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Charles Stanley Direct Review 2019

4.2 4 stars · Aug 2019
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Charles Stanley Direct logo

Charles Stanley Direct was founded in 1985 and it is UK-based stockbroker. It is regulated by the top-tier Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In addition, it is constituent of FTSE 100, a stock index of the biggest listed companies in the UK.

Charles Stanley Direct is considered safe because it has a long track record, is listed on a stock exchange, has a banking background, and is regulated by a top-tier regulator.

Recommended for beginners and buy and hold investors focusing on the UK market.

Pros
  • Great customer service
  • Easy deposit and withdrawal
  • Strong parent company
Cons
  • High stock and ETF fees
  • Limited product portfolio
  • Missing education

Charles Stanley Direct pros and cons

Charles Stanley Direct's customer service gives fast and relevant answers. The deposit and withdrawal are easy and free. Charles Stanley Direct is listed on the London Stock Exchange and its history dates back long.

The trading fees are high for stocks and ETFs. The product portfolio is limited, only stock, ETF, and mutual funds can be traded online. The educational tools are missing.

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Charles Stanley Direct review
Fees 3 stars

Charles Stanley Direct has high fees for stocks and ETFs. As a plus, there is no inactivity fee and the fees for funds are low.
Pros
  • No inactivity fee
  • Low fees for funds
Cons
  • High fees for stock and ETF
Charles Stanley Direct Fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock fee - Not available
EURUSD fee - Not available
US tech fund fee - Not available
Inactivity fee Low

We ranked Charles Stanley Direct's fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

To get things rolling, let's go over some lingo relating to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees, financing rates, and non-trading fees.

We also compared Charles Stanley Direct's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Hargreaves Lansdown and DEGIRO. This selection is based on factors like products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc.

Let's start with the trading fees.

Trading fees

Charles Stanley Direct has low fund fees, but high stock, and ETF fees.

In this review, we calculated the fees for products available for online trading. However, there are a lot of products which are available via phone trading.

Stock fees and ETF fees

Charles Stanley Direct has generally high stock trading fees. It is the same as Hargreaves Lansdown's stock fees, but much higher than DEGIRO's stock fees.

Stock fees of a $2,000 trade
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
UK $17.3 $17.3 $2.4

The stock fees are calculated as £11.50 per trade commission plus the platform charges. The platform charges are 0.35% of the trade value with a £24 minimum and £240 maximum. The platform charges are calculated on a yearly basis.

Fund fees

Charles Stanley Direct fund fees are generally low.  It is almost the same as at Hargreaves Lansdown, but higher than at DEGIRO.

Fees for a $2,000 fund purchase
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Europe stock fund buy $0.1 $0.2 $10.6

Charles Stanley Direct charges only an annual fee and doesn't charge a commission for opening and closing the mutual fund positions. The fees for mutual funds are volume-based. The higher value you trade, the lower annual fee you pay.

Charles Stanley Direct annual fund fees
Trade value in the previous month £0 - £250k £250k - £500k £500k - £1m £1m - £2m £2m+
Commission of the trade value 0.35% 0.20% 0.15% 0.05% Free

Financing rates

You can't trade on margin, or in other words, you can't hold leveraged positions. Because of this, financing rates at Charles Stanley Direct are not applicable.

Non-trading fees

Charles Stanley Direct has low non-trading fees. It doesn't charge inactivity fee and withdrawal fee.

It doesn't charge account fee for Investment and ISA accounts, however, it charges a £100 + VAT yearly account fee for SIPP accounts.

Charles Stanley Direct non-trading fees
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

Charles Stanley Direct review
Account opening 4 stars

Charles Stanley Direct's account opening process is quick and easy as long as you have a UK passport. If you don't have a UK passport, you have to send the photocopied documents by post.
Pros
  • Fast account opening
  • Fully digital account opening
  • User-friendly
Cons
  • Available for only UK residents

Can you open an account?

Only UK residents can open an account at Charles Stanley Direct.

What is the minimum deposit at Charles Stanley Direct?

The required Charles Stanley Direct minimum deposit is £20 is for debit cards and £50 for bank transfers.

Account types

Charles Stanley Direct has the following account types:

Charles Stanley Direct account types
Account type Short description
Investment Account Basic investment account.
Stocks and Shares ISA ISA account to invest tax-free up to the yearly limit
Self Invested Personal Pension Tax efficient pension investment account
Junior Stocks and Shares ISA ISA account to invest tax-free up on behalf of a child
Junior Self Invested Personal Pension Tax efficient pension investment account on behalf of a child

How to open your account

If you have a UK passport, the account opening process is fairly painless and straightforward. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.

Things start to get complicated if their electronic verification fails. Or if you're not a UK resident.

If your verification fails or you're an EEA resident, then you will need to fill in their physical application form and post documents verifying your identity as well your address. All in all, you would need to send the following:

  • filled application form
  • a copy of your: passport / driving license / firearms certificate or shotgun license/ recent evidence of entitlement to a state or local authority funded benefit, tax credit, pension, educational or other grants
  • a copy of your: current council tax demand letter or statement (issued within the last three months) / current bank statement (postal issued, issued within the last three months) / utility bill (postal issued, issued within the last three months)
  • FOR UK ONLY: a cheque with the initial amount you wish to deposit in your account / direct debit instructions

Charles Stanley Direct review - Account opening

Charles Stanley Direct review
Deposit and withdrawal 4 stars

Depositing and withdrawing money is easy and free with a debit card or bank transfers at Charles Stanley Direct. Unfortunately, accounts are available only in GBP.
Pros
  • Credit/Debit card deposit and withdrawal
  • Free withdrawal
  • No deposit fee
Cons
  • Only one account base currency

Account base currencies

At Charles Stanley Direct, you can choose from one base currency, GBP. This offer lags behind the competitors.

Base currencies at Charles Stanley Direct vs similar brokers
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Number of base currencies 1 1 9

Why does this matter? Two things. First, if you fund your account in the same currency as your bank account, you won't be charged a currency conversion fee. Second, if you trade assets in the same currency as your account base currency, you will not have to pay a conversion fee.

A convenient way to save on the currency conversion fees can be to open a multi-currency bank account. Revolut or Transferwise both offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. The account opening only takes a few minutes on your phone.

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Deposit fees and options

Charles Stanley Direct charges no deposit fees and you can transfer money either via bank transfer or card/debit cards.

Charles Stanley Direct deposit options
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card Yes Yes No
Electronic wallets No No Yes

A bank transfer can take several business days, while payment with a credit/debit card is instant.

You can only deposit money from accounts which are in your name.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Deposit and withdrawal - Deposit

Withdrawal fees and options

Charles Stanley Direct charges no withdrawal fees.

Charles Stanley Direct withdrawal fees and options
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card Yes Yes No
Electronic wallets No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

How long does it take to withdraw money from Charles Stanley Direct? We tested the debit card withdrawal and it took 2 business days.

You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name.

How do you withdraw money from Charles Stanley Direct? You can withdraw money from Charles Stanley Direct by following these steps:

  • Log into your account
  • Go to your "Manage my money"
  • Click on "Withdraw money"
  • Add the withdrawal amount you wish to withdraw
  • Initiate the withdrawal

Compare to other brokers

Charles Stanley Direct review
Web trading platform 3 stars

The web trading platform provides the basic functionalities and its available in English. Some parts like the search functionality could be improved. 
Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Clear fee report
  • Price alerts
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login
  • Poor search function
  • Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
  • Limited order types
  • Bugs
Charles Stanley Direct Platforms to Choose From
Trading platform Score Available
Web 3 / 5 stars Yes
Mobile 3 / 5 stars Yes
Desktop - No

Look and feel

The Charles Stanley Direct web trading platform is user-friendly and visually appealing. On the other hand, it's not customizable and could be less complicated to use.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform

Login and security

Charles Stanley Direct provides a one-step login. For increased login security you are required to set an additional memorable word but you can't use your smartphone or other devices for two-step verification on the web interface.

Search functions

The search functions are poor:

  • the search box lacks the automatic suggestion function and the search bar disappears after search automatically which makes searching more cumbersome compared to most competitors
  • the "advanced search" function has bugs in it
  • it's easy to encounter error pages for no apparent reason.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use only Market and Limit order types and you can't use time limits like Good Till Day. (To learn more about the basic order types, read this overview.) Placing the order is easy and it can be initiated right from the list of securities.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set simple price alerts. While using them is not hard, it's more complicated than it should be: you 

Portfolio and fee reports

A good overview of your portfolio is available including holdings and fees in a clean and customizable format: you can pick from a number of columns and the report is also downloadable in PDF and XLS formats.

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Charles Stanley Direct review
Mobile trading platform 3 stars

The mobile platform looks nice and provides a good amount of data. On the other hand you can not trade stocks or ETFs, only funds.
Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Price alerts
  • Order confirmation
  • Looks nice
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login
  • Limited order types

The mobile trading platform is easy to use and available in English but it doesn't come with a lot of functionalities. According to the description of the app, this is likely due to the fact that Charles Stanley Direct still develops it actively and they don't consider it a final version.

Look and feel

The Charles Stanley Direct mobile trading platform has a modern and stylish look and feel. The buttons are big enough to tap on and information is presented in a well-organized fashion.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Mobile trading platform

Login and security

The Charles Stanley Direct app requires you to use a 6 digit PIN and fingerprint recognition is also available. The login is still one-step which means that no other device is needed to use the app.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. Although the availability of 2 distinct search functions is a little bit confusing (one on the top left corner and the fund search function in the Buy Funds menu item.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Mobile trading platform - Search

Placing orders

Only funds can be purchased and only with a market order. This means that no time limits can be used and stocks and ETFs can not be traded on the mobile app. 

Alerts and notifications

Neither alerts nor notifications are available in the mobile app.

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Charles Stanley Direct review
Desktop trading platform

Charles Stanley Direct does not offer a desktop trading platform.

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Charles Stanley Direct review
Markets and products 1 stars

At Charles Stanley Direct, you can only trade with UK stocks, ETF, and mutual funds online. International stocks and bonds can be traded only offline. Options, futures, CFDs, and cryptos are missing.
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond No Yes Yes
Options No No Yes
Futures No No Yes
CFD No Yes Yes
Crypto No Yes Yes

At stocks and ETFs, Charles Stanley Direct lags behind its competitors. The mutual fund offer is great.

Stock and ETF

At Charles Stanley Direct, you can only trade with stock and ETFs on the London Stock Exchange. This offer lags behind Hargreaves Lansdown and DEGIRO which gives access to international stock exchanges.

  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Stock markets (#) 1 21 32
ETFs (#) 1,200 1,400 5,400

Fund

Charles Stanley Direct's mutual fund offer is great. It is more than at its competitors.

  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Fund providers (#) 220 164 68

You will find funds from the biggest fund providers like BlackRock or Vanguard and from smaller ones too.

Charles Stanley Direct review
Research 3 stars

The trading ideas section at Charles Stanley Direct are rich in functionality and data. The number of research tools is limited though and charting tools could be improved.
Pros
  • Analyst recommendations for stocks, bonds, etc.
  • Data on asset fundamentals
  • User-friendly
Cons
  • Limited interactive charting
  • No/Poor quality news flow
  • No/limited set of analytic tools

We have looked at Charles Stanley Direct's research tools on the web platform.

Trading ideas

You can find trading ideas in the Outlook section. They are recommendations from top-tier banks including Barclays, Citigroup, and Deutsche.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Recommendations

Fundamental data

Charles Stanley Direct does offer fundamental data, made available on the Financials and on the Company tabs of the web platform. They both have a clean layout focusing mostly on financial information sparing bells and whistles.  

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Fundamental data

Charting

Charles Stanley Direct has poor charting tools. You can use 24 technical indicators which are less compared to a lot of other brokers and its functionalities are limited as well.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Charting

News feed

A minimalist news feed is available for LSE market news which is good to have. However, its functions and its layout are limited. 

Compare research pros and cons

Charles Stanley Direct review
Customer service 4 stars

Charles Stanley Direct's customer service is great. They give fast and relevant answers. On the flip side, there is no 24/7 availability and live chat is not provided.
Pros
  • Fast response time
  • Relevant answers
Cons
  • No live chat

You can contact Charles Stanley Direct via:

  • telephone
  • email

We were really satisfied with Charles Stanley Direct's phone support. They answered on the phone instantly, and we got relevant answers.

The email support works as you would expect. We emailed them four times and got answers within a day. The answers were relevant as well.

We missed 24/7 availability and the live chat.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Customer Service

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Charles Stanley Direct review
Education 0 stars

No education material nor a demo account is available at Charles Stanley Direct.
Pros
None
Cons
  • No demo account
  • No trading platform tutorial videos
  • No educational videos

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Charles Stanley Direct review
Safety

Charles Stanley Direct is regulated by FCA, a top-tier regulator. It is also listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Pros
  • Regulated by top tier financial authority
  • High level of investor protection
  • Listed on stock exchange
Cons
  • No negative balance protection
  • Does not hold a banking license

Is Charles Stanley Direct regulated? Yes, it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Charles Stanley Direct is based in the UK and was incorporated in 1985 with their roots going all the way back to 1792. Is Charles Stanley Direct safe? To be certain, it is best to check two things: how you are protected if something goes wrong and what the background of the broker is.

How you are protected

This is important for you because the investor protection amount and the regulator differ from entity to entity. This is not an issue in this case as all customers are covered by Charles Stanley Group PLC. This means that due to the FCA regulation you get a £85,000 investor protection.

Background

Charles Stanley Direct was incorporated in 1985. The longer the track record of a broker, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

While they don't have a banking license, Charles Stanley is listed on the London Stock Exchange, which is a big plus for safety as they release financial statements regularly and transparently.

The banking license, being listed on a stock exchange, providing financial statements, and being regulated by a top-tier regulator are all great signs for Charles Stanley Direct's safety.

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Charles Stanley Direct review
Bottom line

Charles Stanley Direct's customer service is great, you will get relevant answers within a short time. The deposit and withdrawal are easy and free. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has a long track record.

It has some drawbacks though. It has high fees for stocks and ETFs. You can trade only stock, ETF, and mutual funds online. The educational tools are missing.

As the minimum deposit is low and no inactivity fee is charged, feel free to try Charles Stanley.

Charles Stanley Direct main features and highlights

🗺️ Country of regulation UK
💰 Trading fees class Average
💰 Inactivity fee charged No
💰 Withdrawal fee amount $0
💰 Minimum deposit $29
🕖 Time to open an account 1-3 days
💳 Deposit with credit card Available
👛 Depositing with electronic wallet Not available
💱 Number of base currencies supported 1
🎮 Demo account provided No
🛍️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Fund

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Charles Stanley Direct logo

Charles Stanley Direct was founded in 1985 and it is UK-based stockbroker. It is regulated by the top-tier Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In addition, it is constituent of FTSE 100, a stock index of the biggest listed companies in the UK.

Charles Stanley Direct is considered safe because it has a long track record, is listed on a stock exchange, has a banking background, and is regulated by a top-tier regulator.

Recommended for beginners and buy and hold investors focusing on the UK market.

Compare to other brokers

Overall 4 stars

Pros
  • Great customer service
  • Easy deposit and withdrawal
  • Strong parent company
Cons
  • High stock and ETF fees
  • Limited product portfolio
  • Missing education

Fees 3 stars

Pros
  • No inactivity fee
  • Low fees for funds
Cons
  • High fees for stock and ETF

Account opening 4 stars

Pros
  • Fast account opening
  • Fully digital account opening
  • User-friendly
Cons
  • Available for only UK residents

Deposit and withdrawal 4 stars

Pros
  • Credit/Debit card deposit and withdrawal
  • Free withdrawal
  • No deposit fee
Cons
  • Only one account base currency

Web trading platform 3 stars

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Clear fee report
  • Price alerts
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login
  • Poor search function
  • Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
  • Limited order types
  • Bugs

Mobile trading platform 3 stars

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Price alerts
  • Order confirmation
  • Looks nice
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login
  • Limited order types

Markets and products 1 stars

The available asset classes to trade:

  • Stock
  • ETF
  • Fund

Research 3 stars

Pros
  • Analyst recommendations for stocks, bonds, etc.
  • Data on asset fundamentals
  • User-friendly
Cons
  • Limited interactive charting
  • No/Poor quality news flow
  • No/limited set of analytic tools

Customer service 4 stars

Pros
  • Fast response time
  • Relevant answers
Cons
  • No live chat

Education 0 stars

Pros
None
Cons
  • No demo account
  • No trading platform tutorial videos
  • No educational videos

Safety

Pros
  • Regulated by top tier financial authority
  • High level of investor protection
  • Listed on stock exchange
Cons
  • No negative balance protection
  • Does not hold a banking license

AUTHOR OF THIS REVIEW

Gergely Korpos
Gergely Korpos
Co-founder, CPO
Gergely's aim is to bring more clarity into personal investing. He has 10 years of experience in financial markets with GE Money, KPMG and MOL. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and financial portfolio manager

METHODOLOGY

Everything you find on Brokerchooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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