Best SIPP Providers

Discover the 10 best SIPP options available in the United Kingdom to begin investing for your future.

Updated: April 8, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

 

Are you looking for alternative pension options to begin saving funds and investing for your future? Many arrangements require you to let the pension provider choose how you invest.

Yet, there is an option that gives you more freedom to make your own investments.

Self-invested personal pension options allow you to take control of your own pension.

It offers several advantages that are worth looking at if you're looking for an alternative pension. In this article, I'll share what I found about the best self-invested personal pensions.

ServiceScoreRegister
1. Hargreaves Lansdown★★★★★Click Here
2. AJ Bell★★★★★Click Here
3. Bestinvest★★★★★Click Here
4. Aviva★★★★Click Here
5. Fidelity★★★★Click Here
6. Freetrade★★★★Click Here
7. Barclays★★★★Click Here
8. Interactive Investor★★★★★Click Here
9. Charles Stanley★★★★★Click Here
10. Standard Life★★★★★Click Here

What Is a Self-invested Personal Pension?

A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) is a personal pension that allows you to choose your investments freely.

The investments you can select are typically wider-ranging than ordinary pensions. With a SIPP, you have access to your own retirement savings account with flexible asset allocation. 

Now, the asset types you select with an SIPP will be HMRC-approved. I found that they include a few main choices, such as exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, bonds, stocks and shares.

What's more, if you pay income tax above the basic rate, you may be eligible to receive income tax relief with your SIPP.

What Are the Features of Self-invested Personal Pensions?

Self-invested personal pensions have multiple features worth considering.

Here are the key features you should take into account when reviewing your options.

✔️ Annual allowance: You'll have a personal allowance, which is the yearly amount you can pay into the SIPP and still receive tax relief advantages. The personal allowance is £60,000.

✔️ Transfer options: You can transfer your existing pension to a self-invested personal pension SIPP. Many services will allow you to transfer from UK-registered or recognised overseas schemes.

✔️ Tax advantages: When you reach a specific age, you can access your pension through a tax-free lump sum. You will not need to pay capital gains tax or income tax on the investments you make, so tax relief is possible. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Self-invested Personal Pensions?

Pros

Pension consolidation: If you need to consolidate pension contributions from multiple accounts, you can bring them together into one SIPP account.

Long-term contributions: It's possible to make long-term contributions. Making contributions is possible until you reach 75.

Investment choice: You are in the driving seat with SIPP accounts. You can choose which investments you make and align these investments with your retirement savings goals.

Available to anyone under 75: As long as you're under the age of 75, you can open a SIPP. It won't matter if you're not a UK resident, but if you don't pay taxes in the UK, tax relief will not apply.

More investment options available: Compared with a workplace pension, you've got access to a larger selection of investments with a SIPP.

Cons

High costs: You may find that a SIPP can have higher costs or charges when compared with alternative pension providers or personal pension options.

​​❌ Inaccessible until a specific age: You won't be able to access your SIPP until you reach 55. After 2028, you won't be able to access the SIPP until you reach 57.

Suitable for experienced investors: You might find that you may make mistakes with the investments you make since SIPPs give you control of all your investments. Therefore, there are some investment risks involved when you choose a SIPP.

Execution-only options: Since SIPPs are execution-only options, you won't receive advice from the pension provider about what your pension pot should include.

Best SIPP Providers in the UK

After using 10 of the best SIPP options in the United Kingdom, I gathered my key findings on their main features.

Here are the key findings for each of the best SIPP providers.

ProviderYearly Account FeeFund Dealing FeeShare Dealing FeeMin Deposit
1. Hargreaves LansdownUp to 0.45%£0£5.95 – £11.95Lump sum of £100 or from £25 a month
2. AJ BellUp to 0.25%£1.50£3.50 – £5Lump sum of £1,000
3. BestinvestUp to 0.40%£0£4.95​Min £120 per year
4. AvivaUp to 0.40%Up to 0.40%Up to 0.40%Lump sum of £5,000 or £25 a month
5. FidelityUp to 0.35%From 0.05%£1.50 – £30Lump sum of £800 or £20 a month
6. Freetrade£11.99 per month or £119.88 per year£0£0Not stated
7. BarclaysUp to 0.25%£0£6Lump sum of £1,000
8. Interactive InvestorFrom £5.99 a month£0£3.99£25 a month
9. Charles Stanley£100 + VATUp to 0.35%0.35%Not stated
10. Standard LifeVariable£0£0Lump sum of £2,400 or £240 a month

1. Hargreaves Lansdown

More than 500,000 clients use the Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP account. When I used it, I received several advantages. I could make monthly direct debits with payments with the lowest amount starting at £25. I had the freedom to temporarily pause my payments when I needed to.

I liked that I could select my own investments and that if I needed extra support, I could choose a ready-made portfolio and gain the advice of a financial adviser. The financial adviser could even choose the investments on my behalf.

Now, with Hargreaves Lansdown, I had a yearly charge of 0.45% for holding my investments, which never exceeds this amount. This amount would have been lower if I had a fund value of between £250,000 and £1m. 

For example, when I had invested £40,000 in funds and £20,000 in shares, I had to pay a charge of £22.50 each month because the rate was 0.45%. The amount would have been 0.25% with a fund value between £250,000 and £1m.

I noticed that a few of my investments had specific annual charges but that more than 2,500 funds, overseas shares, UK shares and investment trusts were available. With the help of the financial adviser, I could invest in dividend-paying UK businesses to supplement my income.

It was also possible to select ready-made investments. When I made a £1,000 investment in this plan, the charge I paid each year was 0.75% or £7.50. I found that the growth fund focuses on company shares that may have had risks but had greater growth potential.

However, I could also select the cautious fund, which focuses on government bonds and investments with lower risk.

2. AJ Bell

AJ Bell has more than 499,000 clients. It's a well-known SIPP provider in the UK. When using AJ Bell, I had the flexibility to choose the amount I wanted to save. I was pleased that my savings were tax-free, and there were many additional advantages, such as the chance to manage the pension myself.

Since I had an average pension pot, the annual charge I had to pay was 0.25% each year. I was able to choose my fund and let an expert handle it on my behalf, but I could also select a portfolio or select from AJ Bell's shortlist of worldwide funds.

More than 2,000 funds are available with AJ Bell, meaning I could diversify my portfolio to minimise risks. Some of the portfolio investment options included exchange-traded funds, shares and investment trusts. Thousands of shares, a range of exchange-traded funds, and 450 investment trusts exist.

While there were some factors I could not invest in, such as commercial property, loans, gold bullion and private company shares, I could select from specific funds with AJ Bell's support. Several options are available, from growth investment purposes to responsible growth and income investment arrangements. 

When I selected the income and growth fund, I found that this investment arrangement was ideal for receiving a consistent income. It focuses on aggressive assets such as shares and steady assets like bonds.

I also looked into the cautious fund. Now, with this investment option, I found that the investment carried less of a risk. It delivered a good return and avoided aggressive assets like shares.

3. Bestinvest

Bestinvest provides low-cost SIPP options and is an award-winning SIPP provider. It has more than 50,000 clients. When I used Bestinvest, I found that several perks came with this provider.

The fees for a ready-made portfolio began at 0.2%, which I paid yearly. However, if I wanted to select other investments, it would start at 0.4% each year. I found that if I had an account value of between £250,000 and £500,000, a 0.2% charge would have applied and that an account value of between £500,000 and £1m came with a 0.1% charge — these charges applied to ready-made portfolios. 

I found that a platform fee of £120 each year applied to the SIPP. Seven ready-made portfolios are available.

I chose the cautious portfolio and was able to receive moderate growth that was higher than the rate of inflation. This portfolio came with quality bonds and equity as the greatest asset allocation for my investment.

When I researched into the other ready-made portfolios, I found that a maximum growth option was available as well as adventurous, growth, balanced, conservative and defensive options.

Bestinvest offers thousands of investment opportunities as well as their ready made portfolios. Exchange-traded funds, UK shares, and investment trusts are all available from this SIPP provider. Additionally, if I wanted to transfer pensions to this provider, there would have been no transfer fees.

I was also pleased to receive a financial advisory service that offered me research and support on shares and funds. 

4. Aviva

Aviva offers SIPP options that provide basic rate tax relief. When I used this service, I found that it came with additional benefits. I could choose to pay a minimum of £25 each month or a one-off payment of at least £5,000.

I found that Aviva offered five investment options that suited my investor experience level. They offer novice to professional options, including a Universal Retirement fund, ready-made funds, expert shortlisted options, a self-managed fund or shares and exchange-traded investments.

When I chose the ready-made funds, I found that there were two options. The growth option came with several risk levels, including lower, lower to medium, medium to high and higher categories. When I chose the lower to medium risk level, I found that I could invest in a combination of fixed interest or bonds, property and shares. 

Now, a fund manager charge applied to my statement, and an Aviva charge also applied. The fund manager charge was 0.33%, and the Aviva charge was 0.40% since the value of my investment was £50,000. If I had an investment of £200,000, the Aviva charge would have been 0.35% and if I had £250,000, the Aviva charge would have been 0.25%.

With the Income investment arrangement, I could receive a regular income and steady capital growth over time. I had to pay a charge of 0.40% and noticed that the value of my investment fluctuated over time. 

5. Fidelity

Fidelity has more than 1.6 million customers in the United Kingdom. They offer more than 50 years of investing experience. I used Fidelity's SIPP service and found plenty of useful features. For example, I was able to select what I wanted to invest in and had the option to contribute lump sums or adhere to a regular savings plan.

I liked that Fidelity offers online investment tools to guide my investment decisions. I could also choose from expert-created investment funds, a retirement builder plan and thousands of investments by searching the investment finder.

When I selected the expert-created funds option, I found that investment trusts, exchange-traded funds, bonds, shares, property and many other investment options were available.

To be specific, Fidelity offers over 3,000 funds ETFs and investment trusts that they screen for performance. They consider whether they are likely to continue performing well and meet every three months to review the funds. Fidelity also completes qualitative and quantitative reviews to complete the selection process.

In terms of the retirement builder plan, I looked at the available features and found that it offers three main benefits. This plan helps individuals grow their money over long periods, diversify their portfolios and make investments globally, so you can take advantage of a range of investment options. 

The asset allocation available with this plan includes nearly 60% stocks, 38% bonds, 2.34% cash and a few others.

Since I invested more than £25,000 and established a regular savings plan, I received a beneficial low service fee of 0.35%. I noticed that the fee would vary depending on the value of the account. For instance, with less than £25,000 in the account, the service fee Fidelity expects is £90 a year or £7.50 each month.

The fees change if you have an account worth between £250,000 and £1m, for which they will charge 20%. This is one of the pension funds that have additional charges such as share dealing, stamp duty, foreign exchange charges and a few others.

6. Freetrade

Freetrade offers a SIPP option that comes with a fixed fee. It is reliably protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and provided me with plenty of advantages when I tried it out. The provider allowed me to transfer my pension through an app, which took just a few taps of the screen. I also used their additional services.

For instance, Freetrade offers investment options such as exchange traded funds, stocks in Europe, the US and the United Kingdom, investment trusts and REITs. 

The SIPP fee I paid was just £11.99 each month for the Plus plan, and I did not need to pay a commission.

7. Barclays

Barclays offers self-invested personal pension options to help you save for retirement. I used this service and found that there were multiple perks. The returns did not require me to pay income tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax, as with most SIPP providers. Barclays also offers a flexible drawdown and low SIPP fees.

With an investment of up to £200,000, I only faced a fee of 0.25%. If I had an investment of more than £200,000, I would have had a lower fee of just 0.05%.

I found it possible to transfer my pension to the Barclays SIPP and could select from thousands of investments. Specifically, 8,000 investments are available. Yet, I could also select from five ready-made investments offered by this provider.

Some of the ready made investments that Barclays offers include defensive, cautious, balanced, growth and adventurous. I selected the cautious investment plan and found that the asset allocation leaned towards shares and short term bonds. It was made up of 38% shares, 33% short-term bonds and cash, and 29% bonds.

8. Interactive Investor

Interactive Investor provides clients with flexible SIPP arrangements that allow them to choose their own investment decisions. When I used this service, I could select from investment options such as exchange-traded funds, investment trusts and funds, bonds and shares.

Tax benefits came with the SIPP contributions — the government provided a 25% boost on the amount I paid in. I was pleased to pay a low, flat fee and that I didn't need to pay any drawdown fees, since this latter cost was included in the monthly SIPP fee. The SIPP fee started at £5.99 each month for the Pension Essential plan.

I noticed that when my account value was above £50,000, the fee increased to £12.99 per month. I was able to invest just £25 each month and had access to an investing service through Interactive Investor. Additionally, when I wanted to make UK and US trades, they only cost £3.99.

I was pleased that Interactive Investor did not charge me extra for taking money from my pension pot, so I could access it. 

What was also ideal about Interactive Investor was that several Quick-Start Funds were available. Some of the funds available include cautious, balanced and growth options. 

The cautious fund aims to provide long-term growth and a return of 2% over inflation spanning five years. The balanced fund aims to provide consistent long-term growth and provide a return of 3% over inflation spanning five years. The growth fund aims to provide consistent long-term growth and a return of 4% over inflation spanning five years.

I could choose one of these ready-made portfolios and had the option to select between passive and active investing. I had to consider my risk tolerance and savings goals. Since I had conservative savings goals, I selected the cautious plan. 

I was able to choose between having 20% and 60% in shares. Compared with the balanced and growth plans, this was a lower amount of shares, with the balanced fund offering between 30% and 70% and the growth fund offering between 40% and 80%.

Other funds are available, such as the options on the Super 60 investment list and the ACE 40 sustainable list. While I didn't use this fund, the Super 60 option is selected based on the performance and quality of the investments.

I found that the ACE 40 selections would have been ideal for every investor and that Interactive Investor hand picked them due to their likelihood of delivering an excellent financial performance. Some of the asset groups accessible from this selection include fixed income and global equities options. 

Overall, Interactive Investor is an excellent SIPP provider that is worth considering, which is why it makes this list. 

9. Charles Stanley

When I used the Charles Stanley SIPP, I noticed that flexible drawdown options were available and that I had the freedom to select where I wanted to invest my funds. Several options were available. Like a few others on this list, this SIPP provider offers exchange-traded funds, UK shares, bonds and investment trusts.

Now, several investment services are on offer through Charles Stanley. They have direct, bespoke and advisory services. The direct investment service has a fee of 0.35% and I did not need to have a minimum investment. The bespoke investment service had a minimum investment of £200,000, as did the advisory service. 

With the direct service, I could use the support of Charles Stanley dealers to make informed investment decisions. I was able to construct the portfolio myself.

I noticed that with the bespoke service, an investment manager was available to manage portfolios. With this service, Charles Stanley will construct your portfolio for you in line with your investment preferences.

Although I didn't use the advisory investment service, I noticed it hands portfolio management service over to the client. It's possible to seek advice from Charles Stanley when making investment choices.

I had the option to transfer my private pension to Charles Stanley, which made pension pot consolidation easier.

10. Standard Life

Standard Life offers a SIPP account with a couple of options. They offer an option for experienced investors and a simplified option. I selected the SIPP for experienced investors and found that I could access mutual funds and specific investments.

With this option, I had to make a minimum payment of £240 each month, or a lump sum of £2,400 a year. These amounts were the before-tax relief amount and were expected because I had under £50,000 in my SIPP account.

I found that if I had more than £50,000 in my SIPP account, the minimum pay in amount would have been £80 each month or £800 each year. This rate, with the rate I paid, would have been topped up with basic rate tax relief.

Various investments were available with Standard Life. For example, I could choose from pension funds, mutual funds, commercial property and more. There were three levels of investments, including levels one, two and three.

Level one provided over 300 pension funds. Level two provided access to more than 4,000 mutual funds, and level three provided commercial property, gold bullion and various other options.

I was eligible for the level three option since I arranged my plan with the help of a financial adviser.

What Are the Main Reasons to Invest in a SIPP?

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme completed research into the main reasons people invest in SIPPs. There are six main reasons to consider.

Many individuals consider the flexible perks of investing pension money as they see fit a key reason to invest. The second most popular motive was the tax efficiency benefits. Many people also like the fact that SIPPs provide higher investment returns compared with annuities.

Best Self-Invested Personal Pensions: The Verdict

Self-invested personal pensions are a great way to save for your future and diversify your portfolio with smart investments. Plenty of SIPP providers are available, so it's important to compare their features if you're interested in selecting one.

One of the best SIPP providers is Hargreaves Lansdown, but you'll find that the vetted list of providers I used are among the very best. It's a great place to start if you want to find a reliable selection of self-invested personal pension providers.

Compare SIPP providers to find the perfect arrangement that works for you; invest towards your future and reap the rewards of flexible investment funds.

Related Guides:

Best SIPP Options in the UK in 2024: FAQs

How Can I Choose a SIPP Provider?

Is It Worth Getting a SIPP?

What Is the Difference Between a SIPP and a Private Pension?

What Are the Main Investments You Can Hold in a SIPP?

How Does the SIPP Work?

Which Fees Will I Pay to a SIPP Provider?

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