Summary

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

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Charles Stanley Direct is a UK-based stockbroker founded in 1985. It is regulated by the top-tier UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and its shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange.

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

Best broker for funds

We selected Charles Stanley Direct as Best broker for funds for 2021, based on an in-depth analysis of 70+ online brokers that included testing their live accounts. Check out the complete list of winners.

Overall Rating
4.5
Fees
3.8
Account opening
4.7
Deposit and withdrawal
3.8
Trading platform
3.7
Markets and products
1.6
Research
3.5
Customer service
4.5
Education
2.0

Charles Stanley Direct pros and cons

Charles Stanley Direct has low fund fees. Its customer service is helpful and responsive, while deposit and withdrawal are easy and free.

The product portfolio is quite narrow, as only the UK market is covered. In addition, educational and research tools are limited.

Pros Cons
Low fund fees Limited product portfolio
Great customer service Limited education materials
Easy deposit and withdrawal Basic research tools
Charles Stanley Direct main features and highlights
🗺️ Country of regulation UK
💰 Trading fees class Low
💰 Inactivity fee charged No
💰 Withdrawal fee amount $0
💰 Minimum deposit $26
🕖 Time to open an account 1-3 days
💳 Deposit with bank card Available
👛 Depositing with electronic wallet Not available
💱 Number of base currencies supported 1
🎮 Demo account provided No
🛍️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Fund, Bond
Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Author of this review

Gergely Korpos

Author of this review

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of Brokerchooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity portfolio manager.

Gergely Korpos

Co-founder, CPO

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of Brokerchooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity portfolio manager.

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

Charles Stanley Direct review
Fees

3.8
Charles Stanley Direct has low fund fees and low non-trading fees, but its stock and ETF fees are not the most competitive on the market.
Pros Cons
Low non-trading fees Average stock and ETF fees
Low fund fees
Charles Stanley Direct fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock - Not available
EURUSD - Not available
Mutual fund Low Annual commission of the value of your holdings: 0.35% between £0-£250k; 0.20% between £250k-£500k; 0.15% between £500k-£1m; 0.05% between £1m-£2m; no commission above £2m
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

How we ranked fees

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

First, let's go over some basic terms related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.

In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Charles Stanley Direct for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing the most important fees are commissions.

We also compared Charles Stanley Direct's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Interactive Investor and Hargreaves Lansdown. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Charles Stanley Direct alternatives.

To have a clear overview of Charles Stanley Direct, let's start with the trading fees.

Charles Stanley Direct trading fees

Charles Stanley Direct trading fees are average to low. It has low fund fees, but higher stock and ETF fees.

In this review, we calculated the fees of products available for online trading. There are many additional products that are available via phone trading, such as bonds or non-UK equities.

Stock fees and ETF fees

Charles Stanley Direct has high stock and ETF commissions.

Charles Stanley Direct stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
UK stock $15.0 $10.4 $15.5

Stock fees include a £11.50 commission per trade, plus any subsequent platform charges. Platform charges are levied monthly, and are calculated as 0.35% of the trade value per year with a £24 minimum and £240 maximum. However, platform charges for stocks will be waived if you make at least one chargeable trade during a calendar month.

Fund fees

Charles Stanley Direct fund fees are zero, putting it on par Hargreaves Lansdown.

Charles Stanley Direct commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Mutual fund $0.0 $10.4 $0.0

Charles Stanley Direct only charges an annual fee, but doesn't charge a commission on opening and closing mutual fund positions. Fees for mutual funds are volume-based. The higher the value of your holdings, the lower percentage you pay as an annual fee.

Charles Stanley Direct annual fund fees
Value of your holdings in the previous month £0 - £250k £250k - £500k £500k - £1m £1m - £2m £2m+
Annual commission on the value of your holdings 0.35% 0.20% 0.15% 0.05% Free

Non-trading fees

Charles Stanley Direct has low non-trading fees. It doesn't charge inactivity and withdrawal fees. It doesn't charge an account fee for Investment and ISA accounts either, but it does charge a £100 + VAT yearly account fee for SIPP accounts. This SIPP account fee is waived for accounts holding assets exceeding £30,000.

Charles Stanley Direct non-trading fees
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Account fee No Yes No
Inactivity fee No No No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

Charles Stanley Direct review
Account opening

4.7
If you have a UK passport, the account opening procedure is quick and easy. If not, you have to mail in photocopied documents, making the process less convenient.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Available only to UK residents
Low minimum deposit
User-friendly

Can you open an account?

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

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

How to open your account

If you have a UK passport, the account opening process is done through electronic verification, which is fairly painless and straightforward. The entire registration process takes about 10 minutes.

Things start to get complicated if electronic verification fails or if you didn't have this verification option to start with (because, for exampe, you don't have a valid passport or if you are not a UK citizen). In this case, you'll need to fill in a physical application form and post these documents:

  • a completed application form
  • a copy of either your passport, driver's license, firearms certificate (shotgun license), or a recent evidence of entitlement to either
    • a state- or local authority-funded benefit
    • tax credit
    • pension
    • or educational or other grants
  • a copy of either your current council tax demand letter or statement (issued within the last three months), current bank statement (issued by post within the last three months), or a utility bill (issued by post within the last three months)
  • FOR UK CITIZENS ONLY: a cheque with the initial amount you wish to deposit in your account / direct debit instructions
Charles Stanley Direct review - Account opening

What is the minimum deposit at Charles Stanley Direct?

The required Charles Stanley Direct minimum deposit is £20 for debit cards and £50 for bank transfers. Furthermore, if you want to open ISA or SIPP accounts, there is a £100 minimum. Investing in Foundation Portfolios requires a £2,500 minimum.

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 on behalf of a child
Junior Self-Invested Personal Pension Tax-efficient pension investment account on behalf of a child

Charles Stanley Direct review
Deposit and withdrawal

3.8
Depositing and withdrawing money is easy and free with bank transfer at Charles Stanley Direct. Unfortunately, accounts are only available in British pounds.
Pros Cons
Credit/Debit card available Only one account base currency
Free withdrawal
No deposit fee

Account base currencies

At Charles Stanley Direct, you can only choose one base currency: GBP.

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

Why does this matter? Currency conversion fee can occur in case you

  • fund your account from a non-GBP bank account
  • trade assets in a currency other than GBP.

A convenient way to save on currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. These usually offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates, as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account only takes a few minutes on your phone.

Compare digital banks

 

Deposit fees and options

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

Charles Stanley Direct deposit options
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card Yes Yes Yes
Electronic wallets No No No

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

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

Charles Stanley Direct review - Deposit and withdrawal - Deposit

Charles Stanley Direct withdrawal fees and options

Similarly to its closest competitors, Charles Stanley Direct charges no withdrawal fees.

Charles Stanley Direct withdrawal fees and options
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No 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 bank transfer withdrawal and it took 2 business days.

You can only withdraw money to accounts that are in your name.

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

  • Log in to your account
  • Go to 'Manage my money'
  • Click 'Withdraw money'
  • Add the withdrawal amount
  • Initiate the withdrawal

Charles Stanley Direct review
Web trading platform

3.5
The web trading platform is user-friendly and delivers some of the usual basic functions. However, it lacks a safer two-step login, customizability, and advanced order types.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Clear fee report Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Price alerts Limited order types
Charles Stanley Direct platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 3.5 stars Yes
Mobile 4.0 stars Yes
Desktop - No

The web trading platform is available in English only.

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 offers only limited research and trading options.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform

Login and security

Charles Stanley Direct provides only 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 OK, but there are some issues:

  • the search box lacks the automatic suggestion function and the search bar disappears automatically after each search, which makes searching more cumbersome compared with most competitors
  • the "advanced search" function had bugs at the time of our review
Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform - Search

You can also search instruments under the 'My Accounts' tab when you click 'Buy Investments'. This search function works a bit differently, for example, it has an automatic suggestion function. In our view, it's a more convenient way to find the asset you would like to trade.

Placing orders

Placing orders is easy and it can be initiated right from the list of securities. You can use only two order types though, Market and Limit, a limited set of options when compared with some close competitors (see comparison table below). The Limit order works on a Good 'til Day (GTD) basis. (To learn more about the basic order types, read this overview.)

  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Web order types number 2 3 4
Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Trading in funds

Besides simple buy or sell orders, you can buy funds at Charles Stanley Direct in the form of regular monthly investments or as a part of a basket. These functions can make your life much easier if you would like to grow your investments by small but regular contributions or if your aim is to create a diversified portfolio of funds.

Alerts and notifications

You can set simple price alerts. You can do this easily by clicking on the individual profile of the product you are interested in. 

Portfolio and fee reports

A good overview of your portfolio is available for viewing. This includes your holdings and fees in a clean and customizable format: you can pick from several columns, while the report is also downloadable in PDF and XLS formats.

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Charles Stanley Direct review
Mobile trading platform

4.0
The mobile platform looks nice; it's user-friendly and provides a good amount of data and feedback. On the other hand, order types are limited and you can't set up price alerts.
Pros Cons
User-friendly Limited order types
Two-step (safer) login No price alerts
Touch/Face ID login Confusing search function

The mobile trading platform is easy to use and is available for both iOS and Android. It doesn't come with a lot of functionalities, though, and we even encountered a few bugs.

Look and feel

The Charles Stanley Direct mobile trading platform has a modern and stylish look and feel. The buttons are big enough to comfortably tap, 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 code, and biometric authentication is also available. The login process is still one-step, though, meaning that no other device is needed to use the app.

Search functions

The search functions are OK, but confusing as you can actually use two search functions:

  1. There is a search bar at the top of the screen, where you can search for stocks or funds, and also look at market data. This search bar doesn't always appear though for some reason, which is confusing.
  2. The other tool appears after clicking the 'buy' button, where you can only look up tradable products. You can search based on the ticker or the asset name.
Charles Stanley Direct review - Mobile trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can trade stocks, funds, investment trusts and ETFs through the mobile app. You can use only Market and Limit orders, and no order terms such as Good 'til Canceled are available in the mobile app.

Alerts and notifications

Neither alerts nor notifications are available in the mobile app.

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Charles Stanley Direct review
Desktop trading platform

Charles Stanley Direct does not offer a desktop trading platform.

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Charles Stanley Direct review
Markets and products

1.6
Charles Stanley Direct offers only UK stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and bonds. International stocks or bonds can be traded offline, but options, futures or CFDs are missing completely.
Charles Stanley Direct asset classes
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options No No No
Futures No No No
CFD No No No
Crypto No No No

Charles Stanley Direct's mutual fund offering is great, but it lacks many other product classes.

Stocks and ETFs

At Charles Stanley Direct, you can only trade stock and ETFs on the London Stock Exchange.

Charles Stanley Direct stock and ETF selection
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Stock markets (#) 1 16 21
ETFs (#) 1,200 1,500 2,500

Funds

Charles Stanley Direct's mutual fund offer is great, well exceeding that of its competitors. You will find funds both from the biggest fund providers like BlackRock or Vanguard and from smaller ones too.

Charles Stanley Direct mutual fund selection
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Fund providers (#) 240 150 160

Bonds

Charles Stanley Direct has an average number of bonds.

Charles Stanley Direct bond selection
  Charles Stanley Direct Interactive Investor Hargreaves Lansdown
Bonds (#) 180 26 190

Charles Stanley Direct review
Research

3.5
The trading ideas section is rich in functionality and data, but otherwise Charles Stanley Direct's research tools are quite limited, and charting tools could also be improved.
Pros Cons
Trading ideas Limited interactive charting
Data on asset fundamentals No/limited set of analytic tools
User-friendly

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

Trading ideas

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

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Recommendations

You can also get personalised investment recommendations for Charles Stanley Funds, Foundation Portfolios, and Foundation Funds. All you have to do is fill out a short questionnaire, available from your account's home page.

Fundamental data

Charles Stanley Direct offers fundamental data, made available on the 'Financials' and 'Company' tabs of the web platform. They both have a clean layout, focusing mostly on financial information without any bells and whistles.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Fundamental data

Charting

Charles Stanley Direct has poor charting tools. You can use 19 technical indicators, which is fewer than what many other brokers offer, and the tools' functionalities are limited as well.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Charting

News feed

A bare-bones news feed is available covering UK market news. While it's a useful addition to the platform, its look and feel is very simple. You can find these under 'Market News' and at the bottom of individual product pages. Price quotes, news and fundamentals are provided by Thomson Reuters.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - News feed

Further research materials are available under Insights from Charles Stanley Direct. Here you can mostly find macro-focused articles.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Insights

Charles Stanley Direct review
Customer service

4.5
Charles Stanley Direct's customer service is great. It can be contacted via phone, email and live chat. On the flip side, there is no 24/7 availability.
Pros Cons
Phone support No 24/7 support
Live chat
Fast response time

You can contact Charles Stanley Direct via:

  • telephone
  • email
  • live chat

We were really satisfied with Charles Stanley Direct's phone support. They answered the phone instantly and gave us relevant answers.

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

Live chat support was likewise quick and useful. We got an answer in less than a minute.

We missed 24/7 availability, though.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Customer Service

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Charles Stanley Direct review
Education

2.0
Charles Stanley Direct offers good-quality educational materials, but their number and scope is limited, and some of them are hard to find.
Pros Cons
Glossary of terms No demo account
No trading platform tutorial videos
Charles Stanley Direct review - Education

There is a dedicated page for beginners where you can find educational videos and materials. Besides that, there are other written materials scattered across various pages of the platform, making them a bit hard to find. For example, you can learn about socially responsible investing, investing into funds and other topics. There are links to these pages listed in the 'Also available' segment to the left of the 'My Accounts' tab.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Education - SRI

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Charles Stanley Direct review
Safety

Charles Stanley Direct is overseen by the UK's FCA, a top-tier regulator, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. On the negative side, it does not have a banking license.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority Does not hold a banking license
High level of investor protection
Listed on stock exchange

Is Charles Stanley Direct regulated?

Yes, it is regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Charles Stanley Direct is based in the UK and was incorporated in 1985, with its roots going all the way back to 1792.

Is Charles Stanley Direct safe?

To be certain, we highly advise that you check two facts:

  • how you are protected if something goes wrong
  • what the background of the broker is

How you are protected

At Charles Stanley Direct, all customers are covered by the UK investor protection scheme, called FSCS.

The FSCS protects against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker goes bust. The limit of FSCS protection is £85,000. This amount is substantially higher than the amount most national investor protection schemes provide.

Background

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

While it doesn't have a banking license, Charles Stanley Direct is listed on the London Stock Exchange, which is a big plus for safety as the company is required to release financial statements regularly and transparently.

Being listed on a stock exchange, publishing financial statements, and being regulated by a top-tier financial authority are all great signs for Charles Stanley Direct's safety.

Find your safe broker

Charles Stanley Direct review
Bottom line

Charles Stanley Direct is a UK stockbroker regulated by the FCA and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

On the positive side, it has low fund fees. Customer service is great, offering quick and useful answers. Deposit and withdrawal are easy and free.

The service has some drawbacks though. You can only trade UK stocks, ETFs and mutual funds online. Educational and research tools are limited.

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

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES

Share

Comments

Compare
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES
×