- Robinhood in the US is the most famous, but over here we have Freetrade.
Freetrade was founded in 2015 by Adam Dodds and has regular crowd-funding rounds on Crowdcube (there was another in the week following that in which I wrote this post).
- Freetrade has an FCA licence and joined the London Stock Exchange so as to be able to process its own orders in bulk.
I signed up to the waitlist a long time ago and persuaded enough of my friends and colleagues to do the same (using my referral code) that I made it almost to the front of the queue.
- So I was looking forward to the beta test until I discovered that there was no desktop site, no Android app and the iOS app needed a recent version to work.
Even the waitlist app for Android needed a recent version of that operating system.
I’m also not a massive fan of trading from phones, so the lack of a website could have potentially been a big issue.
A couple of weeks ago, my other half upgraded her phone after just fifteen months and handed me the old one.
- So I now have a Samsung S8 running Android version 9.
This is by far the nicest phone that I’ve ever had, and suddenly trading from my phone doesn’t seem impossible.
- As part of the new deal, I also got a Huawei tablet running Android 8, so I also have the option of trading from a 10-inch screen.
As you might have gathered, the Freetrade Android app is now live, and there is no waitlist.
- It still needs Android version 7 or higher, though.
I have my own theory on why they might not want to support older versions, but I don’t plan to air it here.
Trades on the main UK platforms run from £12 at Hargreaves Lansdown, down to £5 at iWeb and £6 at X-O.
- I have tried out DeGiro, where most trades work out at less than £2, but their European insurance scheme meant that I never put more than £20K into the account.
Some platforms have discounts for frequent traders (usually cheap trades in the month following a busy month, which is not as useful as it sounds).
- Others allow cheap trades if you bundle your purchase with everyone else, in a large trade done once per day.
Which is essentially the approach that Freetrade uses.
- Freetrade charge nothing for the 4pm bulk trade, and just £1 if you want your own instant trade.
They also charge £3 per month for an ISA (or rather, they will from July 2019).
Foreign trades (currently just US stocks plus some Asian companies listed as ADRs in New York) have an FX surcharge of 0.45% over the spot rate.
- I don’t know if you can change a part of your account into dollars and hold the money that way, or if you have to convert on each trade individually – I suspect the latter.
I have a couple of thousand dollars on my PayPal account and this could be a good use of it – assuming that PayPal transfers are accepted.
The “Freetrade securities universe” – which you can find here – contains just 354 securities:
- 10 of these are ADRs of non-US stocks listed in the US.
- 184 are UK stocks (more than 30 of these are investment trusts)
- 117 are US stocks
- 43 are UK ETFs
So you would need to be pretty selective as a UK stock investor.
- The US list and the ETF list look more interesting, as do investment trusts.
The obvious omissions are European stocks and AIM stocks.
- I’m not sure why Euro stocks are missing but I would imagine Freetrade is steering clear of AIM to avoid liquidity issues with their 4 pm bulk trades.
Article credit to: https://the7circles.uk/freetrade/