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What is a Fund Supermarket

How to use them for Stocks & Shares ISAs

A Fund Supermarket allows investors to hold many different investments (including those held within Stocks & Shares ISAs) all in one place, with only one set of paperwork.

They mainly offer investment Funds such as Unit Trusts, although some also enable clients to buy and sell individual shares.

Their main attraction is that costs and charges are heavily discounted. For example -
  • If you buy a Unit Trust through conventional channels the manager will often levy an initial charge of 5% (often called the front-end load)
  • But if you buy the same Fund through a Fund Supermarket and this is normally slashed to under 1%

Fund Supermarkets are sometimes referred to as Fund Platforms or Fund Wrappers.

Who Are The Main Fund Supermarkets

The table below lists the main Supermarkets and gives some indication of their fees and charges.

However, it is often hard to compare the different platforms because they all have different charge structures. Also, different Supermarkets don't always offer the same range of funds.

Think of it like this - Tesco's might sell Heinz Baked Beans but Sainsbury's doesn't, offering Crosse & Blackwell instead. So there's little point shopping in Sainsbury's if you only eat the Heinz variety.

Likewise some investors prefer Funds offered by certain Fund management companies, or like a wide range of funds to choose from in certain sectors, like Bonds. So do plenty of research into what the different Fund Supermarkets sell and whether they suit your investment needs.

List of Fund Supermarkets

Supermarket Name
Choice of investments
InvestorProfile.co.uk 1,000+ Funds and advice Different fees for different funds so check www.investorprofile.co.uk
Fidelity FundsNetwork 1,100+ funds from 60+ fund groups Around 50% discount off the initial charge www.fidelity.co.uk
BestInvest 1,400 funds 100+ fund groups Initial charges are usually around 0.5% www.bestinvest.co.uk
Interactive Investor 1,600 funds, from 70+ fund groups Depends on what funds you buy, up to 100% discount www.iii.co.uk
Hargreaves Lansdown 2,000+ funds offered different fees for different funds so check www.h-l.co.uk
How To Open An Account
Simple, call them up or go online and fill out an application form. You'll also probably have to send some further forms in to prove your identity.
What fee discounts to expect

If you buy a Fund outside a Supermarket expect to be charged what's called an initial charge of between 3% and 5%. This means if you invest £1,000 only £950 (5% charge) gets invested in the Fund, with the fund manager taking the remaining £50.

But with Fund Supermarkets these initial charges can be as low as 0.5% and occasionally 0%.

There may also be savings on annual management fees. These are normally in the 1.5% - 2.5% range but if the funds are bought and held through the Supermarket expect a discount of 0.5% to 1%.

Advantages - Fund Supermarket
  • Discounted Fees and charges - discussed above

  • All investments held with one provider - Cuts down on paperwork and makes it far easier to manage your portfolio - See Secret 3 - Buy simple and flexible - you can't read the future - which is one of this site's 10 Secrets to Good Personal Finance

  • Excellent for ISA investors - Many Stocks & Shares ISA investors prefer investing in Funds - and if you don't want or need advice they are ideal for you

  • Free Research - They usually offer market news, research and financial information about companies and markets free of charge. They'll also offer Fund news, fact sheets, and Fund ratings at no cost

  • Portfolio Research - Some platforms also offer portfolio type research tools where you can enter all your funds and investments (or ones you plan to buy) and they can tell you if you're perhaps weighted too heavily to property, bonds or smaller stocks etc

  • Easily stay informed - Most of them allow you to keep an eye on your investments without having to check them all the time. They do this by sending you an email or SMS when a share or Fund trades at a certain price. It's also sometimes possible to put orders in ahead of time, for example to buy or sell at certain prices
Disadvantages - Fund Supermarkets
  • Limited range of Funds - It might not be possible to invest in the Funds you want. There are several thousand funds on the market but the average Fund Supermarket only offers around 800 - 1,500

  • Can't always buy shares - Fund Supermarkets as the name suggests are mainly to do with investing in Funds. With some platforms you won't be able to buy or sell traditional shares

  • Limited Telephone Support - If you're the kind of investor that likes to deal on the phone or talk with representatives then Fund Supermarkets are not the best tools to use. Phoning in telephone orders will often result in extra charges

  • Transferring problems - Transferring funds and investments from your present provider to a Fund Supermarket can be a problem. It's not that the process can't be done, it is because the industry is not as efficient as it should be. The best advice here is to call the company you're looking to move to and ask them for advice on this matter. Also, be on the lookout for transfer penalties from your present provider, these might not be too much nevertheless it's another charge investors have to be on the lookout for

  • No advice offered - Be aware that if you want investment advice it's not offered through a Fund Supermarket. They are set up for investors who know how and where to invest their money.

Using a Fund Supermarket is a cheap and convenient way for investors, including Stocks & Shares ISA ones, to hold shares and Funds. But to get the best deal for your needs don't open an account until you've fully researched a few providers.

Failure to do this might mean you start dealing with the wrong platform for your needs and find that you can't buy all the investments you need and/or the running expenses are too high.

Remember, good investors always try to limit charges and fees at every opportunity because they know that even small savings reinvested into the market and compounded over the years can improve long term results dramatically.

See also

FREE Stocks & Shares ISA Report
Why you must think long term with ISAs
Costs and charges - How to slash them
The best broker to use - and why
How to build a Portfolio of different asset classes
More details
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