AJ Bell is an award-winning brokerage known for its ISA, SIPP, and General Investment accounts.
It’s a popular option for people who are somewhat conservative about their investments.
Due to the high interest in the platform, I tried using its services and discovered several strengths and weaknesses in this investment platform.
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Introduction to AJ Bell
Founded in 1995, AJ Bell is one of the leading investment platforms in the UK, with over 469,000 clients and £75 billion invested.
The company focuses mostly on UK investors, with headquarters in Manchester, London, and Bristol.
If you have any doubt about their reputation, their awards will speak for themselves.
The company won Best Investment Platform in 2023 from Which? Recommended Provider, Best Retirement Provider in 2022 from Money Marketing Awards, and Best Self-Invested Personal Pension in 2022 from Which? Recommended Provider.
Looking at their awards, you might already have an inkling about their strengths – their savings and retirement accounts.
Their first product online was the SIPP which they offered in 2000. That’s why it’s popular for people who are a little risk-averse about their investments.
Nonetheless, they still have plenty of other products and features that different traders can use according to their needs.
How to Create & Close an Account at AJ Bell
Their sign-up process is seamless. I tried this for myself, and it barely took 10 minutes of my time.
Before you go ahead and open their site, there are several documents you will need. These include your National Insurance number and funding methods (bank details or credit/debit card details).
To apply for their SIPP account, you will need your National Insurance number, employer details, and debit card or existing pension to fund your account.
To apply for their Junior account, you will need your National Insurance number, your child’s name, and their National Insurance number as well.
When I tried to open a second Junior account to try out the system, it didn’t allow me to do it. So if you have more than 1 child, I suggest you contact their customer service to find out how you can work around their system.
If you ever want to close an account in AJ Bell, you will need to contact their customer support and they will advise you.
AJ Bell offers several different products that you can choose from:
- Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP): This is AJ Bell’s most popular product which has won numerous awards.
- Junior SIPP: SIPP savings account for children
- Stocks and Shares ISA: Tax-free savings account that you can put a range of investments into.
- Junior Stocks and Shares ISA: ISA savings account for your children.
- Lifetime ISA: An ISA account that people typically use for their first home or retirement.
- Share Dealing Account: This is an account that’s ideal for people who are already happy with their ISA and SIPP allowance.
After choosing one of their products, you can then choose their portfolio options.
AJ Bell will automatically create a portfolio based on your personal preferences or circumstances.
These are the options available:
- AJ Bell Growth Fund: This involves selecting a level of risk options from cautious to global growth. Choosing a riskier level can mean a bigger gain but it can also lead to a bigger loss.
- AJ Bell Responsible Growth Fund: This one pays more attention to the environment and society. Your investment will be allocated into shares, fixed-income assets like bonds, alternatives, and cash.
- AJ Bell Income Fund: A great option for those ready to retire or want to get passive income. The bar is set to 4% of constant income per year. It consists of 61% shares and 33% bonds.
- AJ Bell Favourite Funds: If you want to have a more hands-on approach, then this option will help you stay active. AJ Bell will provide you with selections that are economical, achievable, and proven to turn a positive margin.
- AJ Bell Ethical Investment Fund: AJ Bell’s award-winning ethical fund has proven to have a return rate of 240% in the year 2022.
Research Services & Tools on AJ Bell
AJ Bell has a great range of informative tools on its site to aid first-time traders and users. There are regular blog posts, tutorial videos, and weekly podcasts to keep you updated on the finance world.
An additional service is their free Shares magazine that you can get if you have at least £4,000 across all your accounts. Overall, their research resources are moderately helpful for clients of all levels.
Aside from that, they still have the same industry-standard tools for research such as Quickrank, Financial Market Diary, Dividend Dashboard, Portfolio Manager, and X-Ray Vision.
However, its tools are a little scattered. This might be because the platform’s strength is in its portfolios. They expect their experts to do the heavy lifting for research, and tailor their site for clients who want a more hands-off approach.
Is AJ Bell Expensive?
Overall, AJ Bell is competitively priced compared to its peers for clients who want to save money for retirement.
Here are some of the fees you will be charged on AJ Bell, according to their product range.
- ISA fees:
- Custody fee: 0.25% on the first £250,000 with a maximum cap of £7.50 per quarter, 0.1% for the next £250,000 to £500,000, no charge on funds after £500,000 or cash.
- Payaway rates for cash in accounts: 0% for below £10,000, 0.05% for £10,000 – £50,000, 0.1% for £50,000 – £100,000, 0.15% for above £100,000
- Transaction fees: To buy and sell Stocks and Shares ISA you’ll be charged £1.50 for funds online, £9.95 for shares, £4.95 for shares after 10 deals in the previous month, £1.50 dividend reinvestment.
- SIPP fees:
- Custody fee: 0.25% on the first £250,000 with a maximum cap of £25 per quarter or £10 per month, 0.1% for the next £250,000 to £500,000, no charge on funds after £500,000.
- Interest rates paid on cash in accounts: 1.85% gross / 1,86% AER for £10,000 and below, 2.60% / 2.63% AER for above £10,000
- Buying and selling: You’ll be charged £1.50 for funds online, £9.95 for shares, and £4.95 for shares after 10 deals in the previous month.
Transferring & Withdrawal
If you have an existing SIPP account, pension, or ISA account, there’s a chance that you can seamlessly transfer it to your AJ Bell account. You can transfer for up to £500 per customer, but you need at least £20,000 in your account.
The transfer takes about 2 to 12 weeks, depending on your investment. Usually, cash takes a shorter amount of time than shares or other investment types. The location of your investment also will affect the length of time needed.
If you want to withdraw money from your AJ Bell Stocks and Shares ISA or share dealing account, you can log into your account and click withdrawals. The money will arrive within five working days from your transaction.
Safety & Security
When it comes to safety and security, AJ Bell is as safe as you want your provider to be.
Customer Support Review
AJ Bell is rated 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot. Almost all of the reviews mentioned courteous and efficient handling of complaints by the AJ Bell team.
You can get in touch with AJ Bell via their live chat service, but for questions regarding your accounts, you should contact them via email or phone.
Their phone service is available only from 8 AM to 7 PM Monday to Friday, and 10 AM to 2 PM Saturday.
Who Should Use AJ Bell?
AJ Bell is much more suited for those who are looking to save their money in the long run and are passive investors. They’re great for people who want to create a fund for their children.
AJ Bell’s portfolio options also make the platform ideal for beginners to start diving into investing.
But if you’re an active investor, I don’t recommend you open an account in AJ Bell. Seeing that they do have higher transaction fees, which can be costly compared to being a passive investor.
Alternatives to AJ Bell
AJ Bell is great for people who want to create a retirement fund. But here are several alternatives that you may also want to consider:
- Interactive Investor: The lower fees make this option ideal for those who have large investments.
- Hargreaves Lansdown: Another leading investment platform with great pension and investment products. The platform has higher costs but is superior in terms of services, tools, and research.
- Fidelity International: A UK-based stockbroker with low fund fees and trading fees. The site also offers great research tools and a user-friendly interface. On the other hand, it has very limited products and a high minimum deposit.
Pros & Cons
- Competitive pricing
- A quick and easy sign-up process
- Free withdrawals
- Easy to use
- Versatile portfolios are available
- Limited option for active traders who seek information on research
AJ Bell Review – Final Thoughts
Overall, the platform serves as one of the best in the game for retirement funds.
If you have limited trading experience and want a more hands-off, conservative approach to investment – consider AJ Bell.
Remember that they focus more on the long game, so be patient and reap the rewards in the future.
Hopefully, with this review, you can determine whether or not AJ Bell is for you.
Can I trust AJ Bell?
AJ Bell is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and it is one of the UK’s largest and most highly regarded investment platforms. With over 460,000 customers who trust them with £73.8 billion of assets, they have established a strong reputation in the industry.
How safe is my money with AJ Bell?
AJ Bell holds your money only in FCA-approved banks, ensuring a secure arrangement. Your cash is protected under the FCA rules and is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, subject to specific limits.
Is AJ Bell any good?
Yes, AJ Bell is good for more hands-off and long-term investing. AJ Bell is widely recognised as one of the top investment platforms in the UK. With a strong reputation and a large customer base, they are considered to be a reliable and respected choice for managing investments.