Barclays Smart Investor offers competitive share dealing commissions (£6 per trade) alongside an excellent selection of research tools and education. However, there is no dedicated mobile app for share dealing and the trading tools offered are just average.
Top Takeaways for 2019
After spending over 100 hours testing nine online stock brokers for UK share dealing, here are our top findings on Barclays Smart Investor:
- Founded in 1896, Barclays has more than 200,000 Smart Investor customers.
- At £6 per trade, Barclays is one of the lowest cost options for traders who trade less than ten times a month. However, active traders who trade more than ten times a month can find cheaper rates with DEGIRO and IG.
- Barclays finished Best in Class (top 3) for Research and offers excellent investor education, making it our top pick for beginners in 2019.
- A wide range of research is available for stocks and funds, allowing investors to look at broad market segments or individual assets. That said, Barclays is the only broker in our review that does not offer shares trading in international markets outside of the UK.
- Disappointingly, Barclays does not currently offer a mobile app for share dealing. Furthermore, the website offers just an average trading experience. We were left wanting more, especially after using Saxo Markets and IG.
|Offering of Investments|
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platform & Tools|
Commissions & Fees
Barclays Smart Investor charges two separate fees for each account: transaction fees (dealing charges) and customer fees (custody fee). Dealing bonds, gilts, ETFs, and shares costs £6 per transaction. All charges are flat-rate regardless of the portfolio value or account activity level. £6 per trade for trading less than nine times a month ranks second-best of the nine brokers we tested. Once traders start to eclipse nine trades each month, other brokers such as Interactive Investor and IG become cheaper.
Annual customer (custody) fees are 0.2%, with a minimum of £48 annually. These annual custody fees rank as the 6th most expensive of the nine brokers we tested.
|Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month||£6.00|
|Share Trading: 10-19 Deals/ Month||£6.00|
|Share Trading: 20+ Deals/ Month||£6.00|
|Annual Custody Fee: £0 - £250,000*||0.2% (minimum £48)|
|Annual Custody Fee: £250K-£500K*||0.2%|
|Annual Custody Fee: £500,000 - £1m*||0.2%|
|Annual Custody Fee: £1m and over*||0.2%|
|ETFs - Fee||£6.00|
|Investment Trusts - Fee||£3.00|
|Telephone Dealing Fee*||£25.00|
Platforms & Tools
Barclays Smart Investor does not offer a standalone platform. Instead, traders must use Barclays’ website. While there can be a lot to navigate, Smart Investor has a decent selection of tools.
Charting: Conducting any technical analysis on a chart must be done through the research centre. The research centre provides traders with 67 different charting indicators and 17 drawing tools. Charting tools aside, Barclays has room for improvement. Stock alerts are only offered for price, RNS, or volume changes, and must be set through the watchlist. Stock and index overlays are not available for charting.
Mobile Trading: Barclays does not currently offer a mobile application. To trade from a mobile device, traders must use the Barclays website, which is not quite the same as a dedicated app. If mobile is important to you, Saxo Markets, IG , and Hargreaves Lansdown all provide great apps.
Usability: In our testing, we found that the Barclays Smart Investor website constantly makes users re-login to the online platform when opening different tabs on the site. All in all, it was a frustrating experience.
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||No|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||67|
|Charting - Drawing Tools||17|
|Charting - Notes||No|
|Charting - Display Corporate Events||No|
|Charting - Stock Overlays||No|
|Charting - Index Overlays||No|
Barclays offers a variety of broad research on shares, funds, ETFs, and trusts, including a variety of tools and news. For example, the screener tool, allows traders to filter shares by a number of options such as dividend yield, fundamental data, and technical data.
Funds: Barclays places a big emphasis on funds, offering a funds list with over 2,400 funds. Each fund receives an FE Crown Fund Rating. This rating assigns a one through five score to help traders distinguish between funds that are strongly outperforming their benchmark and those that are not.
Additionally, Barclays offers the following research tools:
- Research Centre: The Barclays research centre is nearly identical to that of Halifax and Lloyds Bank, the only difference being the color scheme. The research centre offers a stock factsheet, an interactive chart for technical analysis, recommendations to buy/sell/hold based on technical analysis, and more company info.
- Misc. Research: Barclays offers market news and miscellaneous research through the following tabs: News and Research, Markets Overview, Market News, Fund Risers and Fallers, Fund Performance Table, Sector Performance Table, Top Rated Funds. These research areas provide great insight into current market conditions, as well as individual stocks and funds.
- Company Factsheets: Used for shares and ETFs, this tool allows traders to sort potential assets by metrics such as volume, EPS, dividend yield, or volatility.
Overall, Barclays Smart Investor provides a solid portfolio of research, edging out all competitors less Hargreaves Lansdown in our testing. One of the only features Barclays is missing is in-house analyst reports / commentary.
|Research - Shares||Yes|
|Research - CFDs||No|
|Research - Funds||Yes|
|Fund Research - Research Reports||Yes|
|Research - ETFs||Yes|
|Research - Bonds||Yes|
|Portfolio Allocation Breakdown||Yes|
Offering of Investments
Barclays Smart Investor offers its clients access to a broad range of investments, including funds, equities, gilts, corporate bonds, exchange traded funds (ETFs), and much more. SIPP and ISA accounts are also available in addition to share dealing accounts. Investors have a choice of investing in more than 2,000 funds from over 100 fund managers.
Barclays does not offer access to international exchanges, so UK residents will not be able to buy direct shares of Apple (AAPL) or Amazon (AMZN). Barclays Smart Investor has a dedicated UK-based client service team.
Barclays offers “Ready-Made Investments,” which are five pre-made portfolios to match your investment goals and risk appetite.
For investors who want to invest in funds that have a positive impact on society, Barclays has “Impact Investing.” Impact Investing funds are funds Barclays has deemed to have a benefit of society, and generate positive returns.
Barclays also places a big emphasis on funds, offering a list with over 2,400 funds.
|Bonds - Corporate||Yes|
|Bonds - Government (Gilts)||Yes|
Education is also a powerful feature Barclays Stockbrokers offers. There’s an abundance of educational information, delivered in concise but detailed articles that cater for everyone – from beginners through to advanced investors. The information is presented in a user-friendly manner by topic. Hidden in the Investment Insight tab lies dozens of videos, many of which have an educational focus.
Overall, we found the education content provided by Barclays Stockbrokers to be high quality, easy to follow, and diverse enough to appeal to all investors, regardless of experience level.
|Has Education - Share Trading||Yes|
|Has Education - Funds||Yes|
|Has Education - Retirement||Yes|
|Client Webinars (Archived)||Yes|
Custody fees and fees for share dealing are competitive for traders who trade less than nine times a month, which become less competitive for traders who trade more than nine times a month.
Aside from the lack of dedicated mobile app, weak trading tools, and a few ease of use issues, Barclays Smart Investor is a viable share dealing option. Traders have access to quality market news, research tools, and a brilliant education section.
Barclays is a household name in the UK as a major global financial services provider, with a history spanning more than 300 years. Barclays Stockbrokers was established in 1986 and is part of the parent Barclays Bank Group. Barclays Stockbrokers, as an execution-only service, has won numerous industry awards for the execution side of the business and its provision of SIPPs and ISAs.
The Barclays Bank Group is a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange and is one of the largest on the FTSE 100 (the 100 largest companies by market capitalization). Its ticker is BARC.
About the author: Steve Miley Steve Miley is Director of Research, Europe, for StockBrokers.com and heads the annual UK Share Dealing Broker Review. With 25 years of experience in institutional financial markets, Steve has won multiple Technical Analyst Magazine awards, including "Best Independent Fixed Income" and "Best FX Research." Alongside StockBrokers.com, Steve is the founder of The Market Chartist where he provides market research for institutional clients.