What Is the Best SIPP for You?

Choosing the best SIPP involves evaluating your investment goals, preferred level of involvement, and comparing fees and services across providers, ensuring a fit for your financial journey towards retirement. Personal alignment with the provider’s offerings is crucial.
  • Last Updated: 22 Mar 2024
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  • Our team recently fact checked this article for accuracy. However, things do change, so please do your own research.

Contributors:

Francis Hui
Discover the Best SIPP Options. Consider Your Age. What Are the Tax Considerations? Do I Need an Advisor? How Do I Compare Providers? Don't Miss Out!
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Key Takeaways
  • Consider factors like fees, investment options, and flexibility when choosing a SIPP for retirement.
  • Key factors to consider include fees, investment options, and provider reputation.
  • Explore top UK SIPPs like AJ Bell, Hargreaves Lansdown, and Interactive Investor.
  • Be aware of fees like platform, fund, and trading costs when opening a SIPP.
  • Investment options in a SIPP often include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.

The quest for the ‘best SIPP’ is a familiar pursuit for individuals navigating the Self-Invested Personal Pension landscape. 

Yet, the truth is, a singular ‘best’ does not exist; instead, finding the optimal SIPP becomes a personalised quest informed by your unique investment goals, risk tolerance, and budget. 

There is a lot to consider, especially given the rich history and growth of the UK’s SIPP market: Since the first SIPP was sold in 1990,1 the market has ballooned to an impressive £500 billion in assets2 and now offers prospective investors a multitude of options. 

With this in mind, choosing the right SIPP may sound like a daunting mission, but making a  well-informed decision about what suits you best can have a profound impact on your financial future.

In This Article, You Will Discover:

    In this article, the Every Investor team will explore the leading SIPPs on the market, offering insights into what makes them stand out and providing you with the knowledge to identify which SIPP could best serve your retirement planning needs. 

    All our content undergoes extensive quality and compliance checks before publication to make sure we bring you only the most useful and relevant information. 

    What is the best SIPP for me?

    The best SIPP for you will depend on your individual needs and financial goals.

    It is important to consider factors such as fees, investment options, customer service, and online tools offered by different providers.

    Conduct thorough research and compare different SIPPs to find one that aligns with your investment strategy and risk tolerance.

    Look for a SIPP provider with a strong track record, diverse investment options, and competitive fees. Consider whether you prefer a self-managed or fully managed SIPP, as well as the level of customer support and online resources provided.

    Take into account your long-term investment objectives and choose a SIPP that offers the flexibility and features you need for a successful retirement plan.

    What to Consider When Choosing a SIPP

    When choosing a SIPP, factors to consider include a range of elements that can significantly impact your investment’s success and your financial comfort in retirement. 

    These factors can be broadly divided into two categories based on whether they relate to personal considerations or product features. 

    Personal Factors

    Personal considerations include questions like what your retirement goals are, how much risk you are happy with, and how much control you want over your investments.

    Questions to ask when deciding on a SIPP:

    • At what age will you want to retire?
    • What will your financial needs be once you are no longer working and earning an income?
    • How much risk are you comfortable with, and what kind of investment risks can you take in your current position ahead of retirement?
    • How much investment experience do you have? Will you need help and advice when choosing your SIPP investments?
    • How much control do you want over your investments, and how involved do you want to be from day to day? 

    Provider & Product Features

    Provider and product features to take into consideration include, among other things, their range of available investment options and their performance and reputation.

    Factors to compare when looking at different products:

    • Investment Options: A provider that offers a wide range of assets, including stocks, bonds, funds, and ETFs will allow you the freedom to tailor your portfolio to your investment style and risk tolerance.
    • Flexibility & Features: The best SIPPs offer flexibility when it comes to contributions and withdrawals, and the option to hold a wide range of investments. 
    • Fees & Charges: Understanding a product’s fee structure is crucial as costs can erode your investment returns over time. 
    • Platform Usability & Access: The ease of use of the online platform and mobile app can significantly affect your investing experience. 
    • Customer Service & Support: Look for providers with a reputation for excellent customer support, including access to financial advisors, responsive customer service teams, and comprehensive online help centres.
    • Performance & Reputation: While past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results, the reputation and stability of the SIPP provider are important.
    • Regulatory Protection: Ensure that the SIPP provider is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)3 and that your investments are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).4

    Taking the time to assess these factors will help you choose a SIPP that not only meets your current financial situation but also aligns with your long-term retirement goals.

    What Are the Best SIPPs During Various Life Stages?

    The best SIPPs during various life stages can vary significantly, as your investment goals, risk tolerance, and financial situation evolve over time. 

    Understanding which SIPP features align with your current life stage can help you make a more informed decision. 

    Early Career (20s to 30s)

    At this stage, you are likely focused on building your career and starting to save for retirement. 

    SIPPs with low fees, a wide range of investment options, and strong educational resources are ideal at this time of your life. 

    Look for platforms that support small, regular contributions and offer a variety of growth-orientated investments, as your longer time horizon means you have more leeway to absorb market volatility.

    Mid-Career (40s)

    In your 40s, your earnings are likely increasing, and so is your capacity to save for retirement. 

    You might start focusing more on SIPPs that offer a balance between growth and stability. 

    Providers that offer detailed performance analytics, advanced investment tools, and a broader range of assets, including international equities and managed funds, can be beneficial.

    Pre-Retirement (50s to Early 60s)

    As retirement approaches, the focus often shifts towards preserving capital and preparing for retirement income. 

    SIPPs that offer a range of fixed-income securities, bond funds, and other lower-risk investments may become more appealing at this stage. 

    Additionally, providers that facilitate easy transition to pension drawdown or annuity purchase while offering comprehensive retirement planning tools will be valuable as you approach retirement.

    Retirement (65+)

    Upon reaching retirement, the focus shifts to generating a steady income while preserving wealth. 

    The best SIPPs for retirees are those that provide flexible drawdown options, allow for phased withdrawals, and continue to offer a broad spectrum of investment choices to manage inflation risk. 

    Excellent customer service and easy access to account information are also crucial for managing finances more effortlessly in retirement.

    Throughout All Stages

    Regardless of life stage, certain features remain universally important, such as regulatory protection, transparent fee structures, and a robust platform security. 

    It is also vital to reassess your SIPP provider periodically to ensure it continues to meet your changing needs and objectives.

    By choosing a SIPP that aligns with your current life stage and financial goals, you can optimise your retirement savings strategy and work towards a more secure financial future.

    Do Certain SIPPs Suit Investors With Particular Needs &  Preferences?

    Certain SIPPs suit investors with particular needs and preferences, reflecting the diverse financial goals, risk tolerances, and investment strategies among individuals. 

    The flexibility and wide range of options available within SIPPs mean that some will naturally align better with specific investor profiles than others. 

    Here are a few examples of how this alignment can occur.

    Ethical & Sustainable Investing

    Investors keen on ethical, social, and governance (ESG) criteria will find SIPPs that offer a wide selection of ESG funds and sustainable investment options more appealing. 

    These SIPPs cater to the growing demand for investments that not only offer financial returns but also contribute positively to society and the environment.

    High-Net-Worth Individuals

    Investors with significant assets may prefer SIPPs that offer bespoke investment options, including direct investment in commercial property, private equity, or overseas markets. 

    These investors often benefit from SIPPs that provide dedicated financial advice and more complex tax planning features to optimise their large pension pots.

    Self-Employed Investors & Small Business Owners

    Self-employed investors and small business owners, who may experience fluctuating income levels and lack access to employer-sponsored pension schemes, often require SIPPs that offer maximum flexibility in contributions and a broad range of investment options to diversify their retirement savings. 

    The best SIPPs for self-employed individuals typically allow for ad-hoc contributions, enabling depositors to pay in more when their income allows and less during leaner times without penalty. 

    They also provide a wide selection of investment choices to cater to the varied risk appetites and investment preferences that self-employed individuals might have, from stocks and bonds to funds and property investments. 

    Additionally, these SIPPs often come with tools and resources that help in planning for retirement, considering the unique challenges self-employed individuals face in building their pension pots. 

    Low fees and charges are also crucial, as self-employed investors need to maximise their returns without the benefit of employer contributions.

    DIY Investors

    Those who prefer to take an active role in managing their investments may gravitate towards SIPPs with extensive self-select investment options, real-time trading capabilities, and advanced research and analysis tools. 

    These features allow DIY investors to tailor their portfolio precisely to their investment strategy and risk tolerance.

    Passive Investors

    Investors who prefer a more hands-off approach might favour SIPPs that offer a range of low-cost, passive investment options, such as index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). 

    These SIPPs often come with the option for automated investment strategies, such as portfolio rebalancing and dividend reinvestment plans, simplifying the investment process.

    Retirement-Focused Investors

    For those closer to retirement, SIPPs that excel in offering a seamless transition from accumulation to decumulation phase, providing flexible drawdown options, and income-focused investment choices are particularly attractive. 

    These features help manage the shift from growing a pension pot to using it as a stable income source in retirement.

    Tech-Savvy Investors

    Investors who prioritise convenience and accessibility may look for SIPPs with robust digital platforms, offering mobile app access, online dashboard tracking, and digital tools for risk assessment and portfolio management. 

    These features appeal to those who prefer managing their investments on the go.

    By identifying your unique needs and preferences, you can narrow down the vast field of SIPPs to those that are most likely to meet your specific requirements. 

    Whether you base your decision on the type of investments you are interested in, the level of involvement you wish to have in managing your portfolio, or the tools and resources you need to make informed decisions, there is likely a SIPP on the market tailored just for you.

    What Are Some of the Best SIPPs to Consider?

    Some of the best SIPPs to consider include a number of big players that have been active in the market for a substantial length of time and one or two newer providers.

    These providers can be sorted based on their strengths, namely value for money, investment options, client service, accessibility, and reputation.

    Best Value for Fees & Charges

    Finding the best value for fees and charges involves scrutinising all costs, not just the headline rates. 

    To determine which SIPP would represent the best value for your needs, consider both plans charging fixed fees, which usually work better for larger pension pots, and those charging percentage-based fees, which tend to suit smaller portfolios.

    Vanguard 

    Vanguard charges a 0,15% annual fee on accounts under £250,000, or a £375 annual fee on accounts over £250,000, making it by far the cheapest SIPP provider in terms of annual charges. 

    Ongoing costs range from 0,06% to 0,80%, fund transaction costs range from 0,01% to 0,86%, and there is a one-off ETF fee of between 0,02% and 0,46%.5

    Keep in mind

    When investing with Vanguard, you can only opt for Vanguard funds, so this may not be the SIPP for you if you want to invest in stocks and shares or any other products.

    AJ Bell

    AJ Bell charges a 0,25% monthly shares custody charge up to a ceiling of £10.

    For funds, AJ Bell charges a custody fee of 0,25% for pension pots up to £250,000 and 0,10% on the next £250,000.

    There is no charge on any portion over £500,000.6

    Dealing charges are £9,95 for shares and £1,50 for funds.

    Interactive Investor

    With a flat monthly fee of £12,99, Interactive Investor offers one of the best flat-rate SIPPs around, especially for larger pension pots.

    Share trades cost £3,99.7

    Best Investment Options

    A robust SIPP should offer a diversified range of quality investments suitable for your goals.

    AJ Bell

    AJ Bell’s substantial range of investment options means it earns the top spot on our list.

    Investment products you could consider:

    • More than 2,000 funds. If you need some direction, take a look at AJ Bell’s Favourite Funds list;8 you can also choose a ready-made AJ Bell fund.9
    • UK shares and international shares from the US and Canada, Europe, and the Pacific Rim.
    • Over 450 investment trusts. 
    • ETFs (or Exchange-Traded Funds). You can narrow down your options by consulting AJ Bell’s Favourite Funds list.10
    • Bonds and gilts.
    • Warrants and covered warrants.
    • Exchange-Traded Commodities (ETCs).

    Interactive Investor

    Interactive Investor (ii) lets SIPP investors choose from over 40,000 investment options, including UK, US, and international shares and over 3,000 funds.11

    To help investors narrow things down, ii offers the following: 

    • Six ready-made low-cost funds.12 
    • A ‘Super 60’ collection of handpicked funds, investment trusts, and ETFs.13
    • A rated list of sustainable investments called the ‘ACE 40’ investments list.14

    Best Service & Support

    The best service and support can guide you through complex investment decisions, making this aspect an important one to consider when looking at your SIPP options.

    Hargreaves Lansdown

    Hargreaves Lansdown is highly rated for client service by its investors and has a Trustpilot rating of 4,1 out of 5.15

    The firm also receives a 5-star rating for customer service from Good Money Guide.16

    Fidelity

    Fidelity offers extensive support including a five-day-a-week telephone service, a messaging facility, and an investor walk-in centre in London, where you can make applications, chat to advisors and attend education seminars.17

    Bestinvest

    Bestinvest provides comprehensive support, including a telephone service available six days a week and an email feature.18

    According to its Trustadvisor page, where the firm receives a 4,3 out of 5 rating, clients are particularly positive about their customer service experience—in fact, many reviews mention consultants by name.19

    Best Technology & Accessibility

    Modern SIPPs should be easily accessible across devices, featuring intuitive interfaces and tools.

    If this is important to you, you may want to research the mobile accessibility of various SIPPs. 

    Freetrade

    Freetrade’s user-friendly app provides valuable analysis and information on the stocks it features.20

    The app has a rating of 4,3 out of 5 stars on the App Store21 and 3,9 out of 5 on the Google Play Store.22 

    Nutmeg

    The easy-to-use mobile app offered by Nutmeg allows investors to manage their portfolios, make trades, and access news and insights on the move.

    The app has a 4,8 out of 5 star rating on the App Store.23

    Best for Reputation & Security

    When looking for the most suitable SIPP, robust security measures and a good reputation also need to be investigated.

    Firstly, check if the provider you are considering is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)24 and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).25 

    When it comes to reputation, it makes sense that providers who have been in the SIPP market longer will have more substantial records to compare.

    For this reason, you may find providers like AJ Bell, Hargreaves Lansdown, and others easier to compare than newer entrants.

    Remember

    While reputation can be important, a SIPP’s past performance is not an indication or guarantee of its future performance.

    Common Questions

    How do I choose the best SIPP for my retirement needs

    What are the key factors to consider when selecting a SIPP

    Can you provide a list of the top SIPPs available in the UK

    What fees should I be aware of when opening a SIPP

    What investment options are typically offered within a SIPP

    How Can I Determine My Investment Goals for a SIPP

    How Can I Assess My Risk Tolerance for SIPP Investments

    What Are the Key Factors to Consider When Comparing SIPP Providers

    Are SIPPs Regulated

    What Fees & Charges Are Associated With SIPPs

    What Is the Role of a Financial Advisor in Choosing a SIPP

    What Are Common Pitfalls When Choosing a SIPP & How Can I Avoid Them

    In Conclusion

    Selecting the most suitable SIPP requires careful consideration of your current life stage, financial goals, and personal investment preferences. 

    Whether you are a hands-on investor looking to manage your portfolio actively, a self-employed individual seeking flexibility and diversity, or someone nearing retirement in need of stability and income-focused options, there is a SIPP out there tailored to your needs. 

    Remember, the key to finding the best SIPP lies in assessing the range of investment options, fee structures, platform usability, and the level of customer support provided. 

    As your financial circumstances and goals evolve, so too might your criteria for what constitutes the ideal pension plan. 

    Regularly reviewing your SIPP to ensure it continues to align with your retirement objectives is therefore also essential. 

    By doing so, you can rest assured that you are on the right path towards a secure and fulfilling retirement, backed by the best SIPP for your unique journey.

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