How do we rate share-trading platforms?

Comparing brokers is complicated, so we've rated them. Here's our methodology for scoring the features that matter, plus details of our customer survey.

To help find you the best trading platforms, our team analyses dozens of features for each one. We use this analysis to create our expert star ratings and to determine our top “best for” picks. We also survey hundreds of customers so you can find out about the service each platform provides, from the people who matter most. We’d love to hear from you if there’s a provider you’d like to see us review and score.

Quick stats

  • Investing platforms we’re analysing: 44
  • Features analysed for each one: 36

What factors do we take into account?

We compare our platforms based on five factors:

  1. Markets and products. This is all about range and depth of features. What investment “wrappers” are on offer (ISA, general account, SIPPs)? What markets can you invest in (UK, US, EU, for example)? Can you invest ethically? We look at all this, and more.
  2. Fees, costs and charges. More on this below, but we look at the range of fees you’ll pay with the provider.
  3. Mobile and desktop features. What is the app like? We check functionality like price notifications and desktop versions.
  4. Learning resources. Can you learn alongside your investing? What tools are on offer? Can you practise using a demo account?
  5. Doing the job it’s meant to do. There is no absolute “best trading app” for everyone, so what we want to help you find is the app that works for you. That’s why we’ve picked an app to suit different types of user – what’s important to a beginner won’t be important to everyone.

A bit about fees

There’s no getting around the fact that a lot of share-trading platforms have a complicated fee structure.

The brokerage fee (sometimes called the commission) can depend on how often you trade each month, how much you spend per trade and which country the stocks you’re buying are from.

Broker fee structures differ across the board.

While some brokers charge a flat fee, others are “tiered”, meaning the more frequently you trade the lower your fee, or percentage-based, where the more you trade the more you pay.

Others are a combination of tiered, percentage-based and flat.

To allow you to compare fees, we calculate the total broker fees you’d pay if you made: less than 10 trades per month; 10 to 19 trades per month; or 20 or more trades a month. We’ve also looked at the amount it would cost you to invest £10,000, £100,000 or (if you’re lucky) £1,000,000.

Finally, we’ve compared the foreign exchange fee for buying overseas stocks and factored that into our scoring.

How do we decide which features are more important?

Each factor in our scoring methodology is weighted.

Our experts base this on user and market research to ensure it reflects what’s important to you.

For instance, whether the platform has a desktop app is less important than whether it charges a hefty inactivity fee.

How do we choose our “best” trading platforms?

Our top picks are displayed across our investing and share-dealing content and feature four of our favourite investing platforms.

The platforms are chosen, using the methodology below, from among our partners. We exclude providers known as “robo advisers” which do everything for you – with these, you’re not making your own investments directly in the stock market (examples are Nutmeg, Moneyfarm and Moneybox).

What are we looking for in our “best for” categories?

Does Finder compare all investing platforms in the market?

We already list most of the UK’s popular and well-regarded online brokers and we’re adding more all the time.

You may have noticed that some of our share dealing pages, tables and provider reviews come with “Customers say” star ratings. These are customer satisfaction ratings, where we asked consumers to tell us whether a service they were receiving from that company was any good.

“Customers say” star ratings – calculated from our customer satisfaction survey

In July 2020, Finder ran an independent customer satisfaction survey about share dealing platforms. We polled 780 customers who told us how happy they were with a platform they had used within the previous 12 months. We then turned their answers into a rating of between one and five stars.

And here’s how we did it…

Customer satisfaction ratings methodology

The survey asked respondents how satisfied they were with their share dealing provider on a scale from one to five, and also whether they would recommend that company to a friend or not.

We turned the answers into an overall star rating that takes into account:

  • How many people would recommend the company versus how many people wouldn’t. If you say you’d recommend your share dealing provider to a friend, it must mean it’s really good. So this forms 50% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
  • The proportion of people who rated a provider five out of five. Wow, five out of five? This counts for 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
  • The average rating each share dealing platform got. This tells us if a provider offers a solid service even though it doesn’t have loads of five out of five scores. This parameter forms the last 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.

The final rating was then rounded to the nearest half star, to give the following one to five customer satisfaction range:

★★★★★ – Excellent

★★★★★ – Good

★★★★★ – Average

★★★★★ – Subpar

★★★★★ – Poor

More guides on Finder

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