Investing in the stock market used to be an inaccessible world full of jargon, stockbrokers and expensive fees. This used to be only available to only the very richest or smartest people. Not anymore, however, as there has been an explosion in great (and affordable) options for people who don’t have massive portfolios. Today, we have two platforms to compare; one a newer upstart and the other a formidable FTSE100 beast. Who will win?
- Quick summary
- The head to head: Wealthify vs Hargreaves Lansdown
- Conclusion: Hargreaves Lansdown vs Wealthify
- Alternatives to Hargreaves Lansdown and Wealthify
Hargreaves Lansdown* is best for people who want more control over their investments and lower fees
Wealthify is best for people with less than £1,000 to invest who want a “set it and forget it” approach to investing
- Huge investment selection
- Wide range of accounts (incl Lifetime ISA)
- Low cost (if buying funds)
- High share dealing charges if buying individual shares
- High minimum for Portfolio+ pre-made portfolios (£1k)
- Low minimum investment
- Ethical investment options
- Restricted choices
- No guidance to find risk appetite
- Comparatively higher fee
The head to head: Wealthify vs Hargreaves Lansdown
Even though the information in the article is accurate at the time of publication, nothing in this article represents financial advice. With all investing, your capital is at risk. Even though we regularly update our content, please do your own research before investing. If you require financial advice, you can search for a regulated and qualified financial advisor via the Personal Finance Society.
How we assess the head to head
In order to compare between investment platforms, we’ve focused on what we think are the most important features for our readers:
- Type and range of available investments
- Ethical investing availability
- Range of accounts
- Customer reviews
- Minimum deposit requirements
- Restrictions on withdrawals
- Platforms available
- FSCS protection
Before we start, it is worth mentioning that Hargreaves Lansdown* is essentially a broker. Their platform enables you to invest in a wide array of investments and funds. They do not manage the investments (the bulk of them anyway) themselves.
With Wealthify, they are a Robo-Advisor. They actively manage a set of portfolios. However, these portfolios are developed using a set of underlying funds (with which they don’t manage themselves). They will tweak the portfolio by switching the underlying funds and the allocation to the funds in the portfolios.
Round 1: Investment Options
There is a massive range of options to invest on the Hargreaves Lansdown* (HL) share dealing and investment platform. HL are the #1 investment platform in the UK and have over £120bn under administration from over 1.6m clients. They’re also in the FTSE100, and have won multiple awards (such as the “Best Investment Platform 2021” at the Your Money Awards).
On the HL platform you can invest in:
- UK and international shares
- Investment trusts
Additionally, HL has a range of pre-made portfolios based on risk level called Portfolio+ or “Master Portfolio”.
Portfolio+ is HL’s similar option to Wealthify. This is where they have a set of pre-made portfolios. You select one depending on your risk profile. These portfolios are made up of multiple funds, aiming to give you diversification built-in.
A Master Portfolio is very similar. A ready made portfolio you select based on your risk appetite. However, with the Master Portfolios you can then go off and edit, update and manage your portfolio. For example, if you wanted to add some individual shares into your portfolio or update the asset allocation.
Both are intended to make entry into the world of investing much easier.
Due to the massive range of options HL offers, the classic funds that come up a lot are all there: the Vanguard Lifestrategy series as an example.
As well as the above, HL also offers:
- Financial advice: it has a team of on-hand financial advisors that can help if you need it (and are willing to pay for it)
- Active savings accounts: an interesting concept that aims to maximise your interest on your cash savings by allowing you to easily pick savings products from multiple banks/building societies without having to open accounts with each.
Wealthify is one of the new breeds of digital-enabled Robo advisors. They use technology and low-cost funds to build a globally diversified managed portfolio at an affordable cost. These underlying funds/ETFs are from leading providers (such as Vanguard, Legal & General and Fidelity International).
These portfolios are managed by a team of qualified investment managers. So there is a level of active management. These managers will rebalance portfolios where needed based on Wealthify’s investment outlook.
However, with Wealthify you cannot construct or edit your own portfolio. Or add individual shares. This might be a good or a bad thing for you depending on your goals!
You select your portfolio based on your risk appetite. There is no investment advice or questionnaire to assess your own risk appetite, so you’ll need to have a feel for this yourself.
They have 5 portfolios to choose from, which Wealthify refer to as your “investment style”. The difference between them is essentially the asset allocation between stocks and bonds. The more “adventurous” funds contain a higher proportion allocated to stocks (>85%), which are generally more volatile in their returns than bonds. Whereas the more cautious bonds have a higher proportion allocated to bonds, which are generally less volatile.
Wealthify is not regulated to give financial advice. If you’re unsure what portfolio to pick or what investment is right for you, they won’t be able to suggest options! If this sounds like you, it might be worth seeking the advice of a financial adviser.
Round 2: Ethical investing
As HL is first and foremost a broker and share dealing platform, you will be able to construct your own portfolio which aligns with your values. If you are willing to put in the time to research and construct your portfolio, then this provides the highest level of control and visibility of what is in your portfolio. Ensuring you feel confident that your investments are aligned with your values.
However, as HL has such a large range of fund and investment options, there are ESG-focused and ethical investments on the platform. They offer ESG-centric funds, Exclusionary funds (ones that don’t invest in certain industries like fossil fuels) and Sustainability-focused and impact investing funds.
They have put together a list of suitable funds, but you will still have to research to find the suitable ones for you. Of course, HLs financial advice service can help you to build this too (but bear in mind this comes with additional costs).
There are ethical investing options for each of Wealthify’s portfolios, using actively managed funds that screen the companies they invest in. These exclude companies that operate in industries such as tobacco, weapons, gambling, nuclear power and companies engaging in unfair labour practices.
As they invest in actively managed funds from the likes of Kames Capital and EdenTree, if there are any changes in the companies in the fund (for example they start to engage in unethical business behaviour or diversify into one of the excluded industries, then the managers of the fund will spot this in their ongoing screening).
It is worth calling out though that the underlying funds may have differing levels of tolerance to excluded behaviours, with some allowing up to 10%. Wealthify has stated in their ethical guide that they always aim for as close to 0% in the funds they select. But bear this in mind when investing. If you’re wanting absolute control over your investments to ensure it is only being invested in ethical companies that are aligned to your values, you may be better served to build your own portfolio using a DIY broker/platform such as Hargreaves Lansdown.
Round 3: Accounts available
With Hargreaves Lansdown, you can open:
- General Investment Account (GIA)
- Stocks and Shares ISA
- Lifetime ISA
- Junior ISA
- Personal Pension
- Cash ISA
- Active Savings Account
On Wealthify, you can open:
- General Investment Account (GIA)
- Stocks and Shares ISA
- Junior ISA
- Personal Pension
Round 4: Fees
The fee structure with HL is fairly convoluted.
For investing in funds; you pay an annual account fee, and also the underlying fund costs you invest in.
The annual account fee is tiered dependent on the amount you have invested. The underlying fund costs vary dependent on what you invest in, and are standard across all platforms/brokers (you’ll notice these in the Wealthify costs below too).
The annual account fee is tiered:
- 0.45% up to £250k invested
- 0.25% between £250k-£1m invested
- 0.1% between £1m-£2m invested
- No charge for +£2m invested
However, if you are looking to buy individual shares, investment trusts, ETFs, bonds or gilts, then you will incur additional share dealing charges (no trading fee or dealing charges on fund investments).
This charge depends on how many trades you are doing a month.
- 0-9 trades = £11.95 per deal
- 10-19 trades = £8.95 per deal
- 20+ = £5.95 per deal
If you use their regular investing feature (i.e set up a direct debit to invest a minimum £25 per month) then the trading charge falls to £1.50 per trade.
Regardless, these individual trading fees can eat up a lot of your returns unless you have a sizeable amount to invest, so bear in mind the impact of these fees before committing to the investment.
The platform has a simple fee structure. They simply charge a 0.60% annual platform fee on the invested amount, with an additional fund fee that is charged by the underlying funds within the Wealthify portfolio. This is 0.16% for the “original” plans and 0.7% for the ethical plans, bringing the total to either 0.76% for the “original” styles or 1.3% for the ethical portfolio.
This means that if you had £10,000 invested in one of their standard “original” styles, you will be charged an annual fee of 0.60% for the platform fee + 0.16% for the underlying funds. For a total of 0.76%.
Round 5: Existing customer reviews
Hargreaves Lansdown have an average 4.2/5 on Trustpilot from 5.4k reviews at the time of writing. Positive reviews mention efficient processing, customer service being prompt and positive feedback about the level of guidance and information available on the site. The negative reviews mention the high trading charges and some bad experiences with customer service.
Wealthify have an average 4.6/5 on Trustpilot from 1.3k reviews at the time of writing. Positive reviews mention things such as the ease of the app/service and the available information helping you to make informed decisions. The poorer reviews mention delays in transferring/switching as well as a common theme around customer service either being too slow and/or not very helpful.
Round 6: Minimum deposit requirements
Hargreaves Lansdown minimum requirements vary by account:
- Any ready-made portfolio (i.e Portfolio+ mentioned above) requires a minimum £1000 or more
- Stocks & Shares ISA, Lifetime ISA and Junior ISA: start from £100 or £25 per month
- Pension: start from £100 or £25 per month
- Fund & Share Dealing Account (i.e a general investment account): open an account with a minimum of £1 (or £25 per month regular investing)
Wealthify allows you to invest with a minimum initial investment of only £1 on their ISA, GIA or Junior ISA accounts. The pension accounts have a minimum of £50.
Round 7: Withdrawal restrictions
There are no restrictions on the Stocks & Shares ISA and General Investment Account (the Fund & Share Dealing account) within HL. The only limitation is that if you don’t have the cash available then there may be a delay whilst your investments are sold until your money is returned to you.
With the Junior ISA, Lifetime ISA and Pension accounts the standard restrictions apply (industry-wide restrictions). For example, the Junior ISA is restricted until the child’s 18th birthday, and for Pensions, this is available on the date you turn 55. For a Lifetime ISA, money can be withdrawn before being used for either a house purchase or for retirement, but you will be charged a penalty of 25% as it is being withdrawn outside of one of the intended uses (house purchase or retirement). This might mean you will get back less than you put in.
There are no restrictions on the ISA and GIA accounts within Wealthify, and no charges or penalties. These just take up to 10 working days to release the funds as Wealthify need to sell the underlying investments.
The Junior ISA and Pension accounts are restricted until maturity (in line with all other providers). So for a Junior ISA this is until the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and for Pensions, this is the date you turn 55.
Round 8: Platforms available
Hargreaves Lansdown has a web app (to access your account via the browser), as well as iOS and Android apps (but note more functionality when accessing via the browser).
Wealthify has a web app, as well as an iOS and Android investing app (allowing you to monitor your portfolio on the go).
Round 9: FSCS protection
Hargreaves Lansdown is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to the first £85,000 on ISA, General Investment and Pension accounts.
Wealthify is authorised and regulated by the FCA and is protected by the FSCS protection scheme up to the first £85,000 on ISA, General Investment and Pension accounts.
Conclusion: Hargreaves Lansdown vs Wealthify
With Hargreaves Lansdown* providing an absolute sea of choice, and Wealthify offering a curated selection, the winning service will likely come down to your experience as an investor as well as your willingness to be involved in your own portfolio.
Hargreaves Lansdown* is great at providing you with a tonne of options, in an easy to use and fairly inexpensive wrapper (low fees compared to even Wealthify). For those of you looking for a cheap DIY solution, you can’t get much better. With their pre-made portfolios, they are trying to make it easier (and less overwhelming) for new investors, however, the £1k minimum investment may be a barrier for new investors (especially when compared with Wealthify’s minimums).
Wealthify is great for people who want to “set and forget” their portfolio. The work of rebalancing gets done for you, and they have low minimums which make it more accessible to beginner investors. However, the fees are higher than HL (and not the most competitive on the market).
If you’ve been investing for a while, and know some solid and reputable funds that you want to invest in (for example the Vanguard Lifestrategy series), then HL is likely a better option. Furthermore, the option to reach out to HL’s financial advice team can give you the assurance you need.
However, if you’re just starting out investing and don’t really know what the best option is, Wealthify would be a better start.
That being said, if you are a beginner then I recommend further reading our best investment apps for beginners which gives a roundup of the best services available to get you started in an approachable and accessible way.
Alternatives to Hargreaves Lansdown and Wealthify
The investment platform world is a competitive one. You’ll find other similar brokers and robo advisors, which we’ve compiled a list of below:
Other brokers similar to Hargreaves Lansdown:
- Interactive Investor
- Vanguard Investor (not a broker but typically lowest fees on the market if you want to invest in Vanguard products)
Other Robo advisors similar to Wealthify:
Some budgeting/saving apps are also aiming to have everything finance-related under one roof. Plum* and Chip* both offer automatic saving capability and have beginner-friendly investing platforms. Plum* even has spend tracking and budgeting features which are super useful.
*Any links with an asterisk may be affiliate links. Even though we may receive a payment if you use this link to sign up for the service, it does not influence our editorial content and we remain independent. The views expressed are based on our own experience and analysis of the service.