IG has been around for a while – since 1974 to be exact and has almost 200,000 clients. It’s a CFD broker, an ISA provider and a pension provider all rolled into one. Despite what it says on the tin, IG is not really for novices. It’s got incredible depth in its web app and platform, which could be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to investing.
That being said, IG does offer hand-holding “Smart Portfolios” for those who would prefer to have their investments managed for them. IG has been listed as one of our best trading apps of 2020.
(Word to the wise – steer clear of the spread betting and CFD options IG is offering if you’re new to investing! This is risky territory. If you’re an experienced investor and came here to read about these, we’ve covered them below.)
IG offers three product choices:
IG General Investment
IG Smart Portfolio ISA
IG Smart Portfolio SIPP
Once you’ve decided on the product, IG then offers two main ways to invest:
Share Dealing. You make your own investment decisions.
Smart Portfolios. Lets you pick a ready-made portfolio which is managed on your behalf.
IG Share Dealing
If you opt for IG Share Dealing you can buy and sell shares, funds and investment trusts, with over 10,000 to choose from.
The prices are pretty low. US shares have no commission, while UK shares can cost as little as £3 if you trade three or more times in the previous month (£8 usually). You can trade outside of the US stock market’s trading hours as well.
What can I invest in with IG Share Dealing?
Companies. There are thousands of different companies that you can buy shares in.
Exchange traded funds (ETFs). IG has 2,000 eligible ETFs that you can invest in to allow you to get exposure to the UK equity market from just 0.4%. IG has an ETF screener on its website, which lets you track sectors and find what you are looking for. If you’re not sure what an ETF is, we have a handy guide.
Investment trusts. IG has investment trusts to give you exposure to a wide range of markets.
IG Smart Portfolios
If you choose IG Smart Portfolios, you can invest in a managed portfolio that matches your attitude to risk. You answer a set of questions about your knowledge and experience of investing and your investment goals. You are matched to a portfolio based on your answers to these questions.
Once you have taken the questionnaire, IG will ask about how much you intend to invest and how long you want to invest it for. It also asks how much money you have set aside as an emergency fund and won’t match you to a portfolio if you have less than three months worth.
IG Smart Portfolio review IG’s Smart Portfolios are available if you don’t fancy managing your own portfolio, such as if you’re a beginner or not very in-the-know about investing. It gives some helpful insight into what you are invested in, sorted by asset class, sector and location, and lets you make decisions on your attitude to risk and your financial goals.
The mobile app can give you some information on your investments, but don’t tend to be as helpful as the browser view for those with a Smart Portfolio, as it appears to have been designed with share dealing in mind.
IG Smart Portfolios vs IG Share Dealing: Which should I go for?
If you’re new to investing, you might be wondering what the difference is between the two types of investment with IG.
It depends on what you want to do. People would usually choose IG Share Dealing if they wanted to buy and sell shares in companies and are happy to spend time making adjustments on their investments. You don’t have to be an experienced investor to go for this option, but you’re much more likely to be one.
Meanwhile, IG’s “Smart Portfolios” offer some help in your investments by matching you up to a pre-made portfolio. There’s a risk questionnaire that you can fill out to find out more about your risk appetite and to help IG understand what you want to get out of your investments. IG forms your portfolio on your behalf with this information.
IG stocks and shares ISA are available via a share dealing account or a ready-made IG Smart Portfolio.
As with all ISAs, you have an allowance for the tax year which you can use to invest tax-free. The allowance for the 2019/2020 tax year is £20,000. This means that you can invest up to £20,000 tax-free.
Features of IG’s ISA include:
Flexibility. You can withdraw funds without reducing your ISA allowance.
Free to open. There aren’t any transfer or exit fees either.
Wide choice of investments. Choose from over 12,000 global stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs).
No custody fee. Buy or sell trades three or more times in a quarter and IG will waive the custody fee (usually £24).
IG ISA review On the whole, IG’s ISA is a strong competitor. It offers exactly what most people are looking for in am ISA, but only if you plan to make several trades each quarter. Its main drawback is the custody fee, which is only waived if you make more than three trades in a quarter. It could set you back £96 per year, which is considered to be pretty pricey compared with other ISAs.
IG’s SIPP allows you to invest in your future with tax benefits. Your pension is locked until you turn 55. Features of IG’s Share Dealing SIPP include:
Invest up to £40,000 in the 2019/2020 tax year with at least 20% tax relief on your contributions and no capital gains or income tax to pay.
Invest in domestic and international shares and ETFs.
Transfer one or more pensions from other pension providers.
IG’s technology helps you find lower prices when buying shares.
If you want to invest for your future but don’t want to play around with share dealing, IG offers a Smart Portfolio SIPP.
Features of the IG Smart Portfolio SIPP include:
Invest up to £40,000 with at least 20% tax relief on your contributions.
Get diversified global exposure.
Benefit from regular adjustments made by BlackRock.
Administered by James Hay.
Portfolio is matched to your risk profile.
IG General Investment
You can open a General Investment account with IG that allows you to make taxable investments outside of your ISA allowance. People usually go for this option if they’ve used up their annual ISA allowance as they may need to pay capital gains tax on their profits.
Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
You can trade contracts for difference (CFDs) with IG. A fair warning, in case you didn’t see it earlier: CFDs are complicated and risky, so aren’t really suitable for beginners. We won’t be offended if you skip this section, honestly. Now we’ve got that out of the way. The CFD section of IG’s site is a bit overwhelming with all the blue and red flashing as the buy/sell prices change, but it’s really just a sign of how comprehensive it is in this area. It’s got loads of live data and newsfeeds to keep you up to date on what’s going on in the market to help you make better decisions. You can trade on indices, foreign exchange (forex), shares and commodities with IG and never have to own the underlying asset. Main benefits include:
Negative balance protection. This ensures that your account balance doesn’t stay below zero. It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t available for professional traders.
Expert support. 24 hours a day from 8am Saturday to 10pm Friday.
Web-based platform and mobile apps available.
Educational resources. These are through IG Academy, which is detailed below.
IG CFD charges and fees
The only direct charge you really need to worry about is the spread (a commission in the case of share CFDs). IG charges its own spread on top of the market spread as its fee for the trade. Ultimately, this depends on market conditions. You can see the spread, as it’s the difference between the bid and ask prices. Overnight funding This is the charge for keeping your CFD positions past 10pm UK time. This charge is added to your account as an interest adjustment. You don’t pay overnight funding for futures or forwards as it’s built into the spread. Guaranteed stop premiums You can attach guaranteed stops to your position to help protect your investments. IG charges a fee if it is triggered. This is called the premium. Extra services There are some extra services that IG charges you for if you use them. These are listed below and you can find details on the website.
Direct Market Access (DMA)
Live price data fees
Account documentation fee
Currency conversion charge
Third-party charges (such as fees for credit and non-UK debit card payments)
Does IG have an app?
You can use the IG app or the website to manage everything – check stock performance, set alerts and find out about significant events when they happen. IG has made it customisable to suit your preferences and has integrated a live news and Twitter feed to keep you up to date with the stock market.
IG fees and charges
The fees you are charged to use IG depend on whether you choose to use IG Smart Portfolios or IG Share Dealing. The additional fees, such as fund costs, transaction costs and foreign exchange costs are explained in more detail below.
IG Smart Portfolio fees
IG Management Fee
Average fund costs
Up to £50,000
IG trading fees
Cost of shares
Type of share
3+ trades per month
Explanation of what each fee is for
There are management fees on IG Smart Portfolios, IG ISAs and IG SIPPs. These costs are for:
Fractional dealing technology
These are the costs to trade with exchange traded funds (ETFs). ETFs have an ongoing charge, which IG deducts from the value of your fund. This isn’t a set amount, but usually averages around 0.15%.
Transaction costs cover the difference in price when IG buy and sell the funds to rebalance your portfolio. It estimates this to be 0.07%.
When converting dividends paid in foreign currency back into GBP, IG charges a 0.50% foreign exchange fee.
Quarterly account fee
Foreign exchange conversion fee
Commission on trades placed over the phone
IG demo account
Demo accounts allow you to get an idea of share trading before you start investing real money. This is often popular with beginner investors who are hesitant while they don’t know exactly how it works.
Annoyingly, IG’s demo account is only available for its spread betting and CFD trading services, which is pretty complicated territory. You can try it out with £10,000 in virtual funds to see how it works and get an idea of what the platform allows you to do. We liked that the platform is customisable. It allows you to choose your layout and watch markets that you’re interested in.
The charts are helpful, as they give detailed information on the movements. That is, if you know how to read them. This is where IG Academy can come in handy, as it gives you the opportunity to learn how they work. We briefly cover IG Academy below.
If you’re planning to stay away from spread betting and CFDs (a wise choice if you’re a beginner!) then IGs demo account won’t be of any use to you. A nice alternative is Trading 212‘s demo account, which lets you try out share trading with £50,000 in virtual money. There’s no requirement to use Trading 212 for the real thing, so you’re more than welcome to come back and use IG when trading in real life, if you wanted to.
“IG Academy” is IG’s educational offering. It has online trading courses, webinars and seminars to give you a little leg-up in investments. This is handy, as investing can be complicated, especially when you have as many options available as IG offers.
The online trading courses have videos and interactive quizzes and exercises. There are frequent live sessions, which are webinars where IG’s experts share their knowledge and insight. This gives you the chance to ask questions about share trading.
IG Academy has its own app, which means that you can learn about share trading and investing on the go. It’s pretty simple to use and gives you info on how long each section will take.
Is IG safe?
IG is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and your investments are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so if IG were to go bust, you are covered up to £85,000. IG is a trusted provider and is an established FTSE250 company that’s been running for 45 years.
Customer reviews and complaints
IG has mostly positive reviews online, particularly for its app.
The wealth of information and ease of use received praise from customers, whereas the app’s interface and the customer support levels left some unimpressed.
Here are the company’s scores across a number of review platforms (updated on 28 May 2020):
Apple App Store
3.5 out of 5 Based on 2,500 reviews
4 out of 5 Based on 7,000 reviews
4.6 out of 5 Based on 4,000 reviews
IG has a simple structure and caters for experienced investors and those with less experience that want a bit of help in managing their portfolios. The fees are relatively low, depending on what you plan to do. For share dealing, you pay a set amount when you buy and sell and with the portfolios, you pay a percentage based on how much you are investing.
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. Capital is at risk.
Frequently asked questions
As soon as IG receives dividend payments for any shares that you own, it deposits money into your account. You can choose whether you want to reinvest the money or withdraw it.
If your account is inactive for 24 months then it is closed. IG then charges a monthly £12 inactivity fee if there are still funds in the account. As the IG Smart Portfolios are rebalanced every few months by the IG team (which counts as activity), you aren’t charged inactivity fees for them.
This depends on where your withdrawal is going to. If you are withdrawing by bank transfer or to a PayPal account, it should reach your account on the same day as your request. Withdrawals to a card take between two and five working days to clear.
You can do this once logged into your account. You can add money by card, bank transfer or PayPal.
Yes you can. IG is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Best for beginners (Capital at risk)
Open an account, get some tips from the experts and trade anytime and anywhere when you download the app.
Zoe is a writer for Finder specialising in investment and banking. Zoe has a BA in English literature and several years of experience in writing about all things personal finance. She has a particular love for spreadsheets, having also worked as a management accountant. In her spare time, you’ll find Zoe skating at her local ice rink.
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