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Overall

Barclays overhauled its platform in September 2017 to significant criticism from customers and media. One year later, transition challenges continue to plague the bank; however, Barclays remains a good “one-stop shop” for share dealing and investments.

By Steve Miley / March 13th, 2017 / Updated: September 25th, 2018

Dislikes
  • Commissions and fees are at the higher end of the UK online offering
  • A lack of depth on the individual stock / fund summary pages

Review Sections:

UPDATE September, 2017 – Barclays has migrated all 200,000+ clients from Barclays Stockbrokers to a new platform, Barclays Smart Investor. The entire platform experience has been overhauled, making our original review below outdated. While we have updated the Commissions & Fees section to reflect Barclay's new pricing, the remaining sections reference the previous Stockbrokers platform. Barclays received significant criticism from customers and media for the transition. For alternative share dealing solutions, see our guide to the Best Share Dealing Accounts

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.

Barclays Stockbrokers offers its clients access to a broad range of investments, including funds, equities, gilts, corporate bonds, exchange traded funds (ETFs), and much more. Investors have a choice of investing in more than 2,000 funds from over 100 fund managers. Barclays Stockbrokers has a dedicated UK-based client service team. 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.

Barclays
Share Trading Yes
CFD Trading Yes
Funds Yes
ETFs Yes
Bonds - Corporate Yes
Bonds - Government (Gilts) Yes
Investment Trusts Yes
Spread Betting Yes
Banking Services Yes
Advisor Services No

Commissions & Fees

Barclays SmartInvestor charges two separate fees for each account: transaction fees (dealing charges) and customer fees (custody fee). Dealing funds, unit trusts, and open ended investment companies (OEICs) costs £3 per transaction, with automated monthly or quarterly purchases costing just £1 per transaction. Dealing other investments such as shares and ETFs costs £6 per transaction. All charges are flat-rate regardless of the portfolio value or account activity level.

Annual customer (custody) fees are 0.2% for fund positions and 0.1% for other investments (shares, ETFs, etc). There are no customer fees assessed for cash held in the portfolio.

Here’s an example portfolio breakdown.

Barclays smart investor pricing example

Barclays
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%
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

Research

The research area within the MarketMaster platform is impressive, with a wealth of data, including a strong technical analysis area (with which we have been particularly impressed and will look at in more depth in the Platform & Tools section).

Fundamental data on individual stocks are set out within the traditional tab layout, and it is easy to view a depth of information, including a summary page, recent news, financial data, fundamental data, directors’ dealings and broker views.

Barclays Fundamental Research

For funds, the research page includes an overall fund summary, performance, holdings, and fund manager profiles. These are all easy to find and view, together with the ability to download a copy of a simplified prospectus/key investor information document.

In addition, access is provided to the Citywire Selection, which offers award-winning research and independent analysis on funds. Citywire is an independent financial publisher that has provided investment research and analysis to private and professional investors since 1999. It is possible to search the Citywire Selection by sector. Although this research does not include personal recommendations from Barclay Stockbrokers, it is a useful research feature for Barclay Stockbrokers clients.

Furthermore, there is an added bonus on the research side for fixed-income investors. Barclays provides a separate Barclays Gilts and Bonds Microsite, with dedicated research and views on bond markets. Although this site does not go into great depth, it does provide an option to chart gilts and corporate bonds, has a yield calculator, bond of the week section, and a monthly banker section.

Compared to the company’s competitors’ offerings, Barclays Stockbrokers’ fixed income information (gilts and bonds) is far more extensive. Furthermore, there is a small “fixed income university,” which provides an introductory education to gilts and bonds.

Barclays Gilts and Bonds Microsite

Stockbrokers TV is a video archive, featuring exclusive video interviews from investment professionals, high-profile fund managers, and Barclays Stockbrokers’ experts. The videos can be searched chronologically or by topic. Transcripts of interviews are also available.

Barclays Stockbrokers TV

Finally, on the research side, there’s the Barclays Blog, which provides timely articles on current market activity. All things considered, both new and experienced investors will appreciate Barclays’ educational offering and find it useful and informative.

One minor criticism is that the research summary page for individual assets (stocks, funds, or other assets), lacks depth. Compared to Barclays Stockbrokers’ major competitors (for example Hargreaves Lansdown), the individual asset summary page is very basic and sparse, and requires many clicks to find even simple information.

Overall we were very impressed with both the extent and depth of the fundamental research data. Barclays finished No. 1 for research.

However, overall we were very impressed with both the extent and depth of the fundamental research data.

In addition, the technical analysis platform (which we will now review), is a strong feature.

Barclays
Research - Shares Yes
Research - CFDs Yes
Research - Funds Yes
Fund Research - Research Reports No
Research - ETFs Yes
Research - Bonds Yes
Portfolio Allocation Breakdown Yes

Platforms & Tools

The overall trading platform offered by Barclays Stockbrokers is user-friendly, and it is relatively easy to find individual stocks, funds, and ETFs. Furthermore, navigating from the research section or from the virtual portfolio to place a trade is only one click away.

However, it is the technical analysis section in which the platform shines, compared to its competitors. Of the major UK online brokers, only IG (segueing in from the spread bet and CFD worlds) comes anywhere close to challenging Barclays Stockbrokers for the top position in charting analysis.

This outstanding feature is best highlighted by the number of indicators that can be added to any chart. There are an impressive 152 different indicators, ranging from the basic simple moving average through to intermediate pivot points and further up the niche ladder to Elder Ray Bull Power. There are indicators available that even dedicated, stand-alone, pricey technical analysis packages do not offer. Furthermore, this impressive offering is complemented by 14 drawing tools, from basic trend lines through to Fibonacci Arcs. You can also add your own comments to a chart. However, a disappointment was the inability to compare individual stocks or funds with other assets, which is a common feature on many other competitor platforms.

Barclays Charting

Besides the ability to conduct your own individual technical analysis on any investment vehicle or market, there is also a useful technical analysis tab on the overall summary page that traders or investors can use for third-party input if they are not keen on performing their own charting analysis. This summary screen offers basic support and resistance levels, short-term and longer-term trading views from a technical standpoint, momentum indicator analysis, and automated bullish/bearish and overbought/oversold signals.

Barclays Technical Analysis

A minor irritating drawback, despite the notable array of technical analysis indicators and drawing tools, is the inability to simply add a stock fund to the virtual portfolio (effectively a watch list) from either the chart or research summary page.

However, together with its strong fundamental research section, the Barclays Stockbrokers technical analysis and charting platform is a highly attractive research package.

Barclays
Desktop Platform (Windows) No
Web Platform Yes
iPhone App No
Android App No
Stock Alerts Yes
Charting - Indicators / Studies152
Charting - Drawing Tools14
Charting - Notes Yes
Charting - Display Corporate Events No
Charting - Stock Overlays Yes
Charting - Index Overlays Yes

Mobile Trading

The absence of any mobile trading application via iPhone, iPad or the Android store is disappointing for such a large provider of online trading and investing services in the UK.

The absence of any mobile trading application via iPhone, iPad or the Android store is disappointing for such a large provider of online trading and investing services in the UK. Although there is access to spread betting and a CFD service, a dedicated Barclays Stockbrokers mobile trading app is an absolute necessity for the 21st-century investor and trader.

That said, Barclays Stockbrokers tells us a mobile solution is in the pipeline and is due for delivery some time in 2017. We will be sure to update this review with our initial thoughts, once it launches.

Other Notes

Barclays Stockbrokers is part of the larger Barclays Bank Group, and with this historic and large parent company comes an added assurance of security. There are no direct benefits to the online user of Barclays Stockbrokers by being a Barclays Bank client. However, the other major bank to operate online in the UK share-trading market is HSBC. To open a share-dealing account with HSBC, which is an InvestDirect offering, you have to be an HSBC current account customer.

Education

Education is also a strong feature Barclays Stockbrokers offers. Together with the impressive research area and strong technical analysis platform, 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, with a deep archive and search facility.

Barclays Education

The information is presented in a user-friendly manner by topic, with a deep archive and easy to use search. There is an ‘at a glance’ section (to sum up the key points) alongside a ‘things to remember’ section (to help the client understand the risks and a jargon buster) which clearly explains any terms the user may not have come across before.

Furthermore, written content is complemented by a variety of videos and infographics which enhances the learning experience (some of this in the Stockbrokers TV area).

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.

Barclays
Has Education - Share Trading Yes
Has Education - Funds Yes
Has Education - Retirement Yes
Client Webinars Yes
Client Webinars (Archived) Yes

Final Thoughts

The fees are on the high side, but this comes with an enormously strong fundamental research offering, a depth of educational articles, and one of the best technical analysis platforms offered in the UK market.

In the end, Barclays Stockbrokers made it to the top of our rankings in 2017, despite the absence of a mobile trading platform, which is disappointing in the modern era. Given that the commission levels are at the upper end of the UK market, the trading public should have access to their trading accounts and markets via their mobile devices.


Steve Miley

Reviewed by 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.

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Ratings Overall

Summary

Offering of Investments
Commissions & Fees
Platforms & Tools
Research
Education
Mobile Trading

Commissions & Fees

Commission Notes

Barclays SmartInvestor charges two separate fees for each account: transaction fees (dealing charges) and customer fees (custody fee). Dealing unit trusts (funds) and open ended investment companies (OEICs) costs £3 per transaction, with automated monthly or quarterly purchases costing just £1 per transaction. Dealing other investments such as shares and ETFs costs £6 per transaction. All charges are flat-rate regardless of the portfolio value or account activity level.

Annual customer (custody) fees are 0.2% for fund positions and 0.1% for other investments (shares, ETFs, etc). There are no customer fees assessed for cash held in the portfolio.

Here’s an example portfolio breakdown.

Barclays smart investor pricing example


All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/08/18 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The UK.StockBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest pricing data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page.

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