Interactive Brokers UK Review
Professional traders are brilliantly serviced with the trading tools, range of investments, and capabilities of Interactive Brokers. Meanwhile, less-experienced traders can still take advantage of the low commissions and excellent research available in the web-based Client Portal platform.
Interactive Brokers pros & cons
- An extremely competitive, low commission structure for both casual and frequent traders and investors.
- Trader Workstation (TWS) was already a powerful charting and trading platform for those wanting higher-end tools, but the upgrade of the Client Portal web-based platform is a welcome bonus for less-experienced traders.
- Offering of investment choices is far-reaching, with the choice of investing in stocks, ETFs, funds, investment trusts, warrants, futures, forex, bonds, and CFDs and spanning 33 countries.
- ISA and SIPP accounts are not on the table for those U.K. investors looking for the tax advantages these types of accounts afford.
|Offering of Investments|
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platform & Tools|
Commissions & fees
Interactive Brokers offers two primary pricing structures: tiered and fixed. There are no custody charges with either pricing structure, making Interactive Brokers an attractive option for U.K. residents who aren’t seeking a direct SIPP/ISA account.
For professionals and traders who don't need real-time streaming data, Interactive Brokers delivers. Traders who want real-time data will have to assess the data fees imposed to decide if Interactive Brokers makes sense pricewise.
Fixed Pricing: Fixed pricing charges £3 flat for trades up to £6,000 in value for Western European stocks. With this fixed rate, both a £100 trade and a £1,000 trade would cost a flat £3. Fixed pricing for non-Western European stocks charges £6 flat for trades up to £50,000 in value. To take advantage of this pricing, clients must use IBKR SmartRouting. International stocks are subject to different rates, which can be found on the Interactive Brokers website.
Tiered pricing: Tiered pricing at Interactive Brokers, which applies to trades of more than 6,000 in EUR and GBP, costs 0.05% of the trade value for stocks, ETFs and warrants. At this rate, a stock trade with a £8,000 trade value would only cost £4 (8,000 x .0005). Institutional clients can receive cheaper rates if trade value requirements are met.
Fund pricing: All funds at Interactive Brokers are commission-free or start at EUR 4.95 (or equivalent) with no custody fees. With over 8,300 commission-free funds available, Interactive Brokers is the only U.K. broker we’ve tested that offers funds without custody fees or dealing charges.
Market data: By default, customers receive free delayed market data for available exchanges. To access real-time streaming market data, customers must subscribe to each exchange individually, by paying £1- £10 a month per exchange. For example, LSE U.K. Top of Book L1 market data costs £5.00 / month.
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 Interactive Brokers would cost based on trade frequency:
- 5 deals per year (£5,000 trade value) = £15 (£3 x 5) + real-time quotes (£60)
- 12 deals per year (£5,000 trade value) = £36 (£3 x 12) + real-time quotes (£60)
- 36 deals per year (£5,000 trade value) = £108 (£3 x 36) + real-time quotes (£60)
- 120 deals per year (£5,000 trade value) = £360 (£3 x 120) + real-time quotes (£60)
- 3 fund deals per year = £14.85 (£4.95 x 3) + real-time quotes (£60)
Interactive Brokers pricing summary:
|Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month||£3.00|
|Share Trading: 10-19 Deals/ Month||£3.00|
|Share Trading: 20+ Deals/ Month||£3.00|
|Annual Custody Fee: £0 - £250,000||0%|
|Annual Custody Fee: £250K-£500K||0%|
|Annual Custody Fee: £500,000 - £1m||0%|
|Annual Custody Fee: £1m and over||0%|
|ETFs - Fee||£3.00|
|Investment Trusts - Fee||£4.95|
|Telephone Dealing Fee||£25.00|
Bottom line: If you don't require trading tools or research, there are cheaper (even free, zero-commission) options, such as Freetrade, Trading 212, Capital.com and DEGIRO. But if you want a full suite of tools, features, and research for a low cost, Interactive Brokers quickly becomes one of the premier options available.
Mobile trading apps
IBKR Mobile is an excellent app compared to other offerings in the U.K. market. Over 70 technical indicators are available, as well as most of the research available on the Client Portal web platform. The app is powerful, easy to use, and is amongst the top mobile offerings in the U.K. The mobile app is now offered in nine languages and includes order presets that carry across all platforms.
Other platforms & tools
Interactive Brokers’ flagship platform, Trader Workstation (TWS), is a downloadable platform that is difficult to learn but comes packed with trading tools and features.
For traders who do not need all the bells and whistles or are less experienced, Interactive Brokers offers the web-based Client Portal platform, which was upgraded nicely in 2021.
Client Portal: Client Portal is much more user-friendly than TWS while still offering a variety of great features to trade and manage a basic portfolio. The platform allows you to view your portfolio and watchlist, get news on global markets, research assets, conduct charting studies, and place trades. It now also provides a strong charting platform, a white label of the impressive TradingView platform. The enhanced charting capabilities are a bonus, providing a high-quality technical analysis service for those who want it whilst still being user-friendly for the less experienced trader.
Trader Workstation (TWS): While certainly not beginner-friendly, TWS offers a diverse selection of professional trading tools, including the Mutual Funds Scanner, Bonds Scanner, Options Strategy Lab, Volatility Lab, Risk Navigator, Market Scanner, Strategy Builder, and Portfolio Builder, among others. Combine that with over 100 different order types and algos and professional traders will be in awe at the power and customization that TWS offers.
TWS charting: Interactive Brokers offers 137 technical indicators and 9 drawing tools on TWS. Almost everything is customizable, giving the user complete control, although utilizing some of the more advanced tools can be cumbersome.
Artificial intelligence: Interactive Brokers is on the forefront of integrating AI into stock trading, thanks to innovations such as “for you notifications” and IBot. “For you notifications” provide status updates on open orders, dividends and interest collected, and links to relevant tools. IBot acts as an assistant, using artificial intelligence to service customer requests via chat (or voice in the iPhone app). Requests can include placing trades, getting detailed quotes, or merely getting account information, amongst other features.
Interactive Brokers trading tools:
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||Yes|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||98|
|Charting - Drawing Tools||84|
|Charting - Notes||Yes|
|Charting - Display Corporate Events||Yes|
|Charting - Stock Overlays||Yes|
|Charting - Index Overlays||Yes|
For professionals, Interactive Brokers offers a comprehensive selection of research tools. Alongside numerous screeners, traders can back-test strategies and conduct institutional grade portfolio analysis.
For casual investors, stocks, ETFs, and funds all come with a variety of research, including analyst ratings, research reports, forecasts, ESG ratings, and more.
Fundamentals Explorer: Both TWS and Client Portal provide access to the Fundamentals Explorer tool. Pulling a stock quote displays a company overview, company news, a chart with several indicators, analyst ratings, financials, analyst forecasts, ESG ratings, and more. News pieces even include research reports from companies such as Reuters.
Fund research: Available for hundreds of U.K. funds, research includes a style matrix breaking down the fund’s growth objective, a breakdown of fund holdings, and performance compared to peers. Lipper Leader Ratings are also available for some funds. These ratings give each fund a 1-5 score on total return, consistent return, preservation, tax efficiency, and expenses. Lipper Ratings are more widely available for U.S. funds, although they are present for several popular U.K. fund families.
Interactive Brokers research:
|Research - Shares||Yes|
|Research - CFDs||Yes|
|Research - Funds||Yes|
|Fund Research - Research Reports||No|
|Research - ETFs||Yes|
|Research - Bonds||Yes|
|Portfolio Allocation Breakdown||Yes|
Offering of investments
Interactive Brokers provides one of the most diverse offerings in the industry and leads by a wide margin in multiple areas, including international trading. Globally, customers can trade across more than 135 international markets in 33 countries.
ISA / SIPP Accounts: U.K. residents cannot open ISA/SIPP accounts on their own at Interactive Brokers, the downside to an otherwise excellent range of products. We would like to see Interactive Brokers add this to their “to-do list” for a fully fledged offering to U.K. residents.
Other investments:In addition to stock trading, Interactive Brokers offers ETFs, funds, investment trusts, warrants, options, futures, forex, bonds, and CFDs.
Mutual funds marketplace: Interactive Brokers offers more than 25,000 funds from 290+ fund families, including 8,300 commission-free funds from companies such as Allianz, BlackRock, and Shroder.
Interactive Brokers offering of investments:
|Bonds - Corporate||Yes|
|Bonds - Government (Gilts)||Yes|
For U.K. residents, the educational offering at Interactive Brokers is mixed.
Educational content is collected in sections under the umbrella IBKR Campus. Materials in the Traders’ Academy section are plentiful, but a good portion is focused on understanding the products and tools available on TWS, IBKR Mobile, and Client Portal. Other educational areas target the advanced trader and quantitative trading professionals.
While there is some investment-focused educational content on offer, it is designed for the U.S. market, with lingo focused on U.S. stock trading, not U.K. share dealing. The offerings in the IBKR Webinars section are of a good quality, but again, the focus is certainly advanced.
Interactive Brokers education:
|Has Education - Share Trading||Yes|
|Has Education - Funds||No|
|Has Education - Retirement||Yes|
|Client Webinars (Archived)||Yes|
For professionals and frequent U.K. traders seeking an institutional-grade trading platform coupled with some of the lowest commissions for global trading, Interactive Brokers is a winner, particularly if you are not worried about the lack of SIPP or ISA offerings, which is the only chink in its otherwise impressive armour.
Additionally, Client Portal and IBKR Mobile provide an easy way to research, trade, and analyze your portfolio without having to learn the intricacies of the TWS platform.
About Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers was founded in 1977 by Thomas Peterffy and is headquartered in Connecticut in the U.S. (see our Interactive Brokers review for U.S. residents). It currently boasts over 1 million client accounts and is active in 135 markets and in 24 different currencies. Interactive Brokers is a truly international company and publicly traded, listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under symbol “IBKR.”
For the 2021 StockBrokers.com U.K. Review, we assessed, rated, and ranked 11 U.K. share dealing platforms over a 10-week time period. Each broker was exhaustively tested on all available platforms and graded on 53 different variables. In total, over 17,000 words of research were produced.
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 team.
About the Author
Steve Miley With 30 years of experience in institutional financial markets, Steve has won multiple awards from Technical Analyst Magazine, including "Best Independent Fixed Income" and "Best FX Research." In addition to his work with StockBrokers.com, Steve is the founder of The Market Chartist, where he provides market research for institutional clients; and is editor-in-chief for FXExplained.co.uk.