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4.5

InvestEngine review: The lowest cost way to invest in ETFs

InvestEngine is the lowest cost platform for investing in ETFs and is also one of the only platforms not to charge for their stocks and shares ISA. You will struggle to find better value elsewhere.

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The following dataset includes the performances of ready-made portfolios/funds offered by investment platforms and may include both actively and passively managed ready-made portfolios/funds. Performance indicated is also net of all fees to 31st January 2024, unless stated otherwise; any tiered fee structure will be disclosed. Ready-made portfolios/funds that include cryptocurrencies or any other securities outside cash and equities are not included in the dataset. The dataset only includes ready-made portfolios/funds which are explicitly advertised by their respective platforms as being for ‘beginners’, and which are exclusively offered by the platform itself. Funds which are managed by other providers and may be identically offered across multiple platforms were not included in this dataset. For example, the Vanguard UK All Share Acc. ETF was offered by Plum, but as it is not directly managed by Plum and customers could reasonably access it on multiple platforms, it was not included for the purposes of this research. Other discretely advertised securities or investments are not included.
Avg. 5-year performance across all InvestEngine ready-made portfolios
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The industry average is the median average of all fund/ready-made portfolio performance figures we collated from 23 investment providers. To see the full dataset, visit X page.
Industry avg.
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By Antonia Medlicott

  • Published: April 8, 2024
  • Edited by: Clare West
  • Last Update: 2 months ago
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4.5
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Antonia's View:

The Verdict

Average Success Rate

23.2%
The following dataset includes the performances of ready-made portfolios/funds offered by investment platforms and may include both actively and passively managed ready-made portfolios/funds. Performance indicated is also net of all fees to 31st January 2024, unless stated otherwise; any tiered fee structure will be disclosed. Ready-made portfolios/funds that include cryptocurrencies or any other securities outside cash and equities are not included in the dataset. The dataset only includes ready-made portfolios/funds which are explicitly advertised by their respective platforms as being for ‘beginners’, and which are exclusively offered by the platform itself. Funds which are managed by other providers and may be identically offered across multiple platforms were not included in this dataset. For example, the Vanguard UK All Share Acc. ETF was offered by Plum, but as it is not directly managed by Plum and customers could reasonably access it on multiple platforms, it was not included for the purposes of this research. Other discretely advertised securities or investments are not included.
info5-year performance across all InvestEngine ready-made portfolios.
26.4%
The industry average is the median average of all fund/ready-made portfolio performance figures we collated from 23 investment providers. To see the full dataset, visit X page.
infoIndustry average
The fees at InvestEngine are unbeatable, so if you're looking for low-cost then this is a platform to consider.

The downside comes from the investment options being limited to ETFs. However, given that ETFs are transparent, low-cost, and offer easy diversification, this needn't be an issue for everyone. InvestEngine has over 590 ETFs to choose from so there is still plenty of choice here.


Those who are happy to pick and choose their investments will experience the most favourable costs, however, there is a small charge of 0.25% associated with the fully managed portfolio, which is still very competitive.


I have my own account at InvestEngine, where I have invested in three ETFs that have been hand-picked by our Senior Equity Analyst. As part of my review, I'll provide constant updates on how my portfolio is performing and compare that to the performance of the fully managed service so you can see if it's worth the cost. In addition, our Senior Equity Analyst will provide details of the ETFs he has chosen as a guide for complete beginners.
arrow-down-orangeRead more
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Pros

  • Low-cost with zero platform fees for DIY investors
  • Good range of over 590 ETFs
  • Easy way to invest in a diversified fund
  • DIY and fully managed portfolios available
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Cons

  • Limited opportunities for learning about investing
  • Investments are limited to ETFs only
  • No live chat
  • Verdict4.5
  • Fees5.0
  • Trading Platform4.0
  • Research4.0
  • Safety5.0
  • Education3.0
  • Customer Service4.0
  • Alternatives
  • Portfolio View

Antonia's View:

Who do I recommend it for?

Average Success Rate

23.2%
The following dataset includes the performances of ready-made portfolios/funds offered by investment platforms and may include both actively and passively managed ready-made portfolios/funds. Performance indicated is also net of all fees to 31st January 2024, unless stated otherwise; any tiered fee structure will be disclosed. Ready-made portfolios/funds that include cryptocurrencies or any other securities outside cash and equities are not included in the dataset. The dataset only includes ready-made portfolios/funds which are explicitly advertised by their respective platforms as being for ‘beginners’, and which are exclusively offered by the platform itself. Funds which are managed by other providers and may be identically offered across multiple platforms were not included in this dataset. For example, the Vanguard UK All Share Acc. ETF was offered by Plum, but as it is not directly managed by Plum and customers could reasonably access it on multiple platforms, it was not included for the purposes of this research. Other discretely advertised securities or investments are not included.
info5-year performance across all InvestEngine ready-made portfolios.
26.4%
The industry average is the median average of all fund/ready-made portfolio performance figures we collated from 23 investment providers. To see the full dataset, visit X page.
infoIndustry average
arrow-down-orangeRead more
quote

Pros

  • Low-cost with zero platform fees for DIY investors
  • Good range of over 590 ETFs
  • Easy way to invest in a diversified fund
  • DIY and fully managed portfolios available
quote

Cons

  • Limited opportunities for learning about investing
  • Investments are limited to ETFs only
  • No live chat
  • arrowVerdict
    4.5
  • arrow Fees:
    5.0
  • arrowTrading Platform:
    4.0
  • arrowResearch:
    4.0
  • arrowSafety:
    5.0
  • arrowEducation:
    3.0
  • arrowCustomer Service:
    4.0
  • arrowSocial Trading
  • arrowPortfolio View

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Updates

January 2024 InvestEngine launch their first SIPP

January 2024 InvestEngine launches ‘Impact’ – a breakdown of last year's most popular ETFs and most held companies

Who do I recommend InvestEngine for?


The fully managed portfolio is a perfect option for complete beginners and those who don't have the time or inclination to manage their investments.

There is a minimum investment of £100 to open an account after which time you can add further amounts or set up regular investing via recurring payments, standing orders, or direct debits, in order to drip-feed your money into the market.

Those seeking a more hands-on approach won't be disappointed by the DIY portfolio, but bear in mind your choices are limited to ETFs. Therefore, day traders and those looking for a more interactive experience may not find this suitable.

It is also worth noting that education is fairly limited, and the restriction to ETFs wouldn't provide a holistic scope of the stock market. So those looking to further their investment knowledge may be best served elsewhere.

Account types and assets


All accounts come with two options, you can choose to open a fully managed service where all investments are handled for you in line with your appetite for risk, or alternatively, the DIY option which puts you in complete control of how your money is invested and represents the lowest cost way to invest when using this service.

Whist this account is free to open and use, I wouldn’t consider this the flagship account type at InvestEngine (that accolade goes to the free ISA) but it’s a great alternative if you have maxed out your ISA allowance or, paid into another ISA this tax year.

Bear in mind that any gains made within this account are subject to tax depending on your personal circumstances.

Funding the account with a minimum amount of £100 will provide access to the whole ETF range.

Stocks and shares ISA

This is where InvestEngine really shines. Offering an ISA with zero account fees effectively places InvestEngine as the lowest-cost ISA available. The amount required to start investing remains the same at £100 and like the GIA, the ISA provides access to the full range of 590 ETFs.

As with all ISAs, all investment gains made from within the ISA are free from tax so I would urge investors to make use of this. However, there are rules surrounding ISAs which must be adhered to, including an annual limit of £20,000 per tax year.

My tip for those with an existing ISA

If you have an existing ISA elsewhere and would like to make use of these low costs, I would recommend transferring it in rather than withdrawing from your existing ISA and paying the money in. This is to avoid breaking the ISA rule of not paying into two stocks and shares ISAs in any 1 tax year.

Read more about ISAs

Business Account

This account is available to limited companies and partnerships and is also free of any account fees. InvestEngine promotes this account as a way of utilising cash put aside for corporation tax. While it is always a good idea to put spare company cash to work while you wait to pay taxes, investing should always be considered a long-term endeavour with a minimum term of 5 years. Therefore, I’m not convinced as to the suitability of this account for tax money. However, any spare company funds that can be locked away for a minimum of 5 years, would be well served here.

The advantage of investing spare cash rather than paying out profits in the form of dividends is the ability to invest profits pre-tax, thus avoiding corporation tax.

SIPP

At the time of writing, the SIPP account was new to launch and InvestEngine were only opening accounts for customers who had registered for early access. Happily, I was one of those customers and could therefore test the account.

What's interesting here is that InvestEngine has chosen to slap an account fee of 0.15% capped at £200 on the SIPP. This is in addition to the 0.25% you will pay for the managed portfolio. This means, unlike the ISA, the InvestEngine SIPP is not the cheapest option available.

Of course, all the usual rules apply to the InvestEngine SIPP, and contributions will trigger the guaranteed government bonus of 20%, with higher-rate taxpayers looking to gain 45%. A pension remains the most efficient way to save for retirement, and a SIPP puts you in complete control of how your money is invested, however, I remain unconvinced that this is the best SIPP out there. For a ready made pension that has performed well for the last 5 years, head to my Moneybox review.

Read more about SIPPs

Markets

So now let's take a look at the investment options available at InvestEngine. As previously mentioned, this is limited to ETFs, so what exactly is an ETF?

Read more about ETFs

InvestEngine ETFs


There are over 590 ETFs available at InvestEngine which can be sorted according to asset class, provider, accumulating or distributing of dividends, ESG, and hedged or unhedged.

InvestEngine Range of ETFs

There are also collections including leading global indices, money market funds, ESG, thematics, dividend-focused funds, multi-factor, emerging markets, and small caps.

Most of the big names are represented such as Blackrock, iShares, Vanguard, and Invesco, and the search function makes it easy to locate funds by name, theme, or industry.

Fully managed portfolio

For those without the time or inclination to manage their own investments, there is a fully managed service available at InvestEngine. This provides a completely hands-off approach, as experts will create and manage a diversified ETF portfolio on your behalf. You will be asked to answer a few select questions to identify your risk profile and investment objectives and ensure the portfolio is aligned with your investment goals. Questions include:

  1. What is your annual salary?
  2. What is your investing timeframe?
  3. Do you want to minimise losses or maximise profit?
  4. What would you do if there was a downturn?
  5. How big a loss can you sustain before it affects your standard of living?
  6. Do you prefer a guaranteed rate of return to uncertain returns?
  7. Will you need to withdraw any funds in the next five years?
  8. What types of financial instruments have you invested in before?

When I answered these questions, I was matched with a Growth 7 portfolio, which includes 4 bond ETFs and 9 equity ETFs. You can easily get an overview of the composition and performance of your portfolio, as well as future projections.

There is the option to manually adjust your level of risk in the suggested portfolio.

Fully managed or DIY?

As mentioned previously, when opening a new account, you have the option to select either a fully managed service which comes at an additional cost of 0.25% a year, or a DIY portfolio where you pick and choose all your Investments yourself. Which of these is best for you will depend on your individual circumstances, however, I have gone into some more detail on both these options to help you decide.

DIY portfolio
Selecting your Investments yourself can help to reduce your costs significantly. However, it is still very important to ensure that you are fully diversified across Industries and sectors and to have some knowledge of investing and or assistance in this area.

Once you have chosen your ETFs you can either invest equal amounts in each ETF or invest more in some and less in others. As markets rise and fall you have the option to use the one-click rebalancing feature to keep your Investments aligned with your chosen weights. Any changes can be made quickly and easily on the app.

Below are screenshots of my own DIY portfolio created when testing InvestEngine, with £100 invested in three ETFs.

What is important here is that, as you can see, the portfolio has lost slight value since I purchased my investments. This should in no way cause alarm; investments go up and down in value, which is why it is always suggested that investors remain in the market for a minimum of five years in order to ride out any volatility.

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John Choong

Senior Equity Analyst
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My DIY portfolio is invested in three ETFs which have been expertly chosen by John Choong, our resident Senior Equity Analyst. To give you some guidance, here are John's reasons for the ETF choices he has made:

1. Travel shows no signs of cooling, with consumer surveys, credit card reports, and forward bookings all indicative of a consumer still eager to spend. This bodes well for a travel ETF like Han’s.

Though there’s still plenty of work to do with their balance sheets, cruise companies remain underappreciated considering their valuation in relation to forward bookings and yields, as is the case with a number of airlines and hotels in this ETF.

2. Despite the doom and gloom purported by many analysts in 2023, the NASDAQ rallied and is in touching distance of its all-time high. Although an equally impressive gain is unlikely to be replicated this year, the long-term investment thesis is still as strong as the tech and AI-heavy index. Continued earnings growth as rates drop and a potential soft-to-no-landing scenario could see many stocks rerate to higher levels and result in further gains.

Nonetheless, this fund was chosen for its lower TER and GBP hedges. This gives this ETF less tracking error and gives investors more buck for their money (pun intended).

While the NASDAQ is the more volatile index versus the S&P 500, it’s still a better outperformer in recent years due to tech advancements. It’s also worth noting that history is on the side of the markets in an election year when markets saw 10%+ gains the year before

3. A potential credit crunch and lower loan growth were key concerns for European banks in 2023, which saw analysts alike rerating financials to lower multiples. This has resulted in many European bank stocks being undervalued, with most of them still trading below tangible book value.
With rates set to head downward and normalise in the Goldilocks zone of 2-3%, the yield curve should return to normal, with banks set to benefit once again.

Additionally, the higher weightage towards UK banks makes this ETF more favourable vs £X7PP, despite the 0.05% more expensive TER, as there’s more room for upside

4.0

Trading Platform


There are two options at InvestEngine, the web platform and the mobile app. Both will provide you with the same access to investment options, features, and tools.

There's not an awful lot to say about the platform other than that it's very easy to use and has a clean, simple-to-navigate design. It's been well thought out to take the complexity out of investing, and is very user-friendly, even for beginners.

Demo mode

I'm completely flummoxed by the demo mode on this platform; it doesn't appear to offer anything of value at all. You can access some of the resources, including InvestEngine Impact, and some of the top stories from last year, but you are unable to invest or add virtual funds.

Many investors who are completely new to online platforms enjoy using demo accounts before adding any funds, if only to get a feel for the platform. Considering InvestEngine is well-placed for beginners, this feels like a bit of an oversight.

5.0

Fees


There is little doubt that this is where InvestEngine really shines. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is the lowest-cost platform available, especially for an ISA. The fees you pay will vary depending on whether you have a DIY portfolio or a fully managed portfolio.

DIY portfolios

This really is as cheap as investing gets. At InvestEngine, you pay no setup fees, no account fees, no trading fees, and no FX fees on the ISA, GIA, or Business Account. You will, however, be subject to a 0.15% account fee for the SIPP capped at £200 per year.

Fully managed portfolios

The cost of having your portfolio expertly managed for you is currently 0.25% per year. This is still highly competitive in the robo-advisor space.

ETF fees

All ETFs come with their own associated costs and what you pay will depend on the ETF you have chosen. ETF costs start as low as 0.03% but can climb to almost 0.90% so make sure you're aware of the cost of the funds you select before going ahead with your investment. The average cost of a Growth Portfolio in the managed service comes to 0.14% a year.

To give you an indication of what excellent value this is, it is actually cheaper to buy Vanguard funds through InvestEngine than it is to buy them on the Vanguard platform. You won't be able to access the Vanguard Lifestrategy funds here, but that's because they aren't ETFs, they are mutuals, and InvestEngine is solely for ETFs.

The only other cost to be aware of is the market spread, which is the small difference between the buying and selling prices of the ETFs. This is unavoidable but to give you an indication, the average spread cost on the managed portfolio comes to 0.07% a year.

4.0

Research & Tools


For what this platform offers, I found the research and tools to be adequate. there is enough information without it being overwhelming. You can quickly gain access to information about the fund's performance, whether it is an accumulating ETF, i.e. invests any income from its underlying holdings back into the ETF, rather than distributing ETF, i.e. paying it out, and the total expense ratio (TER). The TER is how much in percentage terms the ETF charges for investment management and admin costs each year.

There is a short overview of each ETF followed by a breakdown of holdings, regions, and sectors. You can view all the holdings of the ETF in question as well as the weightings of each holding and for those who really want to deep dive, there is a key investor information document on each ETF. This isn't always available from these types of platforms.

What's missing is relevant and up-to-date news that could affect the ETF in question.

The analytics tab is a useful tool providing a complete breakdown of your portfolio and there is the option to create reports based on various factors. When I tested this it was very straightforward and easy to facilitate.

There are a number of tools available designed to help you invest. These include:

Fractional investing

Fractional investing allows you to buy a share in high-value ETFs without paying the full price. Effectively you get a fraction of the share. As an example, with my own DIY portfolio, I only wanted to invest £100 in total. However, the Invesco NASDAQ 100 ETF that John chose for me, is priced at £319.67. Fractional investing allowed me to purchase just £32.92 worth of holdings, which is the equivalent of 0.102996 shares.

Other features include:

  • Automated investing – allows you to automatically invest on your own schedule in order to drip feed your money into the market.
  • Smart portfolios – allows you to set your investment weights to create the balance you want.
  • One-click rebalancing – allows you to re-balance your portfolio to your desired weightings at the click of a button.

5.0

Safety


InvestEngine is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ensuring adherence to a strict set of rules designed to protect the consumer. This includes keeping client funds in segregated accounts, thus protecting investors' funds should the platform become insolvent.

In addition, InvestEngine is a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) providing compensation up to the value of £85,000.

Both of these bodies together provide assurance of gold standard safety measures.

3.0

Education


Education is definitely not InvestEngine’s strong suit. I would have liked to have seen some courses or videos with some basic instruction but any education is limited to a handful of articles with topics that include Investments, InvestEngine News, ISA, Market Commentary, Investing 101, Thematic Investing, and Pensions.

Considering this platform is well placed for complete beginners, I do think there is a gap in educational material here. That being said, it cannot be denied that InvestEngine has succeeded in making this a very fluid and easy service, even for beginners.

4.0

Customer Service


InvestEngine has an excellent score on Trustpilot of 4.6 from 916 reviews. Here are two examples of reviews that mention customer service.

9 Nov 2023 Rapid Enquiry Response. A*

“The customer service has always been exceptionally rapid…to the point where an email enquiry at around 1am gains a reply within minutes; and this wasn't the first time either. Very impressed all-round. Other factors, notably the mobile application interface add to the good standing of this company. Would recommend 100%.”

30 Dec 2023 Top-notch services

“Top-notch services are provided by an amazing Team of professionals. Highly appreciate the promptness and the fact that each query is effectively dealt with.”

Of course, I don't just take other people's word for it and have tested the service myself. The first thing I've noticed is that there is no live chat which with other platforms I have always found to be the quickest way to get a response. The best way to contact support on this platform is by using the help icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the website or by going to the Help Centre from within the app.

Once in the Help Centre, you will see the blue icon in the bottom right-hand corner. Simply follow the instructions and you will automatically create an online contact form. Response times have been varied, with some being within a few minutes, and at other times taking hours.

However, I would recommend trying the FAQs as there is a lot of information provided there.

Opening and closing an account


Opening an account is a very quick and simple procedure. This is about as streamlined as you can hope to achieve whilst still performing all the correct regulatory requirements.

If you plan to utilise the ISA, make sure you have your National Insurance Number to hand.

Otherwise you will be asked for some basic personal information such as your name, address, and contact details.

Expect to be up and running in around five minutes.

Trade execution


Trades placed are executed every business day at approximately 3:15 p.m. The trading window is 2 pm to 7 pm, so orders placed before the start of the trading window will go through the same day, otherwise, it will be the following business day.

Therefore, should you wish your order to be executed the same day, you should place your order before the 2 pm cutoff.

Once the trading window closes at 7:00 p.m. Any changes made to your portfolio during trading will be updated. However, InvestEngine does stipulate that it can on occasion take until the following morning for the changes made to your portfolio to become visible.

Awards


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InvestEngine vs Hargreaves Lansdown


If you are tossing up between these two options then this is a relatively easy choice to make. Those only looking to invest in ETFs would be best served at InvestEngine. It's a much more cost-effective solution. However, as InvestEngine have yet to launch its Junior ISA, then those seeking that product would definitely be best served at Hargreaves Lansdown who have managed to scrap all account fees for their Junior ISA, making this a cost-effective and premium product. Be aware that trading fees at Hargreaves Lansdowne can be costly for individual shares, however, it is free to buy funds within the Junior ISA product. You will also find that Hargreaves Lansdown has one of the most comprehensive investment selections available, providing investors with plenty of choice.

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InvestEngine vs Vanguard


Unless you are hell-bent on investing in the Vanguard Lifestrategy funds which are not available at InvestEngine, then InvestEngine is definitely the more cost-effective solution. As mentioned previously, you can buy Vanguard ETFs at InvestEngine at a lower cost than you can on the Vanguard platform itself.

One of the major differences comes in the form of fees. While InvestEngine is free of fees for DIY portfolios, Vanguard charges investors 0.15% with a minimum investment of £500. You will also have access to a large number of funds at InvestEngine

However, where Vanguard do pull ahead is with their Junior ISA which is yet to be offered at InvestEngine. In addition, Vanguard offers actively managed mutual funds which you cannot access at InvestEngine.

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InvestEngine vs Moneyfarm


While you can start investing with InvestEngine with a minimum deposit of £100, you will need to deposit £500 to start the same journey with Moneyfarm. In addition, Moneyfarm fees can cost up to 0.75% compared with the  0.25% for the managed portfolio at InvestEngine.  Moneyfarm also have no DIY investment options which of course are free at InvestEngine.

Moneyfarm offer direct access to stocks and a junior ISA which you cannot access at InvestEngine. In order to directly compare the two services, it would be useful if InvestEngine could release details of the performance of their fully managed portfolios. It is of concern that they are unwilling to do so.

FAQs

Yes, InvestEngine excellent platform if you are looking for low-cost ETFs. In fact, this is the most cost-effective investing solution available online. Keeping down costs can directly affect your bottom line when investing

Yes, InvestEngine has all the appropriate levels of authorisation and regulation in order to provide users with a totally safe investing environment. The app also uses biometric identification in addition to a pin.

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