Hargreaves Lansdown Review – The Best Platform in the UK?

In this rigorous and detailed review of Hargreaves Lansdown, we’ll highlight everything you would want to know, and more about this popular stockbroker. 

The UK stockbroker market is full of well-run and established businesses, but investors should perform research rather than blindly picking an investment platform. 

That’s why we’ve crammed lots of information from varied external sources so that you will feel fully informed about whether Hargreaves Lansdown would be a good match for your investment needs. 

Impartiality & editorial standards

Financial Expert provides a trusted one-stop shop for comparing and learning more about UK stockbrokers before you invest. 

Like the 10+ other stockbrokers reviewed on Financial Expert, we are remunerated by Hargreaves Lansdown for referring new clients. However, our editorial is independent of these incentives. As we have a similar relationship with each of the top UK stockbrokers by size, we succeed as a business by helping investors find the perfect broker in a single session. 

Our visitors keep coming back for reviews of brokers such as Hargreaves Lansdown because we provide evidence-based insights. Read more about our editorial policy.

Hargreaves Lansdown review: a summary

Hargreaves Lansdown

  • Officially the largest stockbroker in the UK and a member of the FTSE 100
  • This provides clients with additional reassurance 
  • Share dealing fees of £11.95 are higher than average
  • Buying and selling funds attract no dealing fee (used by most investors)
  • HL offers a market-leading range of investments for sale
  • Clients value its large, UK-based customer service team
  • Portfolio+ model portfolio service at no additional cost

Visit Hargreaves Lansdown and sign-up today

Read on to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of Hargreaves Landsdown, and read an insiders view of what professionals in the wealth management sector really think about Hargreaves Lansdown.

Hargreaves Lansdown detailed review

Background: who is Hargreaves Lansdown?

Hargreaves Lansdown is a large UK financial services firm, founded in 1981, that has grown into the largest stockbroker and fund supermarket in the UK. 

The firm initially began as a discretionary investment manager, but Hargreaves Lansdown saw a gap in the market for a stockbroker offering heavily discounted dealing fees to investors who wanted to manage their own investment portfolio.

HL also answered investors’ prayers by abandoning the practice of charging entry fees for funds such as Open-Ended Investment Companies (OEICs) and unit trusts. This eventually forced the hand of the entire UK stockbroking industry. By the late 1990s, initial fund fees had become a relic of an older, expensive era that investors would rather forget. 

Online share dealing services appeared in 1999 during the dot-com boom. HL’s offering was the cheapest dealing rate at the time of £9.99 per trade. That’s £17 in today’s money, but this was a steep discount compared to inefficient competitors at the time.

The Bristol-based company went public in 2007, floating on the London Stock Exchange. It grew in value over the subsequent decade to become a constituent of the prestigious FTSE 100 index.

Hargreaves Lansdown in numbers: how large are they?

The statistic that defines Hargreaves Lansdown is the value of assets under administration (AUA). This figure is a whopping £135.5bn at the start of 2022, up from £79.2bn five years earlier. 

Because HL’s platform fee is charged as a % of client assets, this is the single most important metric to their financial success as a business. 

And they’re still growing. In fact, in the financial year ended 2021, HL recorded a larger increase in active accounts than in any other year. 

Why is Hargreaves Lansdown so popular?

Hargreaves has many advantages over smaller stockbroker rivals:

The power of word-of-mouth. Hargreaves has the largest client base in the UK, and therefore benefits from free advertising in the shape of conversations between existing investors and new prospective clients. 

A family legacy. When choosing a stockbroker for their child’s junior ISA, parents (or grandparents) will naturally stick with their favourite stockbroker. If they serve their adult investors well, HL gets a chance to serve the next generation of investors too.

A massive platform. More than any other broker, Hargreaves benefits from economies of scale. Investments in digital infrastructure, data and customer service can achieve more at the lowest cost per client because such costs are being shared across over a million UK investors. 

Catering for short-term traders and long term investors. HL charges £11.95 for a standard share deal but reduces this to £5.95 for active traders who made more than 20+ times in the previous month. This is one of the lowest share dealing fees on the market in a stocks & shares ISA. At the same time, Hargreaves Lansdown charges nothing to invest in funds, which are the preferred investment type for passive investors with a long-term outlook. 

Visit Hargreaves Lansdown and sign-up today

What accounts do Hargreaves Lansdown offer?

The HL investment platform offers more types of accounts than any other UK stockbroker we’ve seen during our research:

  • Fund and share account (general investment account)
  • Stocks & shares ISA
  • Lifetime ISA
  • Junior ISA
  • Self-invested person pension (SIPP)
  • Drawdown pension accounts
  • Contracts for Difference (CFD) trading via partner IG
  • Venture capital trusts (temporarily unavailable)

Are more accounts better? Not necessarily, but they increase the odds of HL having the most efficient account for your personal situation. If you understand how investments are taxed, you’ll understand that ISAs and pension accounts can provide investors with a shield from capital gains and income taxes which would otherwise hamper returns.

What investments does Hargreaves Lansdown offer?

Hargreaves Lansdown probably offers a wider range of shares, funds and other investments than any other UK stockbroker. 

  • 2500+ funds, including OEICs and unit trusts
  • 1000s of individual company shares on UK, US, Canadian and European markets

The following stock exchanges are accessible to clients of Hargreaves Lansdown:

UK exchanges

  • London International
  • London Stock Exchange

North American exchanges

  • Canadian Venture Exchange
  • NYSE
  • Toronto Stock Exchange

European exchanges

  • Amsterdam Stock Exchange
  • Brussels Stock Exchange
  • Copenhagen Stock Exchange
  • Deutsche Boerse Exchange
  • Frankfurt Stock Exchange
  • Helsinki Stock Exchange
  • Irish Stock Exchange
  • Italian Stock Exchange
  • Lisbon Stock Exchange
  • Luxembourg Stock Exchange
  • Madrid Stock Exchange
  • Oslo Stock Exchange
  • Paris Stock Exchange
  • Stockholm Stock Exchange
  • Swiss Stock Exchange
  • Vienna Stock Exchange

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What fees does Hargreaves Lansdown charge?

Annual management charge

Hargreaves charges a platform fee of 0.45% annually for shares, ETFs, investment trusts of any value. For funds, the charge begins at 0.45% for £0 – £250,000 the first of funds, 0.25% for the next £750,000, 0.1% for the next £1,000,000 and no additional charge for any fund holdings above £2,000,000.

Different account types include caps on the maximum charges, such as a maximum £45 annual management charge on shares in a stocks & shares ISA. Refer to the fees and charges information on the HL website for more information. 

Dealing fees

Share dealing charges (including ETFs, investment trusts and other listed investments) reduce the more you trade:

Deals previous monthDealing charge
0 – 9 deals£11.95
10 -19 deals£8.95
20 or more deals£5.95

Other fees

Other fees apply, such as foreign exchange charges on overseas deals. Take a look at HL’s fees and charges information for the full details. 

What do real clients think of Hargreaves Lansdown?

To include more voices in this Hargreaves Lansdown review, we’ve analysed the TrustPilot score of Hargreaves Lansdown so that you don’t have to. 

Trustpilot score for HL

At the time of writing, Hargreaves Lansdown scores a 4.1 / 5.0 which is a very good score in the stockbroking industry, and matched by other reputable stockbrokers:

  • Vanguard Investor – 4.1 / 5.0
  • Fidelity International – 4.1 / 5.0

The most common review score is five stars, which is twice the number of reviews with the lowest score category. 

High scoring client reviews frequently mention customer service

Ian from Jersey wrote: “there is never a long wait on the phone but instead you are greeted by a very helpful member of staff. I would highly recommend.

Ursula from the GB mainland wrote: “Advisor answered my query politely and efficiently and gave me pointers to an HL utility that might help further.”

Tony, also GB, wrote: “After a bit of a challenging time with Covid, Hargreaves Lansdown are now very responsive and helpful whenever I phone them. There is some criticism of HL for their charges, however, I find that I get value from money from them and it is worth a little extra.”

These reviews, which accompanied five-star scores on Trust Pilot, highlight the large UK-based team that HL have to handle the complex issues which can sometimes arise in the stockbroking business. 

Low scoring client reviews include complaints such as website downtime, fees and customer service.

Matthew wrote: “Website not responding this morning. Internet working as normal with other sites.”

Paul wrote: “After getting locked out of my account, i phoned to get a password reset. The only question they could give me to verify me was my first pet. Starting at the first pet I moved through the next 3 I’ve had, non worked! I now need to wait for days to get a pin sent out. My banking app uses my face ID and on the phone “My voice is my password” is sufficient, i think its time to update your software…”

We have tried to verify downtime reports. Third-party websites which track the status of large websites don’t report any recent downtime for the hl.co.uk website in recent months. 

Does Hargreaves Lansdown offer financial advice?

If you’re an unsure investor, HL offers three different services with increasing levels of guidance and protection:

  1. The Wealth Shortlist is a list of funds favoured by the analysts at Hargreaves Lansdown. It can be used as a starting point for investors boggled by the 1000s of funds on offer. 

Funds on the list have met the team’s high standards for experience, process, culture and performance. Like any financial analysis, HL shortlists don’t come with any guarantee of great returns. In 2019, HL came under fire for previously including a fund on an equivalent fund shortlist, which eventually succumbed to a liquidity crisis and resulted in losses for investors. 

  1. Portfolio+ is a service used by investors who want some ideas and a shortcut to a model portfolio but don’t require financial advice. 

Using the Portfolio+ service, investors can choose from 6 ready-made portfolios which offer diversity and different levels of risk. Once invested, the portfolios are automatically rebalanced twice a year. 

It may surprise you, but this service is available at no extra charge.

No additional charges for the management of your portfolio.

We will rebalance each of our portfolios twice a year

Simply select one of the six portfolios which best matches your investment goal and attitude to risk.

  1. Independent financial advice is also offered by HL’s in-house team of qualified financial advisers. Appointments are available over the phone or in one of their offices. Financial advice consists of multiple conversations which lead to a formal financial plan and a recommended investment portfolio that is tailor-made to suit your objectives. 

Visit Hargreaves Lansdown and sign-up today

What does the Hargreaves Lansdown platform look like?

In this part of the Hargreaves Lansdown review, we’ll show you what user interface you’ll find after registering for a Hargreaves Lansdown account.

The illustrative screenshots we’ve included below show the key screens investors use when buying shares. 

Hargreaves lansdown platform review
The account dashboard shows your total assets across all accounts at a glance
Hargreaves lansdown broker review
The dealing screen provides a simple interface for instructing HL to trade on your behalf
Hargreaves lansdown stockbroker
The quotation summary allows a few moments of reflection before you commit to a purchase

How is Hargreaves Lansdown regulated?

Hargreaves Lansdown PLC is authorised by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority to hold client money and client assets. The FCA is a respected regulated which maintains high standards across the industry.

If you’re interested in learning more about the regulations that UK stockbrokers comply with, and how this helps to protect your assets, please read our full guide to stockbroker regulation in the UK

Is Hargreaves Lansdown safe?

The financial failure of UK stockbrokers is extremely rare and when this occurs, client assets should be transferred to an alternative stockbroker. Compliant stockbrokers will ringfence client assets from their own corporate money, meaning that clients should not be significantly affected if a broker was to fail.

Hargreaves Lansdown is one of the largest companies on the UK stock exchange. In its latest annual report, it has reported growth in revenue and net income.

These financial statements (included within the annual report) are subject to external audit by an independent firm of accountants PwC. PwC also undertakes additional procedures over client money (known as CASS audits) to check processes over client money. 

An audit is not a guarantee that financial statements are free from error, but they provide a level of assurance that Hargreaves Lansdowns’ financial health is materially consistent with that reported.

As part of its remit, the FCA requires financial services firms to disclose metrics that allow it and the wider public to assess the financial resilience of the company to shocks. Companies withstand financial shocks by holding a minimum buffer of assets to allow it to suffer losses without the operations of the firm being affected. These minimum buffers are known as capital requirements. 

The following extract from HL’s Pillar disclosure document shows that the application of FCA rules would require Hargreaves Lansdown plc to hold £38m of tier I capital. HL actually held £311.3m at the date of the report – £273.3m more than regulations demand. 

Hargreaves Lansdown review conclusion

  • Officially the largest stockbroker in the UK and a member of the FTSE 100
  • This provides clients with additional reassurance 
  • Share dealing fees of £11.95 are higher than average
  • Buying and selling funds attract no dealing fee (used by most investors)
  • HL offers a market-leading range of investments for sale
  • Clients value its large, UK-based customer service team
  • Portfolio+ model portfolio service available at no additional cost

Visit Hargreaves Lansdown and sign-up today

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