Charles Stanley Direct review

Charles Stanley Direct is an investment platform that lets you invest in a range of different types of investment. Find out how it works and what we think in our review.

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What is Charles Stanley Direct?

Charles Stanley Direct is Charles Stanley’s online investment platform. It has a range of different products available, including individual savings accounts and pensions, both of which we explain in more detail below.

In terms of investment approaches, you can choose to create a DIY portfolio or choose a ready-made one.

What products does Charles Stanley offer?

  • General investment account. Invest without any limits. No tax advantages.
  • Stocks and shares ISA. Lets you invest with your annual ISA allowance.
  • Junior ISA (JISA). An ISA for your kids.
  • Self-invested personal pension (SIPP). Lets you save up for your retirement.

General investment account

Charles Stanley’s general investment account is its most basic account. People usually choose it once they’ve used up all of their ISA allowance, as you have to pay tax on any profits over £6,000.

Charles Stanley ISA

The Charles Stanley ISA lets you use your ISA allowance. You can invest up to this amount in each tax year without having to pay tax on your profits. The ISA allowance for the 2023/2024 tax year is £20,000.

You can only pay into one of each type of ISA in each tax year, and the combined amount paid in shouldn’t exceed £20,000.

We have a whole guide on stocks and shares ISAs if you want to find out more.

Charles Stanley JISA

The JISA is the same as an ISA, except it’s for children. A parent or guardian can set up a JISA, and anyone can pay into it.

There’s a different allowance for JISAs. In the 2023/2024 tax year the JISA allowance is £9,000.

Charles Stanley SIPP

A Charles Stanley SIPP can help you save up for your retirement. You can get tax relief for what you pay, and additional and higher rate taxpayers might be able to claim up to 20-25% through their tax return. Plus, the government adds 10% to your contribution.

You can contribute up to £60,000 each year, depending on your salary.

You can’t start withdrawing from your SIPP until you turn 55.

With the Charles Stanley SIPP, you can choose what you want to invest in. You can use the ready-made portfolios or choose from Charles Stanley Direct’s Foundation Fundlist.

We have a whole guide on SIPPs if you want to find out more.

Ready-made portfolios

Charles Stanley Direct has a selection of ready-made portfolios called “multi asset funds”.

This is a set of five funds, each with different risk profiles. These funds are designed to meet broad investment objectives – you just need to choose which one suits you and you’re good to go.

These ready-made portfolios each hold a diverse range of investments in a single fund and are actively managed by Charles Stanley’s investment team. The diversity in the portfolio means that you don’t have all your eggs in one basket and aren’t reliant on specific investments or areas.

Growth funds target assets that are expected to increase in value over time.

The four growth funds are:

  • Cautious. Lowest risk. Aims to beat inflation plus 1%.
  • Balanced. Medium risk. Aims to beat inflation plus 2%.
  • Growth. Medium-high risk. Aims to beat inflation plus 3%.
  • Adventurous. Higher risk. Aims to beat inflation plus 4%.

Here’s more of a breakdown of each portfolio:

High income funds are designed to create a cash flow or “income”. Charles Stanley Direct only has one income fund. It aims to beat inflation and provide an income.

Here’s how it’s made up:

DIY portfolios

If you want to choose investments yourself, then you can go for Charles Stanley’s DIY option. There’s a list of 3,000 funds, UK shares, overseas shares, gilts, bonds, investment trusts and ETFs to choose from. You can find funds with the Foundation Fundlist.

Foundation Fundlist

The Foundation Fundlist is a list of preferred investments across the major sectors. These have been selected by Charles Stanley’s investment team.

You can filter the funds in several ways, such as by actively managed funds, passive investments, socially responsible funds and funds that have been viewed the most.

Charles Stanley Direct features

Some of the features of Charles Stanley Direct include:

  • Stocks, shares, funds, investment trusts and ETFs for trading
  • Factsheets about funds and shares
  • Market data, indices and sector breakdown
  • A selection of ready-made portfolios for beginners
  • DIY option for more experienced investors
  • Socially responsible and ESG choices
  • A loyalty programme that gets you extra perks

Charles Stanley Direct fees

Administration fees

£0£0£0£100 + VAT (free if assets exceed £30,000)

Platform fees

Investment typeFee
Stocks and shares0.35% per annum (minimum £2, maximum £20 per month)
Funds0.35% per annum (less if you have more than £250,000 in your account)

Dealing fees

Fee typeFee
Share dealing fee£11.50/trade
Fund dealing feeFree

Is Charles Stanley Direct safe?

Charles Stanley Direct is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which means that up to £85,000 of your deposits are covered if Charles Stanley goes bust.

Charles Stanley Direct is also regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Charles Stanley Direct customer reviews

Finder surveyed Charles Stanley Direct customers in December 2020.

A lot of customers said that Charles Stanley has good customer service and that it’s a great platform that’s easy to use. A couple of people mentioned that it’s a safe provider to use.

Pros and cons


  • Good for both inexperienced and experienced investors
  • Plenty of product choices
  • No charge for fund dealing


  • Expensive share trading

Our verdict: Is Charles Stanley Direct any good?

Charles Stanley Direct is a platform that is suitable for both beginner and experienced investors. It has a decent range of portfolios if you’re not interested or experienced enough to choose your own investments, but it also has a large choice of investments to pick from if you want to do it yourself.

We like that the socially responsible investments are easy to find and filter by. The main downside would be the high share dealing fees, but if you want to trade funds, it’s free, which is a nice touch.

All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please seek out a financial adviser. Capital at risk.

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