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AJ Bell Review

Elizabeth Anderson

Written by Elizabeth Anderson
Fact-checked by Steven Hatzakis
Edited by Carolyn Kimball

January 19, 2024

Your capital is at risk.

You can invest in an extensive range of investments through AJ Bell. Charges are on the high side for those with large portfolios in mutual funds and those looking to execute one-off share deals. However its new app, called Dodl, offers much lower fees and also offers a more slim-lined and user-friendly service. AJ Bell has a great range of educational and research material and also offers ready-made portfolios for those who don’t want to manage their own.

One of the U.K.’s biggest DIY investment platforms, AJ Bell offers Lifetime ISAs and Junior SIPPs, in addition to general dealing accounts, ISAs and adult SIPPs.

AJ Bell
4.5/5 Stars Overall
  • Minimum Deposit: £0.0
  • ISA: Yes
  • SIPP: Yes

AJ Bell pros & cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • Great range of accounts and investment choices
  • Great customer service - easy to contact on the phone
  • New Dodl app offers much lower fees

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • Expensive for those with larger fund portfolios
  • Chart tools are basic for more sophisticated traders

Overall summary

Feature AJ Bell logoAJ Bell
Overall Rating 4.5/5 Stars
Charges & Fees 4/5 Stars
Investment Choices 5/5 Stars
Mobile App 4.5/5 Stars
Website 5/5 Stars
Ease of Use 4.5/5 Stars
Education 5/5 Stars

Charges and fees

AJ Bell charges a percentage of your investments to hold your money if you hold mutual funds, a fee model that’s common among investment platforms. AJ Bell charges 0.25% on funds up to £250,000, with the percentage fee dropping to 0.10% on amounts between £250,000 and £500,000. There are no custody charges on amounts above £500,000. The fees are cheaper than rival Hargreaves Lansdown, which charges 0.45% and only drops to zero on amounts above £2M.

This means the most you’ll pay per year in custody charges for funds is £875 if you have investments above £500,000. However, there is an additional charge of £3.50 a month if you hold shares through AJ Bell (or 0.25%, whichever is lower), so the total could be £917.

If you have a portfolio worth £500,000, you’d likely be much better off with a platform that charges a flat fee. Halifax, for example, charges £36 a year and Interactive Investor charges £143.88 a year. But for those with small portfolios AJ Bell can offer good value. For example, with a portfolio of £5,000 you’d pay annual charges of £12.50.

AJ Bell charges £1.50 per mutual fund trade, although this fee is reduced to zero if you invest in an AJ Bell fund.

Fees to buy and sell stocks, investment trusts, bonds and ETFs are high at £9.95 per trade, although this is reduced to £4.95 if you trade more than 10 times a month and to £1.50 if you invest in the same asset each month. AJ Bell works out cheap in terms of management fees if you only hold ETFs or stocks. Annual custody charges for shares, ETFs and investment trusts are capped at £42.

AJ Bell recently launched an app-only investment platform called Dodl, which comes with lower charges. The annual management fee is 0.15%, the same as low-cost provider Vanguard, although there is a £1 minimum monthly fee. There are no fees for buying and selling shares – so it works out much cheaper than going through AJ Bell’s main platform.

Scenario pricing: When calculating annual share dealing costs, trading frequency and account balance are the two most important factors to consider. Assuming a £30,000 portfolio in a traditional, taxable share dealing account, here are four scenarios of how much AJ Bell would cost based on trade frequency:

  • 5 trades per year = £91.75
  • 12 trades per year = £161.4
  • 36 trades per year = £400.2
  • 120 trades per year = £1236
  • 3 fund trades per year = £79.5
Feature AJ Bell logoAJ Bell
Minimum Deposit info £0.0
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month info £9.95
Share Trading: 10-19 Deals/ Month info £4.95
Share Trading: 20+ Deals/ Month info £4.95
Annual Custody Fee: £0 - £250,000 info £0 - £625
Annual Custody Fee: £250K-£500K info £625 - £875
Annual Custody Fee: £500,000 - £1m info £875
Annual Custody Fee: £1m and over info £875
Bonds - Corporate - Fee info £9.95
Bonds - Government (Gilts) - Fee info £9.95
ETFs - Fee info £9.95
Investment Trusts - Fee info £9.95
Telephone Dealing Fee info £29.95
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query_stats What type of trader are you?

Our guides can help you choose the right broker for you and the way you trade: whether you consider yourself an investing beginner, a more experienced active trader, or a mobile-first trading enthusiast.

Mobile trading apps

In my testing, I found AJ Bell’s main mobile app simple to use although fairly basic in design and features. Nevertheless, it’s easy to buy and sell holdings and to see your investments in one place. Tapping on ‘Portfolio X-Ray’ at the top of the screen will take you to a detailed summary of your portfolio allocations, although it’s in PDF format and I didn’t find it particularly easy to read.

The main app is separate to AJ Bell’s Dodl app; you’ll need to register for both and create a separate account if you want to access both. The Dodl app is very much aimed at beginner investors, offering just three investment ranges — AJ Bell funds, themed investments and shares — with a one-sentence description of each. Themed investments include sectors such as ‘robo revolution’, where you can invest in a fund that invests in robotics companies worldwide. Despite being more basic, I found Dodl much simpler and more interesting to use than AJ Bell’s main app.

Tap for a demo of AJ Bell's U.K. trading app.

Website

The AJ Bell website is very detailed, offering lots of information on account opening and management, news and insights and investment tools.

When you log into the website you are taken to your account summary, along with a chart showing the daily performance of the FTSE 100. There are also various links to investment news and videos.

Once in your account, you can see a pie chart showing the allocations of your current portfolio and you can create a watch list of stocks and funds you would like to monitor. Share prices are delayed by 15 minutes, but you can select the ‘real-time’ switch to see live prices.

I found some of AJ Bell’s charting tools to be quite useful, such as the ability to compare two stocks on a single chart, or to compare the performance of a fund or stock against an index such as the FTSE 100. For more experienced investors looking to use charts to analyse historical trends, brokers including eToro and Interactive Brokers offer better charting tools and indicators.

Feature AJ Bell logoAJ Bell
Web Platform info Yes
iPhone App info Yes
Android App info Yes
Stock Alerts info Yes
Charting - Indicators / Studies info 0
Charting - Drawing Tools info 8
Charting - Notes info No
Charting - Display Corporate Events info Yes
Charting - Stock Overlays info Yes
Charting - Index Overlays info Yes

Investment choices

The range of investments available through AJ Bell includes more than 2,000 funds and shares across 25 markets, and 450 investment trusts. This is fewer than other platforms but is still all most investors would need.

AJ Bell’s ‘favourite funds’ list helps to make diversification easier for novice or unconfident investors by picking funds it thinks are most likely to provide you with an income or with long-term growth. You can filter by fund type, fund sector or investment goal.

AJ Bell offers corporate bonds or gilts but only by calling (0345 54 32 600). You can't buy or sell bonds online or through the mobile app.

AJ Bell is one of just a few investment platforms to offer Lifetime ISAs (LISAs) for first-time buyers or people looking for a pension alternative. Its fees are very competitive for LISAs, charging 0.15% through Dodl or 0.25% through its AJ Bell Youinvest platform. If you are looking to open an investment LISA, or already have one with another provider, I think it’s definitely worth checking Dodl to see if you can save on fees while still getting a great investment experience.

Feature AJ Bell logoAJ Bell
Share Trading info Yes
CFD Trading info No
Funds info Yes
Research - ETFs info Yes
Bonds - Corporate info Yes
Bonds - Government (Gilts) info Yes
Investment Trusts info Yes
Spread Betting info No
Crypto Trading info No
Advisor Services info No

Education

I was impressed by the large amount of research, news and views on the AJ Bell website and app. The company educates investors through regular webinars, live events, email briefings, videos and online articles. It records a weekly podcast called ‘AJ Bell Money & Markets,’ and its in-house experts are frequently quoted in the financial press.

The contact centre is very easy to access. Whenever I’ve had a query in the past it’s been easy to talk to someone.

Feature AJ Bell logoAJ Bell
Education (Share Trading) info Yes
Education (Funds) info Yes
Education (Retirement) info Yes
Client Webinars info Yes
Client Webinars (Archived) info Yes

Final thoughts

AJ Bell is a solid choice for investors, whether looking to invest in funds, stocks or both. You can open a wide range of accounts, which is particularly useful for those looking to open a Lifetime ISA or Junior SIPP.

Its share transaction charges are high, though, so if you have a large portfolio or are looking to trade stocks irregularly, there are cheaper platforms available – such as eToro, XTB or Trading 212.

On the other hand, you could sign up to AJ Bell’s new app Dodl where charges are much lower and competitive with the other commission-free brokers listed above. You’d get the benefit of the AJ Bell brand but at a much lower cost than its Youinvest platform. There are fewer investments through Dodl but there are still enough for most investors.

About AJ Bell

AJ Bell is one of the UK’s biggest investment platforms, with around 490,000 customers. This is a similar amount to Interactive Investor and about a third of the U.K.’s largest DIY broker, Hargreaves Lansdown. AJ Bell was founded in 1995 as an actuarial consultancy and is now listed on the FTSE 250.

Is AJ Bell a good broker?

AJ Bell is considered a very good broker. It offers a wide range of accounts and investments and the customer support, user experience and educational materials are all very good.

Is my money safe with AJ Bell?

Your money is very safe with AJ Bell as your investments are covered by up to £85,000 through the Financial Conduct Authority.

Is AJ Bell a good ISA?

AJ Bell offers a stocks and shares ISA, juniors ISA and a lifetime ISA. All offer the choice for you to create your own portfolio or to select a ready-made investment fund compiled by AJ Bell. In our testing, it was very easy to set up and invest through an AJ Bell ISA.

How much does AJ Bell charge?

AJ Bell’s management fees of 0.25% are low if you are investing low amounts – perhaps less than £10,000. For amounts above this, AJ Bell may not be the cheapest broker. However, AJ Bell’s new app Dodl, a simplified investment offering, has cheaper management charges at 0.15%.

You’ll also pay fees every time you make a trade. Fees per transaction are £1.50 through regular investing or £9.95 through one-off or ad hoc trades.

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Methodology

For the UK.StockBrokers.com Annual Review, we assessed, rated, and ranked 17 U.K. share dealing platforms over a 10-week time period. Each broker’s platforms and features were exhaustively tested by hand and graded on 53 different variables. In total, over 25,000 words of research were produced.

We thoroughly tested and compared features of prime interest to everyday investors, including but not limited to:

  • Investment choices, such as whether the broker offers trading of shares, ETFs, funds, bonds, and CFDs; and offers SIPP and ISA accounts.
  • The broker’s charges and fees for investing.
  • Functionality and design of mobile apps and website platform, and a fluid experience moving between app and web.
  • Usability of tools such as charting and watch lists.
  • Market research, such as screening, news and analysis.
  • Educational resources including tutorials, online courses, videos, webinars and articles.

Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors with quality data they can trust. Our lead researcher and writer, Elizabeth Anderson, has more than a decade’s experience as a financial journalist and market researcher. Elizabeth’s expertise is backed by a team of veteran fellow traders, data auditors, editors and project managers who work to ensure that UK.StockBrokers.com reviews and guides are the most unbiased and complete in the industry. Read more about our team.

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About the Editorial Team

Elizabeth Anderson
Elizabeth Anderson

Elizabeth Anderson, lead writer and researcher, has been a financial journalist for more than a decade. In addition to her work with UK.StockBrokers.com, she has written extensively for major publications including BBC, The Times and Bloomberg. A keen investor herself, she is passionate about helping people understand finance and investing.

Steven Hatzakis
Steven Hatzakis

Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the StockBrokers.com Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

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