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Overall

The Charles Stanley Direct offering is average. This is disappointing, given the high commissions and fees.

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

Dislikes
  • No education provided
  • A high fee structure
  • Poor quality research
  • No trading via mobile app

Review Sections:

Charles Stanley Direct falls under the umbrella of its parent company, Charles Stanley & Co. Limited, originally established as a banking partnership in Sheffield in 1792. The company is one of the oldest firms on the London Stock Exchange. As the business grew, it became recognized as a separate operation to the banking partnership and in 1852, the name Charles Stanley first appeared as an independent member firm of the London Stock Exchange.

Charles Stanley & Co. Limited have a total of £20 billion in funds under management and administration, looking after the assets of 95,000 clients. The company employs over 800 people divided equally between London and the regions.

In 2002 Charles Stanley acquired Torrie & Co (an Edinburgh-based stockbroker), which operated an online self-service stockbroking offering called Xest. This was eventually rebranded as Charles Stanley Direct, which now has Assets Under Management of £2.0 billion, split virtually 50/50 between shares and funds.

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

Commissions & Fees

Charles Stanley Direct has a flat fee structure of £11.50 per trade for online stocks and shares, which is at the higher end of the industry.

Charles Stanley Direct has a flat fee structure of £11.50 per trade for online stocks and shares, which is at the higher end of the industry. Unlike its competitors (for example Barclays Stockbrokers, AJ Bell YouInvest, and TD Direct Investing), £11.50 is charged, regardless of the total trades made that month.

Besides trade charges, clients are charged a platform fee for Investment, SIPP and ISA accounts, depending on the portfolio balance. For assets less than £250,000 the fee is .25% per annum (£240 per annum cap), £250,000 – £500,000 (.20%), £500,000 – £1 million (.15%), and £1 million – £2 million (.05%). There is no charge for holdings over £2 million.

One positive aspect of the Charles Stanley Direct offering is that the .25% annual platform charge is waived each month if at least one trade is made.

Charles Stanley Direct
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month£11.50
Share Trading: 10-19 Deals/ Month£11.50
Share Trading: 20+ Deals/ Month£11.50
Annual Custody Fee: £0 - £250,000*0.25%
Annual Custody Fee: £250K-£500K*0.20%
Annual Custody Fee: £500,000 - £1m*0.15%
Annual Custody Fee: £1m and over*0.05%
ETFs - Fee£11.50
Investment Trusts - Fee£11.50
Telephone Dealing Fee*£25.00

Research

The Charles Stanley Direct research offering is poor overall, and falls well below industry standards. A simplistic individual share research page incorporates a basic charting package (see below in Platforms & Tools), whilst the company research offering is inadequate at best.

A very brief financial summary and core data, together with very basic broker views, upgrades and downgrades, plus forecasts provide a poor fundamental research overview. Although this may be enough for a beginner or intermediate investor, it is insufficient for more experienced investors or traders who make investing and trading decisions based on financials and fundamentals.

Charles Stanley Direct also produces bespoke research articles on upcoming proceedings and events that impact the market. Again, these are aimed more at beginner to intermediate investors or traders and are rather superficial.

Charles Stanley Direct Research

In summary, if you are just looking for basic microeconomic and fundamental research on individual shares, then the Charles Stanley Direct research offering might be sufficient. However, for investors or traders who rely on a deeper understanding of the fundamental and financials of the company, then Charles Stanley Direct research is inadequate.

Charles Stanley Direct
Research - Shares Yes
Research - CFDs No
Research - Funds Yes
Fund Research - Research Reports No
Research - ETFs No
Research - Bonds No
Portfolio Allocation Breakdown Yes

Platforms & Tools

The trading platform and analytical tools offered by Charles Stanley Direct are functional, but far from impressive. From the charting side, it is possible to add in comparisons with other indices or use any of the 15 different technical analysis indicators.

Charles Stanley Direct Charting

In addition, a simple tabbed view allows for the analysis of core data, company data brokers use, upgrades and downgrades, as well as forecasts. It is also possible to move quickly with one click to an order ticket or to set up a price alert.

Charles Stanley Direct Quote Screen

Although the tools on offer are sufficient, an intermediate or advanced trader would probably require a more substantial platform from which to trade. Given the relatively high fee and commission structure for Charles Stanley Direct, we feel the trading platform should be of a higher caliber.

Charles Stanley Direct
Desktop Platform (Windows) No
Web Platform Yes
iPhone App Yes
Android App No
Stock Alerts Yes
Charting - Indicators / Studies19
Charting - Drawing Tools1
Charting - Notes No
Charting - Display Corporate Events No
Charting - Stock Overlays Yes
Charting - Index Overlays Yes

Mobile Trading

Charles Stanley Direct launched a mobile application in Q4 2016, and although it is too early to compare its performance with the company’s competitors, the iPhone application is user-friendly and provides plenty of useful information.

Clients can view their trading account valuation, current market activity and news and research (which is sorted by categories and most viewed) and set price alerts.

Charles Stanley Direct Mobile Markets UpdateE

However, there is no facility to set up a watch list or to trade via the application. Furthermore, there is no dedicated iPad app and no application for the Android market.

Although Charles Stanley Direct is playing catch up, they still have some way to go to challenge the better mobile applications on offer within the UK online trading marketplace.

Other Notes

The educational offering from Charles Stanley Direct is extremely limited and is located on the Charles Stanley sister site. Given that commission rates are far from a discounted level, we would expect at least some educational provision.

With parent group Charles Stanley’s long and respected history, clients may find the advisory services attractive. The company offers various tiers of private client advisory services, from discretionary management through advisory management to advisory dealing services, which all come with a fee but allow for a more personal investing experience.

Final Thoughts

Given that the commissions and fees are at the upper end of the UK industry standard, one would expect Charles Stanley Direct to provide a strong trading platform, impressive research, and a notable educational base. Although the research area is good the overall Charles Stanley Direct client experience is below average, which is disappointing given the level of fees.


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

Trading Fees (including UK or overseas shares, ETFs, gilts, corporate bonds and investment trusts).

  • £11.50 per trade
  • Dealing Account Annual Fee

    • Fund holdings £0 - £250,000 = 0.25%
    • Fund holdings £250,000 to £500,000 = 0.20%
    • Fund holdings £500,000 to £1m = 0.15%
    • Fund holdings £1m to £2m = 0.05%
    • Fund holdings Over £2m = 0.00%
    • Shares, investment trusts, ETFs, gilts & bonds holdings = 0.25% (minimum of £24, maximum of £240 per annum). If one or more chargeable share trades are placed across any accounts each month, the 0.25% platform charge for that month on your stocks and shares holdings is waived.
    • Cash holdings = No Charge

    ISA Account Annual Fee

    • Fund holdings £0 - £250,000 = 0.25%
    • Fund holdings £250,000 to £500,000 = 0.20%
    • Fund holdings £500,000 to £1m = 0.15%
    • Fund holdings £1m to £2m = 0.05%
    • Fund holdings Over £2m = 0.00%
    • Shares, investment trusts, ETFs, gilts & bonds holdings = 0.25% (minimum of £24, maximum of £240 per annum). If one or more chargeable share trades are placed across any accounts each month, the 0.25% platform charge for that month on your stocks and shares holdings is waived.
    • Cash holdings = No Charge

    SIPP Account Annual Fees

    • Fund holdings £0 - £250,000 = 0.25%
    • Fund holdings £250,000 to £500,000 = 0.20%
    • Fund holdings £500,000 to £1m = 0.15%
    • Fund holdings £1m to £2m = 0.05%
    • Fund holdings Over £2m = 0.00%
    • Shares, investment trusts, ETFs, gilts & bonds holdings = 0.25% (minimum of £24, maximum of £240 per annum). If one or more chargeable share trades are placed across any accounts each month, the 0.25% platform charge for that month on your stocks and shares holdings is waived.
    • Cash holdings = No Charge
    • Annual administration charge = £100 + VAT per annum (charged pro-rata six monthly in arrears). SIPP charge waived if you have combined assets across the platform of £30,000 or more.

    Telephone Dealing Charges

    • £0- £10,000 = 0.75%
    • £10,001- £100,000 = 0.25%
    • Over £100,000 = 0.15%
    • Minimum £25 per trade

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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