The best stocks and shares ISAs on the market

There are many reasons why you might opt for a stocks and shares ISA. Firstly, you might be fed up with the poor returns from a standard savings account – after all the Bank of England interest rate is currently sitting at an all-time low of 0.5 per cent. Secondly, you might feel that while cash ISAs offer plenty of tax benefits, you’d prefer to either split your £15,000 ISA allowance (rising to £15,240 from 6th April 2015) between cash and stocks and shares, or invest the entire lot.

Whatever you decide, choosing the best stocks and shares ISAs on the market is a tricky decision. But it’s important to shop around to help keep your investment costs low and give you the best chance of yielding high returns. With this in mind, here are some ISAs you might want to consider.

Hargreaves Lansdown

If you want a Stocks and Shares ISA from a trusted and award winning company, then Hargreaves Lansdown might be the right option for you. Hargreaves Lansdown have won many awards for their ISAs in recent years, with ‘Best ISA Provider’ and ‘Best Direct Platform’ being just a couple on the list. With a ready-made ISA which leaves the day to day running of the account in the hands of leading fund managers, as well as a do-it-yourself version of the account where you take full control of any investment decisions on offer, there is something to suit every level of investor with Hargreaves Lansdown.

One customer said: “This is my first venture into a stocks and shares ISA. I needed something easy to understand and this fitted the bill perfectly.” Mr Hill, Bedford

ISAs from Nutmeg

Stocks and shares ISAs from multi-award winning company, Nutmeg, are highly sought after for many reasons. With this online management business, building up a diverse portfolio is incredibly easy as a team of financial experts will do all the hard work for you making decisions around your attitude to risk. You can set up your ISA in under 10 minutes by answering a few simple questions about your finances and the level of risk you’re comfortable with. And it’s all online so you can log in when you want to see how your ISA is performing, with its total value updated every weekday.

Moreover, with one simple fee between 0.3 per cent and 1 per cent, including VAT depending on how much you invest, you can rest assured you won’t be charged the earth. When Nutmeg invest your money they use exchange-traded funds to help keep fund costs (averaging 0.23% compared to 1.58% for UK active funds) and bid-offer spread (averaging just 0.09%) as low as possible.

Nutmeg has also just launched a personal pension. It’s worth noting that there is a minimum monthly fee of £9 for their pension to cover admin charges.

Here’s a selection of Nutmeg’s customer testimonials:

  • “I like how open and transparent Nutmeg is about what’s being charged.” Lynette, senior manager
  • “They give me absolute trust that they’re on top of my finances — as much as I would be if I was managing it.” Helen, managing director
  • “Nutmeg have taken away the burden of managing my money. I feel safe. With Nutmeg, I have an expert investment team.” Fergus, chartered accountant

Charles Stanley Direct

With so many financial services out there it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. This can make it difficult to choose a stocks and shares ISA that suits you, but with Charles Stanley Direct you can expect a service that’s reliable, transparent and notoriously affordable – after all, the company made a name for themselves within the financial world for slashing investment prices.

In short, they offer stocks and shares ISAs with no initial charges or additional annuals fees. Customers can enjoy financial advantages such as commission-free fund pricing and automatic “clean” conversion of fund transfers (where possible) coupled with the tax benefits of an ISA account. You pay only the annual platform fee and share dealing fees where applicable.

What’s more, with stocks and shares ISAs, there is no charge if six or more chargeable trades are placed in a six-monthly charging period which run from 1 April – 30 September and 1 October – 31st March. Otherwise you pay 0.25 per cent per annum on all share investments (excluding cash balance) held across all accounts (minimum £20, maximum £150 per annum), charges pro rata six-monthly in arrears.

Here’s what some of their customers had to say about the services offered:

  • “For ISA and Investment Accounts with regular contributions the 0.25% charge makes it an attractive proposition especially against the Hargreaves charge of 0.45%.”
  • “Charges are so low that investing with Charles Stanley Direct is typically the cheapest means of investing in popular funds.”
  • “The charges are very clear.”

Strawberry Invest

Strawberry Invest may be a relatively new kid on the block in comparison to large financial service companies, but their refreshing approach to do-it-yourself investing competes against discretionary management services like Nutmeg. In short, they encourage their clients to choose their own investments and watch them grow while providing all the tools necessary for them to do so.

With a clean interface and an enthusiastic social media presence, they’re sure to appeal to anyone looking to start their investment journey without fuss and without being boggled down by full-spectrum financial research thrown at them from every angle. An ISA can be opened in just five steps and with no start-up fees it’s possible to keep overheads as low as possible.

Here are some reviews of Strawberry Invest:

  • “Strawberry Invest has turned thrift into a virtue, with a simple and clean user interface that’s less intimidating to regular savers.”
  • “Provides a simple, low-cost way of investing.”
  • “Strawberry Invest is certainly for those who would like to start saving and investing, or for people who already invest online and would benefit by transferring to a lower cost and more straightforward platform.”
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