AJ Bell

review: is it any good?

Updated on
November 28, 2022

In a nutshell

One of the cheapest traditional brokers out there, with a good reputation and established history. The customer service is great and there’s a huge range of investment options. Overall, 5 stars from us.

Our rating

AJ Bell rated 5 stars
Nutty

AJ Bell

cracked open 🥥

AJ Bell is a very established broker (someone who buys and sells investments on your behalf). They’ve been around since 1995 and known for being low-cost – but are they really? We’ll find out.

They’re hugely popular, with over 400,000 customers totalling over £75 billion worth of investments. That’s a lot!

The range of investments is huge (that’s things like stocks and shares and investment funds). And they offer the whole range of investment accounts, from a general investment account to a pension (more on these later).

AJ Bell review

They also offer ready-made portfolios (a group of investments packaged together), for those people who just want to invest their money, without any of the hard work. We’ll look at these too.

So let’s dive in.

Is AJ Bell right for you?

Learn more about AJ Bell on their website.

Visit AJ Bell¹Visit AJ Bell¹

Is AJ Bell good for beginners?

Kind of. It’s not the easiest to use, and you’ll need to understand a little bit about investing to navigate the website and get started.

If you do know a little bit about investing, you should be fine with their website. And just a reminder, they are a broker, so there to buy and sell investments for you, not to choose or advise which investments you should buy.

AJ Bell markets

There are ready-made portfolios to choose from however, which you can find on their website – which means you don’t have to do much! But you should still manage these and check-in when you can, and they’re not necessarily the cheapest.

If you’re new to investing it’s probably best to let the experts handle everything for you, and go with a ready-made portfolio from AJ Bell, or check out some expert-managed investment platforms, such as Moneyfarm, their service is easy to use and has great customer service (here’s our Moneyfarm review). And for more options, check out our best investment platforms UK.

Investment account options

AJ Bell accounts
  • Dealing account: this is their standard account, technically called a General Investment Account (GIA). There’s no tax free benefits, it’s your bog-standard account that you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax on if you make profits of over £12,300 per year (across all your investments not inside an ISA).
  • Stocks & Shares ISA: everyone's favourite account. Invest up to £20,000 each year, and all your profit is tax-free, forever. Learn more about Stocks & Shares ISAs.
  • Stocks & Shares Lifetime ISA: if under 40 and saving for your first home, a LISA is for you. It’s tax-free, and you’ll get a 25% bonus from the government on whatever you put in, up to £4,000 per year. Learn more about Lifetime ISAs.
AJ Bell's Lifetime ISA (LISA)
  • Junior ISA: if you’ve got kids, you can invest up to £9,000 per child every year, all in their name, and all tax-free. Learn more about Junior ISAs.
AJ Bell's Junior ISA
  • Pension (SIPP): you can open a personal pension and have full control over where your money is invested. You’ll also get 20-45% government bonus too as an incentive to save for your retirement (the amount depends on how much tax you’ve paid). If you’re looking to boost your retirement income, but prefer the experts to handle it, check out PensionBee (here’s our PensionBee review), and our best private pension providers UK.
AJ Bell's SIPP
  • Cash savings account: you can also just save cash and get interest in return. They’ll scan the market to find the best interest rates out there. Pretty clever right?

Investments not available with AJ Bell

CFDs

CFDs (‘contract for differences’) are suited for advanced traders, and AJ Bell doesn't offer CFD trading.

It’s a type of trading where you don’t purchase the asset itself (such as a stock), but you enter into an agreement with a broker about the direction of the price, so the price going up or going down in the future, and then you settle the difference between the price when you want to sell and todays price.

If you’re interested in CFD trading, check out eToro¹. Here’s our eToro review UK to learn more.

Crypto

AJ Bell are very traditional, and so don’t offer crypto (cryptocurrencies) either. Crypto has been a very good investment for some people, and could be for you, however it’s very volatile (meaning the price can change drastically over a short period of time), and so can result in losing money too.

AJ Bell doesn't do crypto trading

If you’re looking to invest in crypto, here’s the best crypto exchanges UK, and here’s how to buy bitcoin and how to buy ethereum.

How much is AJ Bell?

It’s one of the cheapest brokers out there! As with most brokers, you’ll pay an account fee, and then fees when you make a trade (buy and sell an investment). Let’s run through the details.

Account costs

Setting up an account is free, and there’s no charge for holding cash in your account. However, there are other fees which do add up.

You’ll pay a fee of 0.25% on the total of your investments within your account (and reduces with the more money you have). This is for all account types, such as a Stocks & Shares ISA or a pension (SIPP). More on this fee and investment types below.

For comparison, the biggest traditional broker, Hargreaves Lansdown, has fees starting at 0.45% (and decrease) as an account fee (of the total value of your investments).

Share fees

For shares, you’ll pay the account fee of 0.25% of the value of the shares within your account, but only up to a maximum of £3.50 per month (so a maximum charge of £42 per year).

And when you buy shares, you’ll also pay a fee for each deal (buying or selling). It starts at £9.95 per deal, and reduces to £4.95 when you make 10 or more deals in the previous month.

Number of deals Cost
0 - 9 £9.95
10+ £4.95

It’s typical for more traditional brokers, like AJ Bell, to charge a fee for each deal, often called a ‘share dealing fee’. However, with more modern brokers that focus on regular trading, such as eToro, trading can be free (commission free).

Investment fund fees

You’ll pay a fee to hold investment funds within your account (a group of investments packaged together), such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Which is:

Money within a fund Charge
Up to £250,000 0.25%
£250,001 to £500,000 0.10%
£500,000+ 0%

AJ Bell's ETFs

You’ll also pay fees to the investment funds themselves, often called a management fee, this isn’t a fee AJ Bell charges, unless it’s their own fund. So the cost varies across the different funds, but expect to pay around 0.20% per year, but can be much higher. It’s taken from the money you invested within the fund automatically, so you often won’t notice (it’s a hidden fee).

Another common hidden fee when you buy and sell investments is a ‘spread fee’. This is the difference between the price you pay for an investment and the value of it immediately after you purchase (the price you’ll get if you immediately sold it). This is around 0.07% for investment funds. You’ll pay this wherever you buy investments, not just with AJ Bell.

AJ Bell's spread fee

Customer support

The customer support is great. They have a phone line where you can speak to someone. Pretty rare for any investment business these days!

There’s also live-chat, where you can speak to someone on their website too. And, if you’ve got a bit more time to wait, you can email.

Is AJ Bell safe?

Yep! Completely safe.

As it’s a broker, it’s regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). That means it’s trusted and has been approved to look after your money.

Money held with AJ Bell is also protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FCSC). Which means if something should happen to AJ Bell (highly unlikely), such as going out of business, you’ll get up to £85,000 back. And on top of that, your money is actually held in a separate bank account that AJ Bell cannot access, it can only be returned to you.

AJ Bell customer reviews

It’s very popular, and on Trustpilot, the reviews website, it has a rating of 4.6 / 5, from over 2,000 reviews. Which is excellent – especially for a company in financial services. These tend to get very low scores, mostly because they treat their customers very poorly. But AJ Bell is bucking the trend, with great customer service.

AJ Bell's Trustpilot rating

It’s won a lot of awards too – and quite a few over the last few years. Mostly notably, ‘Recommended provider’ for investment platforms, by Which? In 2022. Good work!

Our thoughts

We like AJ Bell, it’s super trustworthy and has a great history of serving customers well.

It’s one of the cheapest traditional brokers out there, but there are cheaper options with more modern trading apps and platforms that are commission free (such as eToro and Freetrade), however you’ll only really benefit if you trade a lot.

AJ Bell also has a good website and phone app to make trades, track your trades and portfolio. Alongside options to research companies and get more investing information.

And there’s a huge range of investments available, and the full range of account options – from a general account to a pension, so there’s pretty much everything you’d want from a broker!

So, overall, we think it’s pretty great. It’s a big 5 stars from us. Learn more and get started on the AJ Bell website.

Is AJ Bell right for you?

Learn more about AJ Bell on their website.

Visit AJ Bell¹Visit AJ Bell¹

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