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Hargreaves Lansdown named best all-round direct platform

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Hargreaves Lansdown has been named best all-round direct-to-consumer platform despite charging more than some of its competitors.

Hargreaves came out on top based on all elements of proposition, pricing and service, according to the study conducted by the lang cat, an independent pensions and investment consultancy. However, despite bagging the top accolade, praise for the platform was muted.

Mark Polson, principal of the lang cat, said: “The service offering is just as good as everyone says it is; there is always support on hand should you need it and the platform layout makes it easy to see your investments and manage them individually or collectively.

“This all costs however, and HL is rarely the cheapest option (although it is very well priced for drawdown), but that’s not what it’s about. In our experience, investors are willing to pay that premium for service and user experience. And others charge more for less.

“It’s not a perfect operation: the service isn’t always faultless and there are a couple of other aspects we don’t love, mainly around the Wealth 150 and exit charges. The fact that we are handing this award over despite those things should indicate that the rest of it is exceptional,” said Polson, who also highlighted the firms ancillary charges as a downside.

AJ Bell Youinvest was named as runner up in the all-rounder category. The lang cat said: “It offers a decent online experience and has the added option of commercial property (which HL does not offer) should this be on your investment wish list in a SIPP.

“Charges are reasonable for all but the smallest funds and very good higher up. We like the web chat facility and there’s a decent amount of content on the website. We think usability is ok albeit a bit samey, and the mobile app is similarly constrained. But at least it’s all there, and it works. We’d point out again that AJBYI’s SIPP pedigree is second to none, and that absolutely lifts it up beyond many of its rivals.”

The winners and runners-up in each category follow.


  • Winner: Hargreaves Lansdown
  • Runner Up: AJ Bell Youinvest


  • Winner: Retiready from Aegon
  • Runner Up: Hargreaves Lansdown
  • Honourable Mention: The Share Centre


  • Winner: Clubfinance
  • Runner Up: Interactive Investor


  • Winner: Charles Stanley Direct
  • Runner Up: TD Direct Investing


  • Winner: Alliance Trust Savings i.nvest
  • Runner Up: The Share Centre


  • Winner: Hargreaves Lansdown
  • Runner Up: AJ Bell Youinvest
  • Honourable Mention: Fidelity Personal Investing


  • Winner: True Potential Investor – impulseSave


  • Winner: True Potential Investor and Barclays Stockbrokers

The awards follow the release of the lang cat’s latest guide to direct platform investing, ‘Come and have a go too’.

The guide offers an overview of the platform market over the last year, an in-depth assessment of the top five direct platforms by assets under administration, and a guide to pricing across the sector. Click here to download the guide.


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