From Boring Money Bulletin September 2017

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Customers' Faves

We’ve been adding to our reviews and we now have over 700 individual customer reviews of online investment providers on the site. Over 200 are for Hargreaves which gives a fair indicator of their ongoing klout today.

So what’s going down in Customer-ville? Well, MoneyFarm are jumping up and with 18 reviews today they have an 89% recommend score. People like the simplicity, the low fees and the ease of use. The few quibbles are about the returns over the last 6 months.

I have been guided to the higher end of investor scale labelled "adventurous investor" and over 6 months returns are a rather measly 2.75% - what are other robos doing over this time?”

With just 5 reviews today Vanguard is still to make an impact but the early comments are positive and I love this honest review which I actually think could form the entire basis of a few providers’ marketing campaigns.

Cheap, excellent customer service. I do not have a large amount invested and am in my late 20s, so have not done a lot of research on my investments because I can't be bothered.”

Around a quarter of investors we’ve surveyed this month said that are considering switching providers, with Vanguard mentioned most as the destination of any potential transfers. How many of these transfers will materialise remains to be seen. Our Customer Acquisition Report, published this month, placed Vanguard in a unique position relative to other providers, appealing more to slightly younger and far more confident investors than other asset managers and platform.

Fidelity feedback continues to be a bit beige (they have a relatively low recommend score of 55%) and we note a propensity for their customers to hold other accounts with competitors.

"Unlike Hargreaves Lansdown, you can't pay ISA fees from a parallel non-ISA fund so every month they sell some of my shares to fund the ISA. That's annoying and they should change it.”

In part this behaviour will have been driven by the lack of integrated share dealing on the service.

With 43 reviews, Nutmeg is the dominant robo adviser being reviewed so far. Interestingly we are starting to hear more comments about performance again. This review picked up a nuance I hadn’t considered – for some investors the simplicity of the proposition and the fact that it is all done for them, adds an impression of a lack of transparency. It’s the same debate about transparency versus clarity we had way back when commissions were banned and pricing structures re-modelled.

“Ideal for those not confident in investing in funds themselves. Takes away work of doing so. Spreads risk. I sometimes find the performance details rather opaque compared to fund factsheets on Fidelity as an example. Sometimes gains aren't as large as I might expect and hard to get a handle on why.”

It’s been an unfortunate few weeks for Barclays Smart Investor as they transition clients from Barclays Stockbrokers. We’ve seen a fair few people come to our website and leave negative reviews for the platform. Feedback has been split between people struggling with the new login via internet banking and more confident investors finding the new website more dumbed down than the old Stockbrokers site.

The new share dealing format is so bad, I am now looking around for a more professional stockbroker, I just can't cope with the so-called 'Smart Investor', it is obviously NOT intended as a serious, regular, share dealing/broking service.”

We’re more positive on the new site as a place for novice investors; however, the previously-Barclays Stockbrokers customers tended to be savvier investors looking to deal in more esoteric investments, for whom Smart Investor is a perceived step back. “It's like Tomy or Fisher Price made it” quotes one reviewer. We think this is a case of needing to take one step backwards before taking two steps forward.

In other news, TD Direct Investing is picking up decent reviews and is only a squeak away from our minimum requirement of 20 reviews, before being considered for a Boring Money Best Buy. Reviewers are positive on cost, service and the mobile app in particular. It will be interesting to see if the solid reviews continue as the merger with Interactive Investor proceeds and the inevitable re-platforming starts.

You can see all of our reviews in the Best Buys section of our site.

Other articles:  CUSTOMER FAVES | BLIMEY! OW MUCH? | SUSPICIOUS SAVERS | ROBO RETURNS |

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