Markets Ltd, part of the IG Group, which is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange.
With IG there are over 17,000 markets to trade on with the following products:
- Industry Sectors
- Interest Rates
With over 80 indices, 16,000 shares, and commodities that include iron, copper, lead, zinc, nickel or cobalt, there is plenty of choice, even for advanced traders. IG is primarily a CFD and forex broker. For investors with less experience who are after more of a managed service, IG offer their extensive range of Smart Portfolios which I will go into in more detail below:
IG Smart Portfolio Review
The Smart Portfolios were launched in 2017 in partnership with BlackRock and form what is essentially a robo-advisory service at IG. This is to say that they are fully managed, diversified, risk assessed, low cost portfolios that provide exposure to a wide range of IG markets in a mix of stocks, bonds and commodities.
These five smart portfolios offer an excellent investment for inexperienced investors similar to what you may expect to find at Nutmeg or Wealthify. Investors are asked to complete a questionnaire that is then used to establish their appetite for risk in an effort to match them with the most appropriate portfolio.
During my questionnaire I was asked to identify how much money I would like to invest and for how long as well as how much money I had set aside in my emergency fund. IG will not allow investors to continue past this point unless they have more than 3 months of emergency funds available.
IG Smart Portfolio Fees
There are no withdrawal fees or inactivity fees to worry about when you invest with an IG Smart Portfolio. Total annual fees can be as low as 0.22% of your investment amount, which is explained in more detail in the table below.
|Investment amount||IG management fee||Average fund costs||Transaction costs||Total (annual)|
|Up to £50,000||0.50%||0.15%||0.07%||0.72%|
To give you an idea of how these IG fees stack up against the competition, I have compared them to Nutmegs Fully Managed Portfolio and found them to be very competitive.
|Investment amount||Nutmeg management fee||Average fund costs||Market Spread||Total (annual)|
|Up to £100,000||0.75%||0.19%||0.05%||0.99%|
IG Smart Portfolio Performance
The IG Smart Portfolios have performed well in recent years with four out of five of their portfolios beating their respective benchmarks with the moderate and aggressive portfolios outperforming by +8.1% to +11.9%. Of course this data is limited as IG only launched their smart portfolio in 2017, however, as an indicator these results are certainly promising.
IG Smart Portfolio vs Nutmeg Fully Managed
Here I have compared the IG Smart Portfolio with that of Nutmeg so you can see how they stack up against each other.
|Provider||Minimum Investment||Annual Fee||Returns since 2017|
|Ig Smart Portfolio Balanced||£500||0.72%||26.7%|
|Nutmeg Fully Managed level 6||£500||0.75%||34.7%|
It is important to remember that past performance is not a guarantee of future results. However, both these providers have done well in recent years with Nutmeg pulling slightly ahead in terms of performance.
This is IG’s answer to a General Investment Account and is very suited to experienced investors who have the time and resources to study the market in order to create their own diversified portfolio.
Under the general investment account, you can deal shares, buy ETFs, and participate in spread betting through CFDs and Forex trading. You get access to leveraged and unleveraged products. The general investment account is a valuable product and it’s one of the cheapest dealing options in the UK.
Once you sign up, you get access to over 17,000 markets as well as 24/7 pricing on global indices. You also get access to hard and soft commodities as well as cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ether, and Ripple).
IG Smart Portfolio vs Share Dealing
You may be wondering which of these two options would be best suited to you and your circumstances so I have taken the time to provide a quick summary which I hope will assist you with this decision.
In short, if you are new to investing, have limited knowledge, or don’t have the time to commit to researching the IG markets, then I would recommend you consider a Smart Portfolio.
However, experienced investors, who want to choose their own investments, and understand how to diversify and assess risk, should choose the Share Dealing Account as their best option.
IG SIPP Review
Whilst IG usually offer their users a SIPP account, this is currently unavailable while they source a new provider. Unfortunately, there is very little information available that I can pass on to you about when this might potentially be a viable option, however, a conversation with their customer service team has revealed that this is already delayed and they expect to be able to offer a new SIPP to IG users soon. Given that at the time of this review, their SIPP product had been unavailable for at least 9 months, I would recommend that you seek alternative arrangements should you be looking for a SIPP.
Alternative SIPP Recommendations
This is one of the lowest cost SIPPs available and Interactive Investor have waived their SIPP charge for the first six months for all new accounts. After that you can expect to pay £10 a month. You can find out more about the ii SIPP by reading my Interactive Investor review.
Hargreaves Lansdown comes fully loaded with a wealth of trading tools and functionality within the low cost of 0.45% of an investment amount of up to £250,000 and 0.25% for anything above that.
The stand out feature of the IG Stocks and Shares ISA is that it affords you access to both the Share Dealing account for active, experienced investors and the Smart Portfolio for investors who are after a more hands off approach. This means that in terms of choice they are hard to beat. In fact at IG you can split your ISA allowance between the two account types, taking advantage of their huge range of investment options, and their fully managed portfolio at the same time.
Regardless of how you split your funds between the two ISA types at IG, your annual ISA allowance remains the same which for the financial year of 2021/22 is £20,000.
When you choose a Share Dealing ISA, you:
- Get access to 16,000 global stocks and ETFs
- Buy UK shares for £3 commissions
- Enjoy foreign exchange fees of 0.5%
When you choose the IG Smart Portfolio ISA, you:
- Receive a pre-built portfolio designed for your risk portfolio
- Enjoy a fully-managed ISA portfolio
- Receive access to global markets with BlackRock’s iShares ETFs
- Create multiple portfolios within the wrapper
- Pay only management fees (no commission)
- Watch your portfolio’s construction
The other feature of note is that with the IG Stocks and Shares ISA you can withdraw funds at any time without reducing your ISA allowance. This is something that isn’t always possible on other platforms and therefore a huge advantage if you think you may need to access your ISA funds temporarily.
If you already have an ISA with another provider, transferring to IG is quick and easy and comes at no cost to you whatsoever.
IG Review – ISA Fees
The total annual cost of an IG Smart Portfolio is 0.72% on the first £50,000 and 0.22% on everything over that figure. With most big players, you need to invest upwards of £250,000 before you begin seeing fees that low. IG drops the management fee on funds over £50,000, which means you only need to pay the fund cost and transaction costs. The fees offered on accounts up to £50,000 are quite high for the industry, but they’re particularly attractive over £50,000.
IG doesn’t list a maintenance charge on the share dealing ISA because the share dealing ISA isn’t managed. Instead, you pay commission fees every time you trade. When you buy US shares, you pay £10 commission on your first two monthly trades and pay zero commission per trade once you get to three trades.
UK shares cost more. You’ll pay £8 for 0-2 trades and £3 for three trades and over. The rates apply up to £25,000.
If you choose a share dealing account, you do better when you trade more. You get the most for your money when you trade three times a month or more.
Additionally, you’ll pay a custody fee of £24 per quarter on both stocks and shares ISA types. However, you can avoid the custody fee if you deal three or more times per quarter or your IG Smart Portfolio is worth at least £15,000 at the end of the quarter.
IG Review Research Services & Tools
Because IG Investments offers a comprehensive trading service beyond ISAs and SIPPs, you’d expect a greater array of research tools compared to a robo-advisor or another low-cost firm. You get basic risk management tools and stop-losses included, but you can upgrade to more advanced tools if you pay a premium.
Charting includes ProRealTime charts and the option to split your charts for simpler viewing. However, you may either need to pay for access or make a certain number of trades to get access to some of the tools. You’ll also need to pay a fee for stop-losses.
If you’re an advanced or professional trader, you can use IG via your own software or even on a Bloomberg terminal. You also have the option for trading in forex and CFDs trading via L2 Dealer and bypass IG’s dealing desk through direct market access (DMA). However, ESMA requires that you have a professional designation, so this won’t appeal to the average IG client.
IG does deliver more research tools than you’d find in a typical low-cost online broker in part because its service model caters to professional investors. However, not everything is geared to those who make a career in trading.
There are plenty of basic options, too.
Whether you’re a new or experienced trader, you get access to an archive of articles covering news and commentary around market events. These articles cater to both new investors as well as more experienced traders. For example, you’ll find articles on whether you should invest in a pension or ISA as well as posts analysing the impact of COVID-19 on Tesco’s share price. There is also real time news that provides useful information and covers major currency pairs.
Beyond its informational archive, IG also offers the IG Academy. The IG Academy is a series of free online courses, seminars, and webinars aimed at teaching the art and science of trading. IG says it caters to both new investors and those who already know the basics. You’ll find the most appropriate courses for novices are labelled ‘Beginner’, which makes them easier to find. Some of the more popular courses include:
- Introducing the financial markets
- How does trading work?
- Orders, execution, and leverage
The factor setting IG’s academy apart is the live sessions and webinars presented both online and in-person. These aren’t just run on an ad-hoc basis. You’ll find them daily – even on weekends. On Saturday evenings, IG runs a “The week in global markets” program as well as a “Key News Trading Events for the Week Ahead”.
The research and tools used by experienced investors aren’t a stand-out feature. However, you do get access to a forum, which allows you to both learn and give tips to the community. You may find you learn more from the forum than you might through using your research skills alone. There are 78,000 forum members and you can get on the forum both through the web trading platform and the IG mobile app.
Those new to the platform also have access to a full tutorial on IG’s trading platform. Plus, you have the option to set up a demo account, which allows you to familiarise yourself without risking any real money. When you’re ready, you can create your live account and start trading immediately.
IG Review Fees & Charges
Because IG offers so many different investment types on its trading platform, the fee structure isn’t as straightforward as what’s offered by a robo advisor app or an ultra-low-cost platform like DEGIRO.
IG promises low fees that help won’t stifle your growing wealth. However, it’s fee structure differs by product, so let’s break them down.
The non-leveraged products offered include:
Leveraged products allow you to get greater market exposure without requiring more investment.
You can trade leveraged products on IG’s platform. IG’s offerings include:
- Spread betting
- Contracts for difference (CFDs)on equities and other asset classes
Generally speaking IG have higher than average forex fees and stock CFD trading fees. IG forex benchmark fees of a $20,000 30:1 long position held for one week comes in at $10.50 compared to eToro who were $8.10.
IG is perhaps best known for its CFD trading. Not only is IG one of the top CFD providers in the world, but its platform caters well to leveraged products. Keep in mind that when you engage in trading CFDs with this provider or any other that trading involves risk. You can always lose money. You’ll find the following disclaimer on IG’s site:
“Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.”
Remember that you can’t use leveraged products in your ISA. It’s not a platform choice: it’s the law.
IG vs Hargreaves Lansdown
When comparing IG vs Hargreaves Lansdown it’s easy to see how competitive they are when buying UK and US shares as the table below shows:
|Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month||£3 to £8||£11.95|
|Share Trading: 10-19 Deals/ Month||£3.00||£8.95|
|Share Trading: 20+ Deals/ Month||£3.00||£5.95|
|Annual Custody Fee: £0 – £250,000||£96 (can reduce by trading)||0.45%|
|Bonds – Government (Gilts) – Fee||N/A||£11.95|
|ETFs – Fee||£8.00||£11.95|
|Investment Trusts – Fee||£8.00||£11.95|
|Telephone Dealing Fee||£40.00||£20.00|
This table clearly illustrates that IG offers lower cost trading fees than Hargreaves Lansdown.
IG vs interactive investor
Yet again IG are coming in as more competitive than rivals interactive investor as the table below clearly illustrates.
|Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month||£3 to £8||£7.99 (Investor Plan)|
|Share Trading: 10-19 Deals/ Month||£3.00||£3.99 (Super Investor Plan)|
|Share Trading: 20+ Deals/ Month||£3.00||£3.99 (Super Investor Plan)|
|Annual Custody Fee: £0 – £250,000||£96 (can reduce by trading)||£119.88 (Investor Plan – £9.99 monthly)|
|Bonds – Government (Gilts) – Fee||N/A||£40 (when trade value is above £100,000)|
|ETFs – Fee||£8.00||£7.99 (Investor Plan)|
|Investment Trusts – Fee||£8.00||£7.99 (Investor Plan)|
|Telephone Dealing Fee||£40.00||£49.00|
IG Review Web Trading Platform
IG offer a fully customizable web trading platform which is highly intuitive and a joy to navigate. The clear, crisp design of the web platform can be completely changed to suit your style, providing scope for moving windows around and changing layouts. Investors are free to perform one-click trading maneuvers and create their own personalised watchlists. Two factor authentication provides state of the art security and there is plenty of functionality when it comes to placing orders including market order, limit order, stop-loss order, trailing stop order and guaranteed stop order.
IG Review Mobile App
As with the web trading platform, IG have provided a really well designed and intuitive mobile app that is fully loaded with great functionality. Biometric authentication makes it super convenient to login to your account and from there you can easily search for assets using the comprehensive search function and place orders. In terms of alerts, the mobile app isn’t quite as loaded as the web platform with only the capability of setting price alerts. However, when it comes to mobile trading, I found the app to be fit for purpose.
IG Review – Account Opening
The account opening process at IG is very quick and painless. To open an IG account, you click on ‘Open a Live Account’, located at the top-right corner of the home page. Once there, you can set-up your complete account in only a few minutes.
You can set up both the IG Smart Portfolio and share dealing at the same time. You only add a tax-efficient ISA once you have your IG trading accounts.
IG is available to residents of the UK as well as:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Isle of Man
There’s an option for ‘Other’ on the dropdown menu, but if you choose it, then you will not be able to create your account.
It’s unclear whether you can open an IG account as a U.S. citizen residing in the United Kingdom.
IG does require minimum investments for its ISA account. You need to invest a minimum of £500 for the IG Smart Portfolio ISA. There’s no minimum investment published for the Share Dealing ISA.
Transferring Your Investments to IG
You can transfer your existing ISA to IG. IG doesn’t assess any transfer fees, and there are no charges on electronic shares.
To transfer your account over, use the online transfer request form.
IG aims to complete all transfers within 14 days of receiving the request. However, the time frame depends on your current broker.
IG Customer Service Review
IG runs 24-hour customer service to give you the help you need on your schedule.
You have the option to email the helpdesk, call the customer service number (0800 409 6789), tweet your question to @IGClientHelp, or use the live chat function.
Finding the live chat function can be a challenge and it isn’t always operational, however, you can locate it on the contact us section of the webpage or alternatively it should appear once you have spent a few minutes on the site.
I have reviewed many platforms over the last few years, however, IG are the first platform to call me within 20 minutes of opening my account to offer their assistance. They tell me they aim to make this call as soon as possible upon any new account opening in order to help with getting started and answer any questions you may have.
I also particularly like IG’s help and support site. It provides more than the answers to FAQS and instead serves as a good resource so you can answer your own questions rather than sitting on hold. When you combine the FAQs and the IG Academy, you get a good window into how the platform operates.
IG has several thousand ratings on Trustpilot and an average score of 3.6 (as of July 2021). Reviews on customer service itself remain mixed. Some say their experience with service providers is polite and helpful, and those who disagree also tend to berate IG’s trading platform.
Who is IG Investments Suitable for?
IG caters to both moderately experienced traders and professionals with a platform that both works hard and extends to help both achieve their goals. Even if you don’t have interest or experience in investing, the Smart Portfolio is still a decent option at a standard price and their risk assessment is akin to robo investment advice. The IG demo account is also a great starting place for less experienced investors despite new product launches like the Smart Portfolio, IG ultimately caters more for forex trading and those with active trading strategies than it does to new investors or those who are only interested in Stocks and Shares ISAs. Even though every other IG review does warn novices to avoid spread betting, IG probably offers more options than other providers. Even still, the site may be a bit clunky for spread betting, at least when you first get started.
The bottom line: you might still get more out of the IG trading platform if you have a keen interest in trading than if you’re a complete novice. You might find it easier to start elsewhere and then transfer in.
Useful Information for IG
Important and useful information for customers of IG Investments.
How to Withdraw Money from IG Investments
Withdrawing funds from your IG account is simple: Log into your My IG account and visit the ‘live accounts’ tab. Then, choose ‘withdraw funds.’
How to Contact IG Investments
Getting in touch with IG is easy. You can get in touch 24 hours a day between Monday and Friday.
If you have questions about trading, the platform, or opening a new account, your options include:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (existing clients)
- Phone: 0800 195 3100
- Twitter: @IGClientHelp
- Post: IG Cannon Bridge House, 25 Dowgate Hill, London, EC46 2YA
How to Close an Account at IG Investments
To close your account, first If you want to close your account, you need to ensure there are no longer any open positions left on your account. You also need to withdraw all remaining funds. When you’re ready to close the account, you need to make the request in writing.
You must email firstname.lastname@example.org from your registered email address to request the closure of your account.
Frequently Asked Questions About IG
Is my money safe with IG?
Yes IG is considered safe, in part due to the authorisation from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK to serve as a stockbroker. Oversight from the FCA combined with its listing on the London Stock Exchange means it is widely regarded as a safe company.
Is IG a good broker?
Yes, I would happily describe IG as one of the better online brokers that cater to many different audiences at once. It successfully straddles the line between ultra-low-cost platforms like DEGIRO and online brokers like Hargreaves Lansdown that make their money on dealing fees. IG offers CFD trading, which also means it stands out among the growing number of robo-advisors platforms.
What is the minimum deposit for IG Trading?
The minimum deposit at IG is currently £250 by credit/debit card or PayPal. There is no minimum for bank transfers.
Antonia is the Financial Editor at InvestingReviews.co.uk and brings a wealth of experience, having written for various industries over the past 10 years.
Her investment platform reviews, news, blogs and guides are meticulously researched, fact checked, and updated on a regular basis.