Freetrade App Review

Back in May 2018,  I invested in Freetrade, a new stockbroker app, via CrowdCube.

It went on to become the most over-funded equity offering.

Anyway, after what felt like the longest wait ever, the app was finally available for download for Android today – here’s the Forbes’ announcement.

So, nearly a year after my crowdfunding investment, I have finally been able to download the app (after initially taking part in their beta-test). IOS users have been using the app since October so yes, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting all this time to try it out.

Search for stocks under ‘Discover’

What can I say, except that I can’t describe the feeling of being able to buy very small amounts of shares without being charged a trading fee!

The app is slick, responsive, simple yet aesthetically pleasing.

How will Freetrade make Money?

It operates a freemium business model, which anyone who plays ‘free’ games on their phones will be familiar with – you get a great basic app for free but if you want some bells and whistles, there’s a small cost.

In Freetrade’s case, basic buy/sell trades are all bunched together and executed for free at around 4pm on a working day. Great for someone like me who’s not bothered about price or timing the market.

However, if you want to buy/sell immediately, it costs a £1. For people used to paying £10-£12 per execution, this is a huge difference. Hell, I might even be tempted to part with the odd £1 occasionally for a quick sale/purchase!  Current pricing can be viewed here. At some point, Alpha accounts will be introduced, for a monthly fee, providing discount on instant trades and other services.

One of the reasons I’m more of a passive investor is because with conventional brokers, actively trading too much adds to high costs, eating into my gains.

These free trades or low fee trades are kind of dangerous.

My ‘test’ portfolio

How so?  The free/low cost trading might actually encourage some to over-trade, tempting people to buy/sell on a whim.

Or not. I guess it depends on what type of investor you are. At the end of the day, no big fees when you want to re-balance your portfolio or want to take advantage of some low prices, so definitely a win.

I think this app might well change the way I invest – previously, I waited for dividends to accumulate up to a minimum of £100 before I reinvested once a month (using my platform’s £1.50 regular investing facility).

With Freetrade, I will be able to invest when there’s just a few quid of dividend cash in the account, so my cash in the account will be invested a lot quicker.

Apologies that my cheap Android phone doesn’t do the app any justice in the screenshots as it’s only got a small screen.

You might get a better view of the screens here.

Android Compatibility

Speaking of cheap Android phone, the app is only compatible with Android version 7.0 and above. My current phone is on Android 6 so yes, I picked up a new basic handset just so that I could use the app! (thanks @Chris Perry for reminding me to add this to the post!)

What’s on Offer?

At the time of writing, ISAs were availabe for IOS users, priced at a fixed £3 per month (from July 2019 – it’s currently free).

ISAs should be available for Android users from next month and I will be setting up my 2019/20 ISA with them to see how it goes. I’m not sure if ISAs can be transferred just yet but it’s definitely in the pipeline.

Basic graph thingy…

At the moment, the choice of investments is nowhere near what you have available with say Hargreaves Lansdown, but pretty much all of the FTSE100 is available, much of the FTSE 250, many ETFs, a few investment trusts and also numerous US shares – FANG stocks anyone?

New stocks are being added all the time (albeit slowly) while the team concentrate on continuing to improve the app.

Topping Up

At the moment, the only way to top up my Freetrade account is by bank transfer (you have to link a bank account to the app).

Top up via Apple Pay is available for iPhone users and I believe other methods of topping up will be added in time.

So it’s not as handy as topping up via debit card which I’m able to do right now with my other platforms, but it’s no great inconvenience doing the bank transfer.

Google Play store is showing a load of one star reviews, received when the company made the decision a few months back to allow the app to be downloaded, only to place the people in a queue.

For people who read the blurb and were expecting this, fine; for those who didn’t and were expecting a fully working model, they one-starred it. Hopefully, there will now be better (and more accurate) reviews now that the fully-working model has been delivered. Apparently, there have been over 20k downloads already.

There is still plenty of scope for improvement and the Freetrade team continue to work on the development of the app to incorporate functionalities we’ve become used to with other brokers (eg ISA transfers, SIPPs etc) and other functions, such as being able to buy fractions of shares (US only). Here is their open product roadmap, documenting what they are working on.

I’ve not tried to do any research of stocks or other investments on the app – right now, I prefer to do my research from other websites, so improving this area isn’t a biggie for me but some users have mentioned that there wasn’t enough research/news material. All in good time, I guess.

Also, checking my portfolio on my phone is something quite new to me as I do pretty much all my investing on pc or laptop. Hopefully, this might mean that I won’t be too tempted to tinker…

One thing I’m really looking forward to doing is ultimately having my Dogs of the FTSE portfolio on here as it will be the perfect platform to run the experimental portfolio. I might even reconsider doing another Monkey Stocks portfolio – let me have a think about that!

Another thing I’m interested in, is seeing Freetrade added to Monevator’s broker comparison table – if I were a gambling woman, I’d put money on Freetrade being the cheapest!

Anyway, with Freetrade being FCA registered and investments being covered by the FSCS, I can’t wait to continue to build my portfolio using this app.

[Disclaimer – Aside from being an investor in the Freetrade company, I have no affiliation whatsoever with Freetrade (ie this is not a sponsored post) and this is not a recommendation to download the app (although, why not? 🙂 ). There are no referral links in this post]

Dogs of the FTSE 2018 – final update

Just a quick update to say that I’ve reached the twelve-month mark for my 2nd experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio.

So how did the mutts perform with the markets going all pear-shaped towards the back-end of last year?

As a reminder, here’s the Dogs of the FTSE strategy:

  1. Choose the ten FTSE 100 shares with the highest yield (subject to my criteria*)
  2. Invest equal amounts in all ten shares
  3. Hold for a year (give or take a week)
  4. At the end of the year, sell the ones no longer in the top ten, replace with new shares with highest yield
  5. Repeat from step 3

[*criteria being that shares already in my portfolio are not included, nor any where a dividend cut has been announced]

Here’s how the 2018 portfolio looked after a year (as at 11th Feb 2019):

 

A very decent 8.77% gain, but if you include dividends, this becomes a mighty 16% gain for the entire portfolio! Nice!

Over this same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was minus 2.02% so woo hoo, the Dogs romped home this year! 🙂

Ok, so most of the gains were from just one stock (Evraz) but with some other gains (eg National Grid and United Utilities), the small losses made little impact on the portfolio.

What’s Next?

I do intend to run a 2019 portfolio, or rather a 2019/20 portfolio but there will be a slight delay, because I’m going to wait til next tax year as I plan to use a different ISA account for this experiment.

So for now, I will just hang onto all the Dogs for a while longer and sell/buy when I am able to.

The Dogs will return in April!

December 2018 Savings, plus Round Up

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and enjoyed the celebrations last night to see in the new year, whether you were out in a noisy pub/bar or at home watching ‘Jools’ Annual Hootenanny’ – I was doing neither, as I was already tucked up in bed suffering from jet lag well before Big Ben’s chimes rang! I could have dragged myself out to meet up with friends but FOMO can’t compete with sleep these days!

Anyway, I had a great break in Hong Kong, spent a lot of quality time with family, ate too much, though surprisingly drank very little.

So, how did I do in the last month of the year?

I saved 38.4% – surprisingly higher than expected but I put some of my Christmas shopping on my credit card so that will appear on next month’s bill.

My average for the year ended up at 43.2%. Although I didn’t achieve my goal (again) to hit that elusive 50%, I’m quite satisfied with this average.

The above savings include top ups from £155 matched betting profits (from last month), £42.61 from TopCashback* and £66.32 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all those who joined via my link – much appreciated!). I also withdrew £1k from my Smarkets exchange account which was chucked into my SIPP.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I made an investment in JPMorgan Asian Investment Trust – don’t have a lot in this region so thought I’d diversify a bit.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I think this is the rockiest year of investing that I’ve encountered so far – no Santa Rally this time.

My Future Fund ends the year at £142,831, which was around what it was back in April 2018 – one step forwards, three steps back it seems! Hitting my £150k milestone back in September seems like a dream now but I look forward to hitting it again in 2019!

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Dogs of The FTSE Q3 (2018)

It’s been around 9 months since I set up my 2018 experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio, so time for another update.

With the markets recently in ‘chaos’ and ‘turmoil’, what happened to my poor little flea-bitten canines?

As at close of trading on 19th October 2018, the portfolio was showing a 4.92% gain from its starting value.

Including dividends received, it’s a 11.53% gain.

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was 0.34% so the Dogs weathered the recent rocky patch and came out of the other side more or less intact! Ok, so half of the stocks are in the negative but these are cancelled out by the other ones which are positive, so I’m not too concerned.

Nothing to do really except to keep track of dividends as they roll in and see how things look in another 3 months’ time and then, it’ll be time to get rid of dogs that didn’t make the grade and bring in some new ones!

Until the next Dogs of the FTSE update!