This is not a recommendation. If you want financial advice tailored to your circumstances seek independent financial advice. We are independent and receive no payment from Vanguard for writing this review.
Vanguard have just launched a bombshell into the UK fund management industry. They've just launched a website so that not only can you buy their funds but you can also invest on their platform. In other words, you can invest your ISA with Vanguard. And of course because it's Vanguard the fees they charge for their platform is just 15 basis points: that's 0.15% which means that if you invest ten thousand pounds you'd only pay fifteen pounds per year in management costs. So here's the step by step process by which you open an account with Vanguard but also the funds which are made available to you and also the very low fees which they charge once you're on board.
To give you an idea of the split between the fund charges and the account fee here are two examples given by Vanguard. If you invest twenty thousand pounds in one of their LifeStrategy funds then your fund charge would be 0.22% per year and your account fee would be 0.15% per year. In total that would just be 0.37% or seventy four pounds a year or if you buy their S&P 500 ETF the fund charge would just be 0.07% and the combination of fund charge and account fee would be only 0.22% per year which is extremely competitive.
So this is what the screen looks like when you come to start a new account on Vanguard's website. I'm a new client so I'll click here.
You have a choice of three different types of account: an Individual Savings Account (ISA) where you can buy a selection of Vanguard funds but it's outside the tax system so if you make any capital gains or interest payments you don't have to pay those to the taxman and the amount you can put into that in this tax year for 2017 is twenty thousand pounds. Now that's the one I'm going to go for but if you're saving on behalf of your kids you can also have a Junior ISA and if you've already used up your ISA allowance or you don't want to use an ISA wrapper you can just open a normal investment account. So I'm going for the ISA option.
Before you open the account Vanguard lays out the ground rules. They say that you're going to be charged an annual account fee, a very low one because this is Vanguard. And that gives rise to an annual ongoing charge and it also outlines the limitations of an ISA. Now you have to be a UK resident to open one of these ISAs and you're supposed to read the key feature document and also the terms and conditions which of course I have done. So I click here and I proceed and we're taken to this three-stage process.
First we choose our investments then we give our personal details and then we complete our order. Straight away you can see that the choices are fairly limited. Whereas with a standard brokerage account you'd have access to hundreds of funds and thousands of shares in this case you have 15 blended funds, let's take a quick look at those.
Now these will be cross-asset it's not just shares it contains bonds too and for example these life strategy funds which we've already reviewed let you choose the amount of equity which you have in the fund ranging from 20 percent to 100 percent.
You also have these target retirement funds where you choose the year of your retirement and Vanguard tries to build a fund optimized to give the best possible returns by that target date.
There are 32 equity funds. Some of them have a geographic focus such as these European funds. You can go for developed Europe or for a Socially Responsible Investment fund in Europe or you can go for these global funds or you can go for the UK Japan or Asia the USA or Emerging Markets. And we have 20 fixed income funds based in Europe, Global, UK, Japan, US and Emerging Markets. They also give the choice of cash but at the moment given inflation's almost 3% that would give you a negative return in real terms.
Just to show how it works I'll make a small investment into a European corporate bond fund. And the minimum investment is 500 pounds, then I click on next, I fill in some personal details.
They need my name, a National Insurance Number, my address and when I was born. So I'll fill those in.
In the next screen we give user details: username and password, my mobile number and optionally a landline number.
On the next screen you add your payment details. So you can see that European corporate bond ETF which I chose.
And here they give a bit more detail about the fees its 0.15 percent per year on account holdings up to £250,000 so the most you'll ever pay is three hundred and seventy-five pounds (per year). I have to fill in this check box to prove I've read the key investor information document and that I'm happy to complete the order. I also enter my debit card details. Again of course you won't be seeing that.
And so we're done. We've created our ISA account and now I can start to invest in my Vanguard ISA fund.
They very clearly show the remaining ISA allowance so I don't invest more than the £20k limit.
And we can see our pending transaction: I've bought 11 units of this VECP fund.
I can see my holdings.
I can see my fund performance - of course I don't have any yet because I've just opened the account.
And once my fund is running I'll be able to see the geographic regions in which I've invested which is incredibly useful for managing your risk. You don't want to concentrate too much risk in any one geographic region because ideally we'd like to be globally diversified. We can also see the sector allocation and we'd aim to diversify across sectors too. So we'll come back to this in more detail once I've started to construct my ISA.
So the website is very easy to use it's very simple. There are no frills and they certainly won't hold your hand like they would with a robo fund like Nutmeg. But if what you're after is very low fees and you are willing to put in the work to educate yourself about which funds to buy and you're not worried about limiting yourself just to Vanguard funds then Vanguard's website will really tick all of your boxes
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