The increase in the use of mobile devices globally to access social media and online services via apps continues exponentially. In fact, today more users access Facebook via mobile devices than they do via a personal computer.
It is no surprise then, that online brokers have been quick to join this party in recent years, with most online brokers devoting significant resources to mobile development. We conducted all our tests on iOS devices, focusing principally on the iPhone.
For some brokers, mobile services are currently just about content delivery, educational information and research. For others, the experience delves deeper, involving portfolio management, creating and maintaining watchlists and trading.
Although UK brokers continue to push ahead with innovation, three brokers in our review (Alliance Trust Savings, Halifax, and Barclays) have yet to even launch an app, while a couple have just recently launched mobile applications. This leaves plenty of room for improvement across the industry going forward. For the future, we anticipate brokers across the board will provide a full mobile trading experience that offers trade tools, price alerts, comprehensive charting and advanced order execution.
In our 2017 review, we found the AJ Bell Youinvest application better than the rest. The app includes a variety of ways to manage a user account. There’s an account summary page, portfolio details, cash statement and transaction history. Furthermore, the app is one of the few that allows for direct trading, enabling investors to place market and limit orders. There is also a comprehensive research section that includes market news, results, broker views and insider dealings. Research videos are also available via the app, and if clients have an account balance of over £4,000, they will also have access to “Shares” magazine. Finally, there is an education section, with downloadable guides.
IG was a close second to AJ Bell Youinvest with its mobile apps. IG provides two applications for its online share-dealing service. While the IG Trading app is weak in its inclusion of research, it does provide a clean trading experience. Clients have access to pre-populated watchlists, personal watchlists, and, like AJ Bell, can place trades directly within the app. The second IG app, IG Academy, focuses solely on education and does a terrific job servicing new investors. The app includes a variety of introductory courses that are cleanly organized by section. Furthermore, user progress is tracked the whole way through, and even quizzes are included.
Taking third and fourth place for mobile trading were TD Direct Investing and Interactive Investor. Both provide good mobile experiences for their clients but could use more charting options, order entry types and fundamental research and education.
All data considered, brokers are wising up to the great benefits of the mobile trading world. Although the provision of mobile by UK online brokers has advanced, we see significant scope for further innovation and development, particularly compared to offerings in the US. See: Best US Brokers for Mobile Trading.