AJ Bell Review: Is It the Right Choice?

AJ Bell boasts competitive fees and a broad range of investment options, making it a strong contender against other SIPP providers. Its user-friendly platform and educational resources for making informed investment decisions are what make it a popular choice among customers.
  • Last Updated: 16 May 2024
  • Fact Checked Fact Checked
  • Our team recently fact checked this article for accuracy. However, things do change, so please do your own research.

Contributors:

Francis Hui
Learn About the Benefits & Potential Risks of Self-Invested Personal Pensions & Start Planning for Your Retirement. Read This to Find Out What You Need to Know About AJ Bell’s SIPP.
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Key Takeaways
  • AJ Bell offers Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) that serve as a tax-efficient retirement savings option, providing a diverse array of investment choices such as stocks, bonds, and funds, enabling personalised portfolio management based on your financial goals and risk appetite.
  • Costs associated with AJ Bell’s SIPP include an annual administration fee, trading charges, and potential extra fees for specific services.
  • You have the option to transfer existing pensions to AJ Bell; applications can be made online or over the phone, requiring some personal details and form completion.

It may be worth exploring pensions options like the AJ Bell SIPP, especially when you consider that a staggering 17% of Britons aged 55 and older have no private pension, according to a 2020 Unbiased and Opinium survey.1

So, how could a Self-Invested Personal Pension, or SIPP, help you avoid becoming part of these statistics? 

A SIPP offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to choose and manage your investments tailored to your retirement goals. 

Additionally, this kind of product provides significant tax advantages, helping to maximise the growth potential of your savings.

In This Article, You Will Discover:

    Every Investor has consistently been a reliable source of information in the retirement finance realm, offering insights and advice rooted in thorough industry research. 

    All our content undergoes strict content and fact checks before publication to ensure our information remains relevant and useful. Read on to find out whether an AJ Bell SIPP might be an asset to your retirement planning strategy.

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    AJ Bell Review

    Who Is AJ Bell’s?

    AJ Bell is a financial services company based in the United Kingdom.

    As a well-known investment platform, AJ Bell offers services such as SIPPs (Self-Invested Personal Pensions), ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts), and other investment products.

    AJ Bell’s platform allows investors to manage their portfolios, make investment decisions, and access a variety of financial instruments.

    The company is recognized for its role in the investment and pension industry. However, it’s advisable to check for the latest information, as details about companies may evolve over time.

    What Is a SIPP?

    The Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) is a UK pension scheme designed to give individuals more autonomy over their retirement funds, enabling them to select and handle a variety of investment options like equities, fixed income, and real estate within their pension.

    What Does AJ Bell Offer?

    AJ Bell offers investment products including ISAs, share-dealing accounts, and SIPPs. 

    Listed on the London Stock Exchange, AJ Bell ranks among the UK’s largest investment platforms and provides products both through advisors and directly to consumers.2 

    According to claims found on the company’s website, these investment solutions are intended to be user-friendly and competitively priced.3

    Brief History & Overview

    The company was founded in 1995 by Andy Bell and Nicholas Littlefair in a small Manchester office, using £10,000 in personal loans.4

    From a small actuarial consultancy, AJ Bell quickly expanded into a diverse business.

    Key Players in AJ Bell’s Growth

    Key players in AJ Bell’s growth are the company’s founder, Bell, who resigned as CEO in 2022 after 27 years at the helm and was succeeded by Michael Summersgill.5

    Peter Birch is the current Chief Financial Officer and Roger Stott is the company’s Chief Operating Officer.6

    Current Market Position

    With over 469,000 clients and more than £73,8 billion in assets under administration, AJ Bell holds a strong position in the market.7

    What Are the Features and Benefits of AJ Bell’s SIPPs?

    AJ Bell’s Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) offer a range of features and benefits that make them an attractive choice for individuals looking to plan for their retirement.

    With AJ Bell’s SIPPs, investors have access to a wide range of investment options, including shares, funds, and investment trusts, allowing them to build a diversified portfolio tailored to their specific goals and risk tolerance.

    Additionally, AJ Bell’s SIPPs come with a transparent fee structure, providing investors with greater control and visibility over their pension investments.

    The flexibility to manage and monitor their pension investments online further enhances the convenience and accessibility of AJ Bell’s SIPPs, ensuring that investors can stay informed and make informed decisions about their retirement savings.

    Furthermore, AJ Bell’s SIPPs offer a range of benefits to investors.

    One key benefit is the potential for tax advantages, as contributions made to a SIPP are eligible for tax relief, helping investors maximize their pension savings.

    Moreover, AJ Bell’s SIPPs provide investors with the option to consolidate multiple pensions into one account, making it easier to manage their retirement savings and potentially reducing administrative costs.

    Additionally, AJ Bell’s SIPPs offer flexibility in terms of accessing funds, allowing investors to choose how they want to take income in retirement, whether it be through drawdown or purchasing an annuity.

    Overall, AJ Bell’s SIPPs combine a comprehensive range of investment options with the benefits of tax efficiency and flexibility, making them a compelling choice for individuals planning for their retirement.

    What is AJ Bell’s SIPP Product?

    AJ Bell’s SIPP product (formerly YouInvest)8 provides tax-efficient savings for your retirement, the freedom to choose where to invest your pension pot, and an income when you retire

    Key Features & Benefits

    The key features and benefits of an AJ Bell SIPP include a wide selection of investment options, tax advantages, and the ability to consolidate existing pensions into one convenient account.

    Costs & Charges

    The costs and charges of an AJ Bell SIPP include platform fees starting at 0,25% of the value of your pension pot, with no charges on fund holdings over £500,000 and a capped share charge of £10 per month.

    Share trades are priced at £9,95 each, but this reduces to £4,95 for those executing 10 or more transactions a month, while fund trades cost £1,50.9

    How Does AJ Bell’s SIPP Stacks Up Against Competitors?

    How AJ Bell’s SIPP stacks up against competitors has been measured based on product cost and customer satisfaction as compared to three other SIPP providers, namely Fidelity, Vanguard, and Interactive Investor.

    Let’s take a look at a brief fees comparison before diving into customer satisfaction scores.

    Platform fees: 

    • AJ Bell’s annual funds custody charge is 0,25% on your first £250,000, 0,10% on your next £250,000 to £500,000, and 0% on the portion over £500,000. The custody charge for shares is 0,25% and won’t exceed £10 per month. The firm doesn’t charge an account set-up fee or a funds transfer fee.10 
    • If you hold a regular savings plan, Fidelity’s full SIPP platform fees start at 0,35% for investments under £25,000; if you don’t hold a savings plan, you’ll be charged an annual fee of £90. For investments between £25,000 and £250,000, charges are 0,35%, while the bracket between £250,000 and £1 million attracts a 0,20% fee. For portfolios over £1 million, the first £1m will be charged a 0,20% fee, while the portion over £1 million won’t attract any service fees.
    • Vanguard provides a low-cost SIPP option that charges a 0,15% annual platform fee, which is capped at an annual £375 for accounts over £250,000, but your investment options here will be limited to Vanguard funds.11 Note that you’ll also be charged fund management fees of between 0,06% and 0,80%.
    • Unlike the other providers mentioned here, Interactive Investor offers flat monthly fees, starting at £5,99 and moving to £12,99, for portfolios over £50,000. This flat fee model may appeal to those with larger portfolios.

    Trading costs:

    • AJ Bell’s share trades cost between £4,95 and £9,95 depending on how many trades you made the previous month. Fund dealing costs £1,50. 
    • Fidelity charges £7,50 per online share trade.12 Fund trade fees are set by the companies managing your funds. 
    • Vanguard’s fund transaction costs range from 0,01% to 0,86%.13
    • Trading UK and US shares and funds through Interactive Investor attracts a £3,99 fee—though phone trades come with a significant £49 charge.14

    Customer satisfaction:

    • In terms of customer satisfaction, AJ Bell’s Trustpilot rating weighs in at 4,7 stars.15
    • Fidelity’s Trustpilot rating’s 4,0 stars.16
    • Vanguard scores a Trustpilot rating of 4,1 stars.17
    • Interactive Investor scores a 4,7-star rating with Trustpilot.18

    While these aspects aren’t the only ones to keep in mind when weighing up different providers, they’re a good starting point. 

    Speak to your financial or pensions advisor for more information on the SIPP options available to you. 

    How Do You Start Investing With AJ Bell’s SIPP Products?

    Investing with AJ Bell’s SIPP products provides individuals with a range of options for managing their retirement savings.

    AJ Bell also offers Junior SIPP19 accounts and Junior ISAs20 for parents interested in saving for their children.

    Types of Investments Available

    The types of investments available from an AJ Bell SIPP include shares, funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investment trusts, and bonds and gilts.21 

    This diverse range allows investors to create a portfolio that aligns with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

    AJ Bell also offers a Pension Builder fund, which is aimed at clients who are not sure where to invest their money and would like a more hands-off approach.22

    Flexibility & Withdrawal Options

    When it comes to retirement, there is flexibility in terms of the withdrawal options available to investors.

    You can choose to access your funds in the following ways:

    • By taking an initial tax-free lump-sum of 25% and leaving the rest in a taxable drawdown fund that you will be able to access at any time or put towards an annuity
    • By taking your initial untaxed 25% and using the rest to buy an annuity from a different provider
    • By taking regular (or ‘uncrystallised funds’) pension lump sums that are 25% untaxed and 75% taxed.23

    Tax Implications

    The tax implications include tax relief on contributions and initial lump sums and taxation on withdrawals. 

    Basically:

    • You will benefit from tax relief of 20% on contributions if you are a Basic Rate taxpayer.24 
    • Growth on your investments will not be taxed.25 
    • You will be able to withdraw a lump sum of 25% without being taxed on retirement.26
    • Everything after that initial 25% will be taxed as income, including each annuity payout you receive.27

    Who Is AJ Bell’s SIPP Best Suited to?

    AJ Bell’s SIPP is best suited to people who have the time to and are comfortable making their own investment decisions, as the firm does not offer personalised investment advice.28 

    You may also appoint an external financial advisor to assist you, of course.

    How Do You Open an AJ Bell SIPP?

    Opening an AJ Bell SIPP can be done online and takes around 15 minutes.

    The steps typically include:

    1. Reading the firm’s SIPP information sheet.29
    2. Gathering all the necessary documents, including your National Insurance number, your bank details, your employer’s details, and any documents regarding your existing pension, if applicable.
    3. Filling in the online application form.30
    4. Nominating your beneficiaries.
    5. Choosing your investments.

    Who Is Eligible?

    You are typically eligible to open a SIPP if you are a UK resident and 75 or younger.31

    However, other criteria may apply.

    What Is the Minimum Investment?

    The minimum investment amount is either a £500 initial investment or regular contributions of at least £25 a month.32

    What Are the Charges on AJ Bell’s SIPP?

    The charges on AJ Bell’s SIPP include custody and dealing charges.

    Custody charges differ depending on whether you hold shares or funds:

    • The shares custody charge is 0,25% up to a limit of £10 per month.
    • Funds are charged at 0, 25% on the first £0 to £250,000.
    • The next £250,000 to £500,000 in funds is charged at 0,10%.
    • There is no charge for the portion of funds valued over £500,000.33

    Dealing charges are also different for shares and funds:

    • Dealing charges on shares are £9,95, unless you made more than 10 trades the previous month, in which case you will be charged a reduced fee of £4,95.
    • Fund trades are charged at £1,50.34

    AJ Bell does not charge for the following:

    • Account setup.
    • Account inactivity.
    • Transferring money to your account.
    • Accessing your SIPP.

    The fees and charges quoted here were correct as of 09/01/2024 but may have changed since our last update.

    How Do You Navigate AJ Bell’s Digital Platform?

    AJ Bell’s digital platforms provide users with a relatively seamless and user-friendly experience.

    User Interface & Experience

    AJ Bell has three digital platforms, all of which are user-friendly and designed for different users.

    These platforms are: 

    • the one designed for consumers, featuring an affordable SIPP. 
    • AJ Bell Investcentre, made for financial advisors.35
    • AJ Bell Platinum, which delivers tailor-made SIPP services to corporate clients.36

    Tools & Resources Available

    AJ Bell provides a range of tools and resources to support investors’ decision-making processes. 

    These include investment research, portfolio analysis tools, educational videos, and retirement planning calculators.

    Mobile App Review

    AJ Bell’s mobile app, compatible with both Android and iOS platforms, enables on-the-go account management. 

    Users can instantly view their portfolio details, execute trades, and receive customised alerts. 

    Furthermore, the app facilitates registration, investment exploration, and purchases, besides allowing funds to be deposited effortlessly.37 

    How Do You Contact Customer Service & Support?

    Customer service and support are reliant on open and efficient contact channels.

    Contact Channels

    AJ Bell offers contact channels such as phone, email, online help centre, and live chat, with phone lines open six days a week.38

    Client Reviews & Testimonials

    Besides its Trustpilot score of 4,8 out of 5 stars based on almost 5,000 client reviews,39 AJ Bell also has a five-star rating and gold ribbon for client experience by The Times Money Mentor40 and a five-star rating from Forbes Advisor.41

    What is Regulatory Compliance & Protection?

    Regulatory compliance and protection are important aspects to consider when planning your investments. 

    Regulation

    AJ Bell is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

    FCA Reference Numbers

    • AJ Bell Management Limited: 211468.42
    • AJ Bell Asset Management Limited: 774048.43
    • AJ Bell Securities Limited: 155593.44 

    Registered Company Numbers

    • AJ Bell Management Limited: 03948391.45
    • AJ Bell Asset Management Limited: 09742568.46
    • AJ Bell Securities Limited: 02723420.47

    Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) Protection

    Investors with AJ Bell SIPPs are covered by the FSCS up to £85,000 per person per firm.48 

    Data Security Measures

    AJ Bell employs robust data security measures such as encryption, firewalls, and strict access controls including biometric and encryption keys.49

    What is AJ Bell’s Position in the SIPP Market?

    AJ Bell’s position in the SIPP market may in large part be assessed by viewing the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Strengths & Weaknesses

    AJ Bell’s strengths include the firm’s extensive investment offerings and low platform fees, while weaknesses include relatively high trading fees.50

    Predictions for Future Developments

    As the SIPP market evolves, AJ Bell is likely to continue its commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction. 

    We can expect further enhancements to the digital platform, expanded investment choices, and increased support for retirement planning.

    Final Thoughts & Recommendations

    It is essential to consider your financial circumstances when choosing a pension investment platform. 

    AJ Bell’s SIPP offers a variety of features suitable for different types of investors. 

    However, it is worth comparing this product with other options on the market to ensure you end up selecting the one that best suits your investment goals and strategy. 

    If you are considering an AJ Bell SIPP, seek professional advice before making any decisions.

    Common Questions

    How Do AJ Bell's SIPP Charges Compare to Other Providers?

    How Can I Manage My AJ Bell SIPP Online?

    Can I Transfer My Existing SIPP to AJ Bell?

    Can I Take Out Money from My AJ Bell SIPP Before Retirement?

    Why Are AJ Bell’s SIPPs Considered Among the Best?

    What Fees Are Associated With AJ Bell’s SIPPs?

    How Flexible Are AJ Bell’s SIPPs for Investors?

    Can I Transfer Other Pensions Into AJ Bell’s SIPPs?

    What Investment Choices Do AJ Bell’s SIPPs Offer?

    In Conclusion

    AJ Bell, with its strong market position and adherence to regulatory measures and protection schemes, notably stands out in the SIPP market.

    However, choosing the right SIPP provider is a unique journey for each investor, and ensuring alignment with personal investment goals and strategies is key. 

    Moreover, a comprehensive review of fees, investment options, and customer service will further help in determining the best fit for your retirement planning needs.

    While an AJ Bell SIPP has plenty to offer, it is critical to weigh all factors and carefully compare SIPP providers before making an informed decision.

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