IG review | Share dealing, ISAs and smart portfolios, explained

We take a look at the investment platform to see what you can do with it.

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IG
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 understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
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★★★★★
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★★★★★
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Fees charged for inactivity
IG

Buy and sell US shares with no commission with IG

Capital at risk, investments may fall

  • Invest in over 10,000 shares, funds and investment trusts
  • Low costs - Zero commission on US shares, £3 on UK shares
  • Support available 24 hours a day from Sunday to Friday
  • Open an account in a few minutes through website or app
Promoted

What is IG?

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:

  1. IG General Investment
  2. IG Smart Portfolio ISA
  3. 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 ISAs

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 SIPPs

    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.

    IG CFDs

    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.
    • Competitive spreads.
    • 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
    • ProRealTime Charts
    • Inactivity fee
    • 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

    Investment amountIG Management FeeAverage fund costsTransaction costsTotal (annual)
    Up to £50,0000.50%0.15%0.07%0.72%
    Over £50,000Free0.15%0.07%0.22%

    IG trading fees

    Cost of shares

    Type of shareStandard3+ trades per month
    US shares£10Free
    UK shares£8Free

      Explanation of what each fee is for

    Other fees

    Fee descriptionFee
    Quarterly account fee£24
    Foreign exchange conversion fee0.5%
    Commission on trades placed over the phone£40

    IG App Demo Account

    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 app

    IG Academy

    “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 28 May 2020):

    Trustpilot Google Play 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

    Pros and cons of IG

    Pros

    • Suits beginner and experienced investors
    • Low fees
    • Mobile app lets you manage your investments on the go

    Cons

    • Opening your account is a slow process
    • Fees charged for inactivity

    Our verdict

    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.

    Similar platforms

    Table: sorted by promoted deals first
    Data indicated here is updated regularly
    Name Product Price per trade Frequent trader rate Platform fees Brand description
    Fineco
    £2.95
    £2.95
    Zero platform fee
    Your first 50 trades are free with Fineco, until 31/12/2020. T&Cs apply.
    Fineco Bank is good for share traders and investors looking for a complete platform and wide offer. Capital at risk.
    IG
    0% commission on US shares, and £3 on UK shares
    From £5
    £0 - £24 per quarter
    IG is good for experienced traders, and offers learning resources for beginners, all with wide access to shares, ETFs and funds. Capital at risk.
    eToro Free Stocks
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    Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share Account
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    Cashback offer: Take control of your money and transfer investments to HL – get cashback as a thank you. Terms apply.
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    Interactive Investor
    From £7.99 on the Investor Service Plan
    From £7.99 on the Investor Service Plan
    No transfer fees or exit fees. £9.99 a month on the Investor Service Plan
    Open an ISA, Trading Account or SIPP you will get £100 of free trades to buy or sell any investment (new customers only).
    Interactive Investor offers everything most investors need. Its flat fees makes it pricey for small portfolios, but cheap for big ones. Capital at risk.
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    Data indicated here is updated regularly
    Name Product Minimum deposit Maximum annual fee Price per trade Brand description
    Moneyfarm stocks and shares ISA
    £1500
    0.75%
    £0
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Nutmeg stocks and shares ISA
    £100
    0.75%
    £0
    Nutmeg offers three types of portfolios. Choose the one that goes with your investment style. 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.
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    Data indicated here is updated regularly
    Name Product Minimum investment Choose from Annual fee Brand description
    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
    0.05-0.25%
    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
    7 funds
    0.5% - 0.95%
    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
    0-0.45%
    Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got three different retirement options. Capital at risk.
    Interactive Investor Pension
    Any lump sum or £25 a month
    Over 3,000 funds
    £10/month
    interactive investor is a flat-fee platform, which makes it cost effective for larger portfolios. 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.
    Moneybox Pension
    £1
    3 funds
    0.15% - 0.45% charged monthly
    Manage your money with an easy-to-use Moneybox app. Capital at risk.
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    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.

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