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Charles Stanley Direct Logo

Summary

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

Charles Stanley Direct was founded in 1988 and it is a UK-based stockbroker. It is regulated by the top-tier Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is also 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, it is listed on a stock exchange, and it is regulated by a top-tier regulator.

Overall Rating
4.4
Fees
4.0
Account opening
5.0
Deposit and withdrawal
4.0
Trading platform
3.0
Markets and products
1.0
Research
3.0
Customer service
4.0
Education
1.0

Charles Stanley Direct pros and cons

Charles Stanley Direct has low fund fees, and its customer service gives fast and relevant answers. The deposit and withdrawal are easy and free.

The product portfolio is limited, as only stock, ETF, and mutual funds can be traded online. Furthermore, educational and research tools are limited.

Pros Cons
Low fund fees Limited product portfolio
Great customer service Limited education
Easy deposit and withdrawal Basic reserach 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 $24
🕖 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
Gergely Korpos

Gergely Korpos

Co-founder, CPO

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.

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

4.0
Charles Stanley Direct has low fund fees, but the stock and ETF fees are average. It has low non-trading fees as well.
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 Yearly commission of the trade value: 0.35% between £0-£250k; 0.20% between £250k-£500k; 0.15% between £500k-£1m; 0.05% between £1m-£2m; £2m+ it's free
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

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

Below you will find the most relevant fees of Charles Stanley Direct for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing commissions are the most important 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 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 for products available for online trading. However, there are a lot of products that are available via phone trading, such as bonds.

Stock fees and ETF fees

Charles Stanley Direct has generally average stock and ETF commission. It is lower than Hargreaves Lansdown's stock fees but higher than DEGIRO's stock fees.

Stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
UK stock $13.8 $14.3 $2.5

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 zero. It is the same as Hargreaves Lansdown and lower than DEGIRO's fund fees.

Commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
  Charles Stanley Direct Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Mutual fund $0.0 $0.0 $10.3

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. Higher the value you trade, lower the 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

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, 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
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

Charles Stanley Direct review
Account opening

5.0
As long as you have a UK passport Charles Stanley Direct's account opening process is quick and easy. If you don't have a UK passport, you have to send the photocopied documents by post which is less comfy.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Available only for UK residents
Low minimum deposit
User-friendly

Can you open an account?

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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 an electronic verification which is fairly painless and straightforward. The whole registration takes about 10 minutes.

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

  • a filled application form
  • a copy of either your passport, driving 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 (postal issued within the last three months), utility bill (postal issued 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 up 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

4.0
Depositing and withdrawing money is easy and free with debit card or bank transfer at Charles Stanley Direct. Unfortunately, accounts are only available in GBP.
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 choose from one base currency, GBP. This offer lags behind some competitors like DEGIRO which offers 9 base currencies.

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? 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 opening a multi-currency bank account. Revolut and 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 at these providers 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 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

Charles Stanley Direct withdrawal fees and options

Charles Stanley Direct charges no withdrawal fees. This is in line with similar brokers.

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 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

3.0
The web trading platform is user-friendly and delivers some of the basic functionalities. However, it lacks safe 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 3 / 5 stars Yes
Desktop - No

The web trading platform is available in English.

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 it offers limited research and trading options.

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 OK, but there are some issues:

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

Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform - Search

Placing orders

Placing orders is easy and it can be initiated right from the list of securities. You can only use only two types though, Market and Limit order which lags behind some 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 Hargreaves Lansdown DEGIRO
Web order types number 2 4 5

Charles Stanley Direct review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

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

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

3.0
The mobile platform looks nice, it's user-friendly and provides a good amount of data and feedback. On the other hand, the order types are limited and it doesn't provide price alerts.
Pros Cons
User-friendly Limited order types
Two-step (safer) login No price alerts
Touch/Face ID login

The mobile trading platform is easy to use and it is available both on iOS and Android. It doesn't come with a lot of functionalities and it even has has a few bugs. According to the description of the app, this is likely due to the fact that Charles Stanley Direct still develops it actively.

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 code, and biometric 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, but confusing as you can use two search functions:

  1. There is a search bar on the top of the screen, where you can search for stocks, funds, and look at market data. This search bar doesn't always appear though for some reason which is confusing.
  2. The other tool is under the "buy" button, where you can only look up products. You can search based on the ticker or the asset name only. 

Charles Stanley Direct review - Mobile trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can trade in stocks & shares, funds, investment trusts and ETFs through the mobile app. You can use only Market and Limit orders, no order terms are available in 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

1.0
Charles Stanley Direct's product selection covers only UK stocks, ETFs, and UK-based mutual funds. However, international stocks and bonds can be traded only offline. Options, futures, CFDs, and cryptos are missing completely.
  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

The mutual fund offering is great but Charles Stanley Direct lacks multiple other products its competitors offer.

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 a significantly higher amount of 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 stands out from its competitors. You will find funds both from the biggest fund providers like BlackRock or Vanguard and from smaller ones too.

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

 

Charles Stanley Direct review
Research

3.0
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 Cons
Trading ideas Limited interactive charting
Data on asset fundamentals No/limited set of analytic tools
User-friendly

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

 

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 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 fewer compared to a lot of other brokers, and the tool's functionalities are limited as well.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - Charting

News feed

A minimalist news feed is available for UK market news which is good to have. Nevertheless, the look and feel of this is very simplistic. You can find these at the bottom of the Market News and the individual product pages. Prices, news and fundamentals are provided by Thomson Reuters.

Charles Stanley Direct review - Research - News feed

Compare research pros and cons

Charles Stanley Direct review
Customer service

4.0
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 Cons
Phone support No live chat
Fast response time No 24/7 support
Relevant answers

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

1.0
Other than a glossary, neither any education material nor a demo account is available at Charles Stanley Direct.
Pros Cons
Glossary of terms No demo account
No trading platform tutorial videos
No educational videos

Charles Stanley has a good Glossary subpage which explains a wide range of terms related to investment. Still, the website lacks any other educational material. Charles Stanley Direct review - Education

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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. On the other hand, it does not offer negative balance protection.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection Does not hold a banking license
Listed on stock exchange

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 1988 with their roots going all the way back to 1792.

Is Charles Stanley Direct safe?

To be certain, we highly advise to check two facts:

  • how you are protected if something goes wrong
  • and 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 incorporated in 1988. 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.

Listing on a stock exchange, providing financial statements, and regulation by a top-tier regulator 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, you will get relevant answers within a short time. The deposit and withdrawal are easy and free.

It has some drawbacks though. You can trade only stock, ETF, 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.

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