How to buy shares in a company

Want to know how to buy shares in a company and you're in the UK? Follow these 7 simple steps and you'll be a share owner.

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.

How to buy shares

Buying shares in a company is actually pretty simple. Follow these 7 simple steps to get started:

  1. Choose an online share-dealing platform
  2. Sign up for an account
  3. Choose the shares you want to buy
  4. Place your order to buy shares
  5. Pay for the transaction
  6. Monitor the performance of your shares
  7. Sell your shares (if you want to)

Step 1: Choose an online share-dealing platform

First things first: you’ll need to find a broker to buy and sell shares. These days, most people go for an online share-dealing platform (AKA an online broker), although you can still find brokers that work face-to-face or over the phone in the UK.

The right online share-dealing platform for you will depend on how confident you are when investing, whether you want to do it all yourself, and what fees are involved for the volume of trading you’re looking at.

Ask yourself these questions to help you choose:

  • Are you happy to buy and sell shares on your own?
  • Do you want to be given ideas or are you happy to find them yourself?
  • How much research and information do you need?
  • What is the pricing structure?

Your choice could also depend on what else you want to trade. Will you be buying funds (such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs)) alongside individual shares, for example? Do you use investment trusts? Check that the online broker you pick can meet your needs.

Use our table to compare some of the UK’s leading brokers

Table: sorted by promoted deals first
Name Product Price per trade Frequent trader rate Platform fees Brand description
Fineco
UK: £2.95
US: $3.95
EU: €3.95
N/A
£0
Your first 100 trades are free with Fineco (T&Cs apply)
Fineco Bank is good for share traders and investors looking for a complete platform and wide offer. The minimum deposit with Fineco is £0. Capital at risk.
eToro Free Stocks
£0
N/A
£0
Capital at risk. 0% commission but other fees may apply. The minimum deposit with eToro is $200.
Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share Account
£11.95
£5.95
£0
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's number one platform for private investors, with the depth of features you'd expect from an established platform. The minimum deposit with HL is £1. Capital at risk.
Degiro Share Dealing
UK: £1.75 + 0.014% (max £5)
US: €0.50 + $0.004 per share
N/A
£0
Degiro is widely seen as one of the best low-cost share brokers, for people who are looking to trade regularly. The minimum deposit with Degiro is £0. Capital at risk.
interactive investor Trading Account
£7.99 (with one free trade per month)
N/A
£9.99 per month
Interactive Investor offers everything most investors need. Its flat fees makes it pricey for small portfolios, but cheap for big ones. The minimum deposit with ii is £0. Capital at risk.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Minimum deposit Maximum annual fee Price per trade Brand description
InvestEngine stocks and shares ISA
£100
0.25%
£0
Offer - £50 welcome bonus for new customers. Subject to minimum investment. T&Cs apply. Capital at risk.
Moneybox stocks and shares ISA
£1
0.45% and £1 monthly subscription fee (free for first 3 months)
£0
Moneybox offers a smart and simple way to invest. Sign up in minutes and start investing with £1 via their award-winning app. Capital at risk.
interactive investor stocks and shares ISA
Any lump sum or £25 a month
£119.88
£7.99
Interactive Investor offers everything most investors need. Its flat fees makes it pricey for small portfolios, but cheap for big ones. Capital at risk.
Nutmeg stocks and shares ISA
£100
0.75%
N/A
Nutmeg offers three types of portfolios. Choose the one that goes with your investment style. Capital at risk.
Hargreaves Lansdown stocks and shares ISA
£100
0.45%
£11.95
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got everything you'll need, from beginners to experienced investors. Capital at risk.
Moneyfarm stocks and shares ISA
£1500
0.75%
£0
Moneyfarm helps you meet your investment goals with fully-managed portfolios designed around you. Capital at risk.
Fidelity Stocks and Shares ISA
£1000 or a regular savings plan from £50
0.35%
£10.00
Fidelity is another good all-rounder, offering a good package at a decent price. Not suited for trading shares. Capital at risk.
Legal & General stocks and shares ISA
Legal & General stocks and shares ISA
£100 or £20 a month
0.61%
N/A
Legal & General is a big financial services company which offers insurance, lifetime mortgage, pensions and stocks and shares ISAs. Capital at risk.
AJ Bell Stocks and Shares ISA
£500
0.25%
£9.95
AJ Bell is a good all-rounder for people who to choose between shares, funds, ISAs and pensions. Capital at risk.
Saxo Markets stocks and shares ISA
No minimum deposit requirement
0.12%
£8.00
Saxo Markets offers a wide access to a range of stocks, ETFs and funds. Capital at risk.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Minimum investment Choose from Fee for a £50,000 pension pot Brand description
Interactive Investor Pension
Any lump sum or £25 a month
Over 3,000 funds
Annual fee: £239.88, fund fees: £50-500
interactive investor is a flat-fee platform, which makes it cost effective for larger portfolios. Capital at risk.
Moneyfarm Pension
£1,500 (initial investment)
7 funds
0.35%-0.75%
Moneyfarm has pensions that are matched against your risk appetite, goals and planned retirement date. Capital at risk.
AJ Bell Pension
£1,000
Over 2,000 funds
Annual fee: £125, includes fund fees
AJ Bell has two different pension options, a self managed pension and one that is managed for you. Capital at risk.
PensionBee Pension
No minimum
9 funds
Annual fee: £250-475, includes fund fees
Pension Bee is a newbie in the pension market. It helps consolidate your pension plans into one place. Capital at risk.
Hargreaves Lansdown Pension
£100 or £25 a month
2,500 funds
Annual fee: £225 (£200 cap if holding shares), fund fees included
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got three different retirement options. Capital at risk.
Saxo Markets Pension
Saxo Markets Pension
£10
Over 11,000 funds
No annual fee
Saxo Markets gives flexibility and control over your investment strategy. Capital at risk.
Penfold
Penfold
No minimum
4 portfolios
Annual fee: £375-455, fund fees included
Moneybox Pension
£1
3 funds
Annual fee: £225, fund fee: £60
Manage your money with an easy-to-use Moneybox app. Capital at risk.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Step 2: Sign up for an account

Once you’ve chosen a platform you’ll need to register for an account. This step is usually free, but keep in mind that some providers may charge subscription fees or other ongoing fees for features such as market research.

The registration process takes place online and if you’re a new customer you’ll usually need to provide:

  • Personal details – your name, email, date of birth, address, national insurance number and employment status.
  • ID – such as your passport.
  • Payment details – either a bank transfer, debit card or credit card that you’ll use to fund your share-dealing account.

Finder also has a guide that goes into more detail about how to open a share-dealing account.

Step 3: Choose the shares you want to buy

To begin with, you should identify companies on the stock market whose shares you want to buy, and then monitor the share performance over time.

When re-evaluating the company before you invest, ask yourself some questions. Has the share price changed since you first looked at it? If so, are you happy to buy it at the new price? It’s worth checking the headlines or recent company announcements to make sure no new risks have emerged. And remember, only invest what you can afford to, as the value of shares can go down as well as up.

In general, if you’re starting out, invest in companies you understand. The latest technology stock may look really good, but do you understand how it makes its money?

Equally, make sure you’re buying for the right reasons – is it because you want exposure to a fast-growing company or just because someone has told you it seems like a good idea?

Step 4: Place your order to buy shares

Once you’ve decided which shares to buy, purchasing them is usually the easy bit! If you’re in your online account, you’ll get offered a price and can just click a button to “deal now”. You’ll receive a contract note shortly afterwards.

Step 5: Pay for the transaction

You’ll need to have sufficient funds in your online share trading account to cover the cost of the transaction, including the brokerage fees that apply.

A bit about dealing charges

Typically, you’ll pay a one-off charge for buying and selling shares. If this is a fixed amount (say £10), it becomes more economical on larger share purchases.

Alternatively, some brokers charge a percentage of the assets that you hold on the platform. You’ll need to crunch the numbers to work out which one of these options is likely to suit you best.

You should also factor in 0.5% of the value of the trade for Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT).

For a bit of light reading, you can check out our guide to investment fees – which will explain all the industry terms you’re likely to come across.

Step 6: Monitor the performance of your shares

There are two ways you make money from investing: one is from an increase in the capital value of the shares, the other is when the shares pay dividends.

You’ll need to monitor the performance of your shares, and the frequency with which you monitor them will depend on your investment strategy. For example, if you have a long-term investment strategy, you may only check in and see how your shares are performing every month. If you have a medium-term strategy, it may be a good idea to check each night or each week. Whichever option you choose, you can review the performance of your investments by logging into your online trading account.

You may also want to set limits on your share trades. For example, you could set an automatic sell if the shares lose more than 10% or gain more than 50% of their value. This will limit how much money you can lose, or it may prompt you to sell out when the shares get ahead of themselves.

Step 7: Sell your shares (if you want to)

When you decide to sell your shares, the process is very similar to the method of buying shares described in Step 4. When you’re logged into your online trading account you’ll be able to select an option to sell your shares at the current market price. You will receive the appropriate confirmation that your stock has been sold, and the revenue from the sale will arrive in your online account.

And that’s it, you now know how to buy shares in the UK! All that’s left to do is put these steps into action and you’ll own shares in a company in no time.

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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