Finding a broker who provides both a comprehensive general investment account as well as a quality ISA and SIPP product isn’t easy. Too often, brokers prioritise tax-wrapper accounts over traditional investment and vice vera. IG Investments isn’t one of those trading platforms.
What makes IG different from other stockbrokers, and is IG any good? Keep reading for our full IG review.
Visit IG Investments
When you hold an account with IG Investments, you have the opportunity to use three main types of products:
- Stocks and Shares ISA
- General Investment
Under the general investment account, you can deal shares, buy ETFs, and participate in spread betting through CFDs and Forex. You get access to leveraged and unleveraged products. The general investment account is a valuable product and its 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).
In this review, we’ll focus primarily on IG’s ISA and SIPP products.
Finding a broker who offers all three account options is advantageous. If you haven’t already, it makes sense to use the tax-wrapper accounts first (the ISA and SIPP) and then sink leftover funds into your investment account after you reach your limit. When you keep your tax-efficient products on the same platform as your general investment account, then you only need to learn one system. Plus, as you’ll learn later, IG also offers a chance to practice more advanced skills within your ISA and SIPP. So, if you take the time to get to know the platform well, you can use it to your advantage across your accounts.
Research Services & Tools
Because IG Investments offers a comprehensive trading service beyond ISAs and SIPPs, you’d expect a greater array of research services and 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 to trade forex and CFD shares 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 tools than you’d find in a typical low-cost 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.
Beyond its informational archive, IG also offers the IG Academy. The IG Acadamy 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 labeled ‘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.
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-investor 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 into ISA vs. SIPP.
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
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 buy CFDs with this provider or any other that you take on a significant amount of 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 or SIPP. It’s not a platform choice: it’s the law.
IG Investments ISA Review
The IG ISA is open to UK residents with an account on the UK platform. Unlike many ISAs available through online providers, you have two IG account options:
- Share dealing ISA
- Ready-made IG Smart Portfolio
You make your selection prior to opening your account, and you can hold both ISAs if you choose. However, your annual tax-free limits will remain the same.
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 IG ISA comes in two forms: the IG Smart Portfolio and the share dealing ISA.
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.
What does the Share dealing ISA cost?
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 Investments SIPP Review
Just as IG offers two forms of stocks and shares ISA, it also offers two forms of SIPP. You can choose from a share dealing SIPP or the IG Smart Portfolio, which is a managed account.
When you open an IG SIPP, you can invest in a wide range of products compared to the typical online broker. These include:
- Stocks on recognised exchanges
- UCITS funds
- Fixed-income products
- Commercial property
IG SIPP fees are different for a reason: IG doesn’t administer its SIPP products. It serves solely as the stockbroker. Instead, you’re subject to the James Hay Modular Plan. As a result, James Hay sets the fees.
As a SIPP account holder, you will pay a £205 annual administrative fee in advance to James Hay. You may also pay investments a charge monthly in arrears. The monthly charge is as follows:
- £0-£300k – 0.25%
- £300,000-£399,999 – 0.20%
- £400,000-£499,999 – 0.15%
- £500,000-£1,499,000 – 0.05%
- £1,500,000 and over – 0.01%
You will also pay fees for:
- Income drawdown set up
- Annual income drawdown charges
- Review of income limits on capped drawdown
- Arranging annuity purchase
However, there are no deposit or withdrawal fees regardless of whether you use a debit card, credit card, or Paypal.
As mentioned in the Fees and Charges section, IG doesn’t administer its own SIPPs. IG serves as the broker only. So, you need to keep up with changes to James Hay’s service as well as any issues IG raises.
Opening an Account at IG
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 or SIPP once you have your IG account.
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 and SIPP accounts. 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.
If you want to transfer a SIPP account, you need to get in touch with IG directly.
IG aims to complete all transfers within 14 days of receiving the request. However, the timeframe depends on your current broker.
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.
However, the live chat function isn’t always available. In June 2020, it was down, likely as a result of the changes made to customer service teams during Covid-19.
We 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 2020). 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 experiences 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.
Despite new product launches like the Smart Portfolio, IG ultimately caters more for forex traders and those with active trading strategies than it does to new investors or those who are only interested in Stocks and Shares ISAs or SIPPs. 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.
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IG Investments FAQ
Who Owns IG Investments?
IG Investments is a private company founded in the UK in 1974. Today, it is part of the IG Group, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
How Safe is IG Investments?
IG has authorisation from the 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 its widely regarded as a safe company.
However, you want more than FCA regulation and protection from your broker.
IG also offers additional security by holding client funds in segregated accounts at regulated banks. Citibank serves as the custodian of its assets. That means if IG goes bust, your money is protected up to the amount you invested.
However, you should always remember that all investments of any type come with the risk of losing money.
How Do I Close my Account at IG Investments?
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 email@example.com from your registered email address to request the closure of your account.
If you don't have access to the email address linked to your account, you need to provide additional information to confirm you are the owner of the account. You'll need your:
- Postal address
- Phone number
- IG account balance
- Last four digits of registered cards
- Last market you traded
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.'
Is IG Investments any Good?
IG is a large broker and trading platform that caters to many different audiences at once. It successfully straddles the line between ultra-low-cost platforms like DEGIRO and brokers like Hargreaves Lansdown that make their money on dealing fees. IG provides CFD trading, which also means it stands out among the growing number of robo-advisors platforms.
No single review can answer whether IG is any good, but there are some indicators that you have the potential to grow your wealth using the site. Out of all the products, the Stocks and Shares ISA is the most highly lauded. IG's product won Best Stocks and Shares ISA provider from the Online Personal Wealth Awards in both 2019 and 2020.
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