In this interactive investor review, I have personally tested every corner of the platform in order to provide you with an accurate and unbiased account of what to expect from the award-winning investment platform. Read on to find out why this is one of my top picks for investors with a substantial portfolio who like to manage their own investments
interactive investor, also known as ii.co.uk, is a top, execution-only, investment service in the UK. interactive investor have you covered with a full suite of products for typical UK investors including ISA, SIPP, Share Dealing, Fund Investing, CFDs, and even IPOs.
In 2019 ii introduced a new and easy-to-understand flat fee structure for trading, including a certain number of free trades within the monthly fee. Over the long term, lower fees have a huge impact on your portfolio, and interactive investor’s fee structure is great for larger portfolios so I am a big fan of this.
Like everyone else, ii have a mobile trading app for android and ios (iPhone/iPad) and a web-based trading platform that works on Mac and Windows.
interactive investor also provide 24 hour Monday to Friday customer support via their trading platform as well as a very active discussion forum for those that want to debate their investing decisions or look for inspiration for the next trade. The interactive investor forum is one of the most comprehensive forums available, largely due to the closure of one of their big rivals, the Motley Fool.
interactive investor have recently acquired The Share Centre, making them one of the largest investment platforms on the market with over £30bn of investments.
In 2019 alone, interactive investor have won awards such as Best ISA Provider, Best SIPP Provider, and Best Low-Cost Stockbroker, and in 2020 they have continued to win awards including Best Low-Cost Stockbroker 2020, and Best Fund Platform. While I take a steer from 3rd party awards, this interactive investor review will still be based on my own experiences and observations.
Read on to find out why interactive investor is one of my top picks for an investment platform.
Who is interactive investor?
interactive investor is a privately owned limited liability company called interactive investor Services Ltd. It is 100% equity funded with no debt and net assets over 100 million and includes large key shareholders such as J.C. Flowers & Co. In 2019 interactive investor acquired Alliance Trust Savings resulting in the merge of two of the largest fixed-price retail investment platforms. This makes interactive investor the second biggest investing platform in the UK after Hargreaves Lansdown.
Who owns interactive investor?
interactive investor is majority-owned by funds advised by J.C. Flowers & Co. Flowers & Co is a private equity firm and investment adviser for investment funds.
Product Range Overview
A breakdown of the products available on the interactive investor platform is listed below and as you can see it is a very comprehensive list that covers everything the average UK investor will need.
The interactive investor’s Trading Account, which is focused on Investment Products include:
- Stocks & Shares
- ETFs (Share ETFs and Index ETFs)
- Investment Trusts
- Investment Funds
- Bonds & Gilts
- Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs)
- Spread Betting (called Spread Trading on the platform)
- Contracts for Difference (CFDs)
- FX Trading
ISA & SIPP
- Stocks and Shares ISA
- Junior Cash ISA
- Junior Stocks and Shares ISA
- Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP)
Quick Start Funds
A great place to start for new investors, interactive investor’s expertly chosen, ready-made, global portfolios that include three passively managed funds from Vanguard and three actively managed funds from BMO (Global Asset Management). Interactive Investor’s Quick Start Funds also provide new investors with plenty of information on how to make an informed decision when choosing their fund and claim that these are some of the most competitively priced funds on the market. It is also worth mentioning that the BMO funds give investors the opportunity to invest with ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles.
The BMO portfolios are split into three funds, Cautious, Balanced and Growth. These can be matched to your risk profile and are designed to grow your wealth for three or more years. The charges for the six above mentioned funds are as follows:
- 0.28% for the LifeStrategy® 20% equity fund
- 0.27% for the LifeStrategy® 60% equity fund
- 0.27% for the LifeStrategy® 80% equity fund
- 0.35% for the BMO Sustainable Universal MAP Cautious fund
- 0.35% for the BMO Sustainable Universal MAP Balanced fund
- 0.35% for the BMO Sustainable Universal MAP Growth fund
ii Super 60
In direct competition with the Hargreaves Lansdown Wealth 50 list, ii have introduced their Super 60 list of active and passive funds, investment trusts, and ETFs. The Super 60 are split into the following asset groups:
- Super 60 Equities
- Super 60 Fixed Income
- Super 60 Alternatives
I liked it that ii were happy to go into some detail on their website as to the recent performance of these investments and it certainly seems that they managed to maintain positive returns despite the upheaval to the market caused by the COVID pandemic.
ii ACE 40
ii claim that their ACE 40 list is the UK’s first rated list of ethical investments, all neatly placed into one of three styles to make ethical investing as straightforward as possible. Ethical investing is currently gaining momentum, as more and more customers look to invest in line with their values, however, it is also fast becoming a profitable way to invest as ‘green companies’ start outperforming their less ethical counterparts.
ii have plenty of information on their website, as well as asset types and a host of informative articles that can help make ethical investing as quick and easy as possible.
ii have launched four model portfolios to help make investing easier and offer growth or income options. I Iliked it that ii are so transparent with these portfolios, even for people who don’t hold an account with ii. The four portfolios are as follows:
- Active Growth – 10 actively managed funds and trusts
- Active Income – 10 high yielding, actively managed funds and trust
- Low-cost Growth – 9 low-cost tracker funds and ETFs
- Low-cost Income – 9 low-cost, high yielding tracker funds and ETFs
interactive investor ISA Review
Interactive investor’s ISA account allows you to maximise your annual allowance (£20,000 2021-22 tax year) making it simple to maintain a stocks and shares ISA tax free. Trading in your shares ISA is covered under your monthly fee so this pricing structure is simple and transparent. It is free to transfer your shares ISA to interactive investor and also free to transfer your shares ISA to another broker in the UK if you want.
Depending on your confidence level there are two ways you can approach creating your ISA portfolio, for the DIY investor you can just start picking and choosing yourself or for those who need some inspiration, interactive investor have a range of options to help their customers including:
- Quick Start funds where you can choose from 3 different Vanguard portfolios
- ii Super 60 Investments a range of investment choices (picked by a panel of experts) ranked by category with a simple to use screener to help you narrow your selection
- Model Portfolios organised by investment goals to help you create a suitable portfolio that meets your needs.
From a cost perspective, interactive investor’s ISA performs extremely well against the big UK brands and it has also been rated as excellent on TrustPilot scoring 4.7 out of 5 stars. The interactive investor ISA was also named Best ISA Provider at the 2019 City of London Wealth Management Awards. Opening an ISA account with interactive investor takes less than 10 minutes after which you can enjoy your maximum allowance of tax free investments.
The only negative I came across whilst conducting our review of the interactive investor ISA account was that there is a charge of £7.99 on fund switches, however, this can effectively be reduced with an upgraded service plan.
interactive investor Junior ISA
Anyone with parental responsibility for a child can open a Junior ISA account with interactive investor and create a tax free way to invest for a child’s future. Contributions to the account can be made by anyone including grandparents and friends although all contributions will count towards the annual allowance as set by the government of £9,000 for the 2020-21 tax year. In order to start a junior ISA with interactive investor you can deposit any lump sum or a minimum of £25 per month, which is equal to rivals such as Hargreaves Lansdown.
Once the child on the account reaches the age of 18, interactive investor will automatically convert the Junior ISA account to an adult ISA at which time the child will have full access to any money held within.
interactive investor SIPP Review
A SIPP is a “Self Invested Pension Plan” which is a fancy way of saying DIY Pension. ISA and SIPP go hand in hand at interactive investor and how you manage them is practically the same. Interactive investor’s SIPP allows you to deposit money tax free in order to invest for your retirement. Low cost fees are key to helping improve the return of any investment, particularly a pension, so it makes sense to compare your current fees to what interactive investor charges to make sure you have the best possible set-up.
It’s super easy and free to transfer your SIPP to Interactive Investor and on the flip side should you ever choose to leave it’s just as easy and just as free to transfer your SIPP to another broker.
interactive investor’s SIPP does incur an additional charge of £10 per month inclusive of VAT, however, as mentioned above, this charge is being waived for the first 6 months of your SIPP being opened, regardless if you are an existing interactive investor customer or new to the platform.
Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP admin fee for 6 months, saving you £60 – terms apply.
interactive investor list well over 40,000 global shares, ETFs and Funds, covering UK, EU, US and the rest of the world, on 17 exchanges and across 9 different currencies. So the bottom line is they have everything the typical investor could need.
What I particularly like about their Trading account is that all shares are stored in the same interactive investor share dealing account, and you can control when currencies are converted which minimises currency exchange costs and even allows currency hedging.
Note: If you want to buy US listed shares you need to complete a W-8 Form (due to US regulations) which is very simple to complete and if the account is in your own personal name then the form can be completed digitally online through the investment platform.
Pricing for the interactive investor share dealing account is dependent on your subscription package and when we compare to the major competitors interactive investor is the one of the most competitive in the market allowing customers to get started for only £9.99 a month.
interactive investor Free Research Account
I loved interactive investor’s free Research Account. It is a perfect place for novice investors to create a virtual portfolio and track funds, shares, and trusts before risking any of their money. This account also provides customers access to discussions and newsletters to help further their investment knowledge.
Interactive investor Joint Trading Account
interactive investor also offer a joint account, whereby two named account holders both have equal access to any money held within the account and both parties can trade shares, investment trusts, ETF trades and more. The joint account has a flat fee of £9.99 per month and is a perfect option for couples who like to manage their money in multiple currencies.
interactive investor Company Account
With a Company Account traders can access trading in the name of a UK limited company with exactly the same benefits that are available with the ii Trading Account. This offering helps interactive investor stand out from the crowded marketplace as an investment service, as they are one of the only platforms to offer this. A Company Trading Account can be actively managed by up to four people.
interactive investor Pension Trading Account
The Pension Trading account at interactive investor, provides investments in assets such as property that are not available within the regular SIPP. Investors can set up this account in association with a SIPP.
interactive investor Offers
interactive investor offer various bonuses to new and existing account holders which can help save you money. Currently interactive investor offer new and existing customers six months of zero fees when they open a new SIPP, worth £60 in value.
Earlier last year, another of interactive investor offers was £100 cashback for ISA transfers and £100 worth of trades free to new customers. Whilst these two interactive investor offers have expired, it is always worth keeping an eye on their website for new promotions.
interactive investor Platform Review
With interactive investor, you can manage all your investments using their web based platform or their ii investing app on tablet or mobile.
Web Trading Platform
As you would expect from one of the UKs leading investment platforms, interactive investor have a well designed and easy to use Web Trading Platform. This requires a two-step authentication but only if you are logging on from a new device, any subsequent logins only require your password.
The web trading platform allows users to set alerts and notifications on price movements and these are delivered via email or text. There is also a comprehensive search function that allows you to search by typing in a company’s name, an assets ticker or investment types or markets.
Interactive Investor App: Mobile Trading Platform
Interactive investor’s app (mobile platform) has a solid 4.4 out of 5 stars rating on the app store as generally users find it to be easy-to-use with well laid out design for managing all your investments. Unfortunately the ii app did experience quite a few teething problems when first launched, however, interactive investor seem to have most of these ironed out. I did find that there was a lack of advanced charting tools and customisable trading tools that experienced traders might find useful, however, you can still perform the following functions:
- Share, ETFs and Fund trading
- Portfolio overview and management
- Including your ISA, SIPP, JISA and trading account
- Create and manage your watch lists and curate newsfeed
- Access to customer service
- Easy login via fingerprint and face-recognition
interactive investor Research Tools Review
A whole suite of research tools are provided to customers to use, for making investing and share dealing decisions.
Interactive Investor has a more than adequate watch list for the typical investor, however, there are definitely better ones out there for more seasoned traders.
For those interested in charting, everything is provided through an integration with MorningStar which is great for fundamental analysis but necessarily known for its technical analysis. With 11 different technical indicators to choose from the basics are covered. Charting functionality such as drawing and marking-up aren’t possible.
Here at investingreviews.co.uk we prefer the long term view of fundamental analysis so don’t see this as a major drawback. However for those where technical analysis is important this is key to keep in mind.
Through an integration with Recognia there are preset markups of the common technical patterns and a screener available for use.
interactive investor Fees and Charges Review
In 2019 interactive investor introduced a new and improved charging structure for customers, depending on the type of investor plan you choose between the three on offer. Moving away from more traditional quarterly fees or annual fees, interactive investor have moved to a monthly fee.
There are three subscription packages available, each investor plan enables a series of “free trades” in a month but realistically it’s a credit against trading fees. The “free” trades expire after 90 days, so keep this in mind when choosing your package as it could be cheaper to just take the basic package if after a while you won’t be trading as frequently. Keep in mind that while the “Super Investor” fee of £3.99 for UK trades is extremely low the basic fee of £7.99 for UK Shares is also very low.
interactive investor vs Hargreaves Lansdown
To give you a better example of how their charging structure stands up, I compared their trading fees to their nearest competitor, Hargreaves Lansdown. For the Super Investor plan it is worth remembering that there is a flat fee of £19.99.
|Hargreaves Lansdown||interactive investor|
|Share Trading 0-9 deals/mth||£11.95||£7.99 (investor plan)|
|Share Trading 10-19 deals/mth||£8.95||£3.99 (super investor plan)|
|Share Trading 20+ deals/mth||£5.95||£3.99 (super investor plan)|
|Annual Custody Fee £0-£250k||0.45%||£119.88 (investor plan)|
To put this into perspective, on a £30,000 portfolio size you would pay £119.80 at interactive investor and £278.40 at Hargreaves Lansdown per annum, should you place one trade per month. This makes interactive investor’s charging structure significantly better value for share dealing than Hargreaves Lansdown.
As you can see from the table below, the three packages are broken down into “Investor” service plan (at £9.99 per month) is the base package, “funds fan” service plan (at £13.99 per month) gets you cheaper fund and investment trust fees and “Super Investor” service plan (at £19.99 per month) gets you cheaper trading fee on all the different shares, ETFs and Fund types.
What I really like on every package is that the charging for Dividend Reinvestment and Regular Investment fees are low for all traders at £0.99, this in our view is fantastic and will have a huge impact on your long-term returns.
“Investor Plan” Fees
- Monthly Charge: £9.99
- UK Share trades & ETF Trades: £7.99 per trade
- Fund trades and Investment Trusts: £7.99 per trade
- US Share Trades: £7.99
- Other International Shares: £19.99
- Dividend Reinvestment: Free
- Regular Investment: Free
- Free Trades Per Month from the trading credit: 1
“Funds Fan” Fees
- Funds Fan Monthly Charge: £13.99
- UK Share trades & ETFs: £7.99 per trade
- Fund trades and Investment Trusts: £3.99 per trade
- US Share Trades: £7.99
- Other International Shares: £19.99
- Dividend Reinvestment: Free
- Regular Investment: Free
- Free Trades Per Month from the trading credit: 2 Free Funds or Investment Trades
The Funds Fan account is currently offering six months FREE when you open a new SIPP.
“Super Investor” Fees
- Monthly Charge: £19.99
- UK Share trades & ETFs: £3. 99 per trade
- Fund trades and Investment Trusts: £3. 99 per trade
- US Share Trades: £4. 99 per trade
- Other International Shares: £9. 99 per trade
- Dividend Reinvestment: Free
- Regular Investment: Free
- Free Trades Per Month from the trading credit: 2 Free UK trades
The Super Investor plan is currently offering six months FREE when you open a new SIPP.
Interactive investor’s Super Investor plan offers the lowest trading commissions meaning your funds will go further. For people who make regular investments, Super Investor is the cheapest option and also includes free daily updates and newsletters.
interactive investor Guide to Opening an Account
Whilst conducting this interactive investor review I found opening an account to be pretty straight forward. Like opening any trading or share dealing account you will need certain paperwork before you start, so make sure you have the following to hand;
- Proof of Identity – such as passport or driving license
- Proof of address – recent utility bill or bank statement
Also as per the Financial Conduct Authority regulations you will need to complete a short questionnaire called a “suitability test”. This will help interactive investor understand the level of experience you have with trading and investing. It’s pretty straightforward but does take a couple of minutes.
Once you have done that your application will be reviewed and approved, while you wait you have access to the platform but will not be able to trade until approved. This is the perfect time to utilise their free Research Account and create a virtual portfolio.
Funding your account is very straightforward. You can use your debit card, bank transfer and even cheque. If you already have an interactive investor account you can do an inter-account transfer as well from within the platform.
interactive investor Guide to Transferring Your Investments
You can transfer the following investments into your interactive investor account:
- Investment accounts
- Stocks and Shares ISAs
- Cash ISAs
- Investment Trusts
- Unit Trusts
This is all managed from within the platform (click “cash & transfers” and then “transfers in”), just choose your broker, print and sign the paperwork and send to interactive investor. They will then do the hard work and keep you updated. As always this can take a while (a few weeks), if your portfolio is small/simple it might be worth considering selling on your old broker and buying again on the interactive investor platform to speed up the process. It’s not the right strategy for everyone but does work.
Before you transfer funds to interactive investor it is worth checking if there are any exit fees with your current provider.
interactive investor Customer Service Review
Customer service and trade support is offered via the platform live chat, via email or over the phone.
Whilst conducting this interactive investor review I found the waiting time on the phone was less than a few minutes, emails were answered within an hour and the live chat was instant.
Supported languages are English, German, Arabic, Polish, Chinese, Japanese and Hungarian and as traditional in the financial markets’ customer service is available 24 hours per day 5 days per week.
How do I contact interactive investor?
Telephone from the UK: 0345 607 6001
Phoning from overseas: +44 113 346 2309
For existing customers you can also log into the platform and app and go to “account > secure messages”
Who is interactive investor Suitable For?
This is a key question you should be asking yourself. In our view the typical UK investor is in very safe hands with interactive investor (ii) this includes people with tax free ISA and SIPP accounts, investors who want to invest on a regular automated basis, have a portfolio of 70% UK stocks, want to invest in ETFs and Funds or have a lump sum to invest.
With their low fees, comprehensive product range, solid customer support and easy to use investment platform, Interactive Investor has everything your normal UK investor needs.
I found interactive investor best suited to DIY investors with a significant portfolio who would benefit from the cost-effectiveness of a fixed fee rather than a percentage of portfolio and who would be able to take advantage of the wide range of share dealing available. For investors who make regular trades, interactive investor’s Super Investor plan offers excellent value.
It is wise to remember that the value of your investments can go up as well as down and you may not get back the amount of money you originally invested.
Is interactive investor any good?
Short answer is Yes. For the typical UK investor who wants to invest in an ISA, SIPP, ETFs, Investment Trusts or Stocks and Shares then interactive investor is very good. With a low fee structure and full product range, interactive investor is an investment service that has you covered.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I withdraw my money from interactive investor?
Traders can withdraw their money from their interactive investor account by logging on and selecting the Cash and Transfers tab followed by ‘Withdraw/Transfer Cash’.
How do I close my account at interactive investor?
To close your account you need to contact customer support who will help you with the transfer of your money to another broker. You also need to be careful if you are leaving the UK as your eligibility for tax wrappers such as ISAs and SIPPs could change.
Is interactive investor safe?
Yes, very safe. Your investments and money are held in segregated trust accounts and kept separate from the money of interactive investor. As such if something should happen to interactive investor your money is safe.
It is important to remember that the value of your investments can go down as well as up and there is no guarantee that you will get back what you originally invested.
What is the cost per month to trade with interactive investor?
The basic account fee is £9 99 per month, however you will need to factor in the cost per trade to get an accurate idea of how much trading at interactive investor will cost you.
What happens if interactive investor goes bust?
All money deposited into interactive investor is held in a nominee account and holds Trust status which means that should interactive investor go bust for any reason, they will not be able to touch your money. interactive investor also spread client money among a number of different banks to avoid issues should one bank go out of business. The bottom line is that your money is completely safe, regardless of what happens to interactive investor in the future.
interactive investor is also authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as well as being regulated by the top tier FCA which means should the company go bust for any reason, you could be eligible for up to £85,000 of investor protection.
Does Interactive Investor have an app?
Yes they do. It’s one of the best investment apps for trading stocks and shares and has a 4.4 out of 5 stars rating on the app store.