This article was updated on January 3, 2021
Barclays Smart Investor Review – is this a good solution in 2021? That will be the topic of this article.
It will discuss some of the pros and cons of the platform, and ask if you should invest.
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For those that prefer video content, I have summarised the article below in this video:
Who are Barclays?
Barclays are one of the biggest banks in the UK, who also have wealth management services.
The bank is listed on the UK stock market (the FTSE 100) and also have an international presence.
They are involved in wealth management as well as banking services and the Smart Investor is just the latest offering from their suite of products and services in this space.
What are some of the features of this platform?
The main options available on this platform are:
1.Investment ISAs – You can take advantage of your 20,000GBP allowance with this option
2.Investment Account – This option is often used by people that have used up their 20,000GBP ISA limit.
3. SIPP account – A SIPP account allows the account holder to take control over their private pension. However, this means you are making the investment decisions and this comes with risks if you aren’t a professional.
What are the costs?
The main fees are:
- Customer fees – 0.2% on Unit Trusts and open ended investment companies. 0.1% on most types of investment with a minimum of 4GBP in monthly fees. The maximum fee is capped at 125GBP a month.
- Transaction fee – when you buy or sell an investment it costs 3-6GBP online, depending on the type of investment and 25GBP by phone.
According to the Barclays website, if you have a 24,000GBP account, you will pay fees totaling 110GBP, or about 0.4%.
What are the positives about this platform?
The best things about the Barclays platform is:
- It is clean and easy to use in terms of the technology these days.
- There are no minimums and the fees are competitive.
- It is fine for beginner investors living in the UK who have relatively small portfolios.
- It is tax-efficient if you take advantage of the ISA feature. On the SIPP side, you also can claim tax relief on contributions of up to £40,000.
- It is fine for trading UK shares.
What are the negatives about this platform?
- There are a lot of complaints about the service from customers online.
- Some customers say it is hard to find specific ETFs online.
- It is an “off the shelf” option. Therefore, the more specific your financial planning requirements, the less useful this will be. For example, if you are an expat with very complicated tax and financial planning requirements, and you only spend half the year in the UK and the other half outside the country, this is unlikely to be the best option for your needs. It isn’t bad for beginner investors with smaller portfolios, however.
- It is only available to UK residents so isn’t a great option for those living outside of the UK, or for that matter, planning to emigrate.
- In general, banks are better as banks, and not as investment platforms.
- Barclays are largely trading on brand name – especially customers feeling safe by going with such a big name.
- Most DIY investors don’t perform well relative to the market due to trading on emotions. This is especially a problem with the SIPP accounts.
- There are quite a lot of complaints online about this platform. Whilst that is inevitable with a larger company, a lot of the comments seem to indicate most people are treated like customer number 11,122 for Barclays.
- When Barclays rolled out the service, there were countless issues and many customers left. They do appear to have sorted out some of these things though.
- Barclays has limited investment choices. They no longer offer overseas stocks or more complicated investments.
This is a decent option for UK, smaller investors, that want a ready-made solution.
It isn’t as good for UK expats, people with larger portfolios and those with very specific needs and requirements.
The recent stock market falls , and general volatility in March 2020, would have been a huge tests for investors in this platform.
This shows that the platform you use, whether Barclays or another one, is less important than investor behaviour.
Those that panic when markets are down, tend to not succeed long-term, compared to those that don’t.
The article below asks a very simple question. Do you need to have a large portfolio to get rich investing?