Home Best Way to Invest Money UK 2021
Gary McFarlane
Fact Checked
Fact Checked
Everything you read on our site is provided by expert writers who have many years of experience in the financial markets and have written for other top financial publications. Every piece of information here is fact-checked.
Please note that we are not authorised to provide any investment advice. The information on this page should be construed for information purposes only. We may earn commissions from the products mentioned on this site.

If you have a pot of money burning a hole in your pocket you need to put it to work. The days when you could just park money in a savings account paying 4% are long gone. We explain why it makes sense to invest in company stocks for higher returns and how to control the risks involved. Read on for the best way to invest money UK in 2021, from stocks to commodities and crypto too.

Best Way to Invest Money UK

Need help finding the best way to invest money UK? Below is a list of different assets that could be set to earn great returns in the year ahead and beyond. Keep scrolling for a full review of each.

  • Individual stocks 
  • Commodities
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Exchange-traded funds, Index Funds, and Mutual Funds
  • Property
  • Stock and Shares ISA
  • Bonds

Best Ways to Invest Money UK Reviewed

When you are thinking of the best way to invest money UK it will depend firstly on how much you have, secondly on when you need to access your funds, or to put that another way, how long you intend to stay invested, and thirdly what your attitude is to risk. Your approach to investment goals will vary depending on whether you are considering how to invest £10k as opposed to how to invest 200k.

If you have a smaller amount to invest you may want to take a more risk-averse stance, in which capital preservation is more important. Alternatively, if you are younger and are therefore likely to be invested in an asset for a longer period of time, then you may be more comfortable with taking on greater risk.

There are widely available risk tolerance calculators in which you answer a series of questions to determine your risk profile, which will ask you things like, how much you have to invest, how much you would be able to bear losing, the types of investments you are considering given the risks attached to each and what you investment goals – are you saving for your child’s education, buying a house or other life events or looking to invest for retirement for a pot of savings for a rainy day fund or perhaps a big-ticket item purchase in the relatively short term such as a new car.

Ultimately the best ways to invest your money will depend on your individual requirement. Nevertheless, for most people with money to invest in, stocks will be part of the story. Take a core and satellite approach, where you perhaps place the medium-risk asset in the core but surround it with smaller satellite investments that complement the core and may include securities that entail taking a higher risk.

Lastly, always remember the risk-reward trade-off: the higher the reward you are targeting, the more risk you will need to take and vice versa.

Getting to grips with stocks

Stocks are an easy investment concept to understand but knowing which ones to commit your hard-earned money to is a different matter altogether. In the UK alone, there are around 3,000 stocks to choose from. A way of starting to narrow down the range of choices is to first think about the various qualities of stocks, as between high and low risk, large and small companies, types of industries, etc.

Market capitalisation

Larger companies will tend to be safer than smaller companies simply because they are more established in their markets and as mature companies are likely to have achieved sustained profitability.

Smaller companies on the other hand tend to be riskier precisely because they are in the throes of establishing themselves in their target markets and may not have achieved the revenue to secure profitability as they are at the beginning of their growth journey.

Larger companies will be much more likely to pay a dividend. However, smaller companies are more nimble than their larger counterparts and can move with greater agility to grab profitable opportunities. Smaller companies by definition have better growth potential than mature larger companies

Smaller companies tend to have a more domestic market focus while larger companies are more likely to have an international component to their market share.

All of these market capitalisation considerations should be taken into account when making an investment and can have a significant bearing on the risk being taken and expected returns.

Growth vs value

Growth stocks are generally considered those that are able to significantly beat the average growth rate of the overall market. They will tend to be focused on new technologies and/or be in new and expanding markets. Growth companies may also be disrupters in sectors other than technology per se and may instead have a new product that happens to be much better than that offered by competitors and has a way of protecting that value differential from copiers.

Value companies are defined as those companies – from whatever – sector that are valued below their intrinsic value and maybe in out of fashion sectors. In addition to being on cheap valuations, they also tend to be in cash-generative sectors such as consumer goods and may be more likely to pay a dividend to shareholders. Value companies can be found in other areas too, such as energy, metals, utilities, and other industrial sectors.

The debate over the comparative worth of value versus growth stocks is one that will run and run, but over the past 10 years and more, growth stocks such as US tech stock giants have been the stock market out-performers.

Cyclical vs non-cyclical

Cyclical stocks are those which are most sensitive to the expansion and contraction of economic activity, which can be said to take place in repeating cycles. These economic and business cycles vary across countries and industries but are interrelated. Cyclical stocks tend to benefit at the beginning of a new economic cycle as an economy starts to reflate after an economic downturn. These stocks will be operating in areas where the activity will expand fastest and involves the sort of discretionary spending that may have been capped during a period of retrenchments, such as airlines, clothing, entertainment, and travel stock.

Non-cyclical sometimes referred to as non-discretionaries – are those stocks of companies operating in sectors where spending persists across economic cycles because consumers and industrial buyers of goods and services have no choice but to continue with those purchases. Utilities would be one example. Here, even if demand might fall to some extent, heating homes or keeping factories powered will remain a top priority and among the last to be cut from expenditures.

Some commentators see value stocks coming back to the fore over the next few years as economies recover from the Covid pandemic and investors rotate out of richly (overvalued?) tech stocks into consumer cyclical.

Domestic vs global

There was a time when investors tended to focus predominantly on their home market. Today however it is easy than ever to put your money to work anywhere in the world, with most investment platforms providing access to shares in companies from around the world.

However, there are important differences to be aware of between the economies of various countries and regions as well as foreign exchange risks.

Each stock market has its own breakdown of dominant sectors and industries. For instance, the UK economy is dominated heavily by services while the German economy has far more manufacturing exporters. Elsewhere, the US, for example, is home to many of the world’s largest tech companies, so too is China.

Additionally, if you are investing in shares denominated in foreign currencies then there will be some risk of moves in exchange rate going against you which you should take into account. So if the pound falls against the dollar and you are invested in US stocks, you will lose some of the value of those stocks when you realise investment gains and have to convert the dollar holdings into sterling.

Industrial sectors

You should try and balance your investment across industrial sectors and/or concentrate on the ones that best fit your investment goals. For example,  growth opportunities are likely to be best in technology ETFs than banking, but the risks may be greater. If you want to target income (dividend payments), then banking may be preferable to tech. Below are some of the mai sectors to consider, although this is not the exhaustive list:

  • Consumer
  • Industrials
  • Health
  • Technology
  • Energy stocks
  • Utilities
  • Financials
  • Basic materials

Those are just some of the main industrial sectors  – and they can all be further subdivided. Think carefully about the sectors you want to invest your money in from the point of view of expected returns and the level of risk involved. You may also prefer to invest in those sectors you know more about. This is a valid approach but always keep in mind the need to diversify to protect the overall value of your portfolio.

ETFs, Index Funds, Mutual Funds and Investment Trusts

So-called collective investment vehicles such as exchange-traded funds, index funds, and mutual funds are important parts of the investment universe. These vehicles allow investors to pool their funds – hence collective – to invest in either a basket of underlying assets or to track an index that may represent just one asset class or a collection of securities within an asset class, or indeed a mix of an asset class. The various types of funds can invest in just about every part of the financial universe.

ETFs have risen greatly in popularity over the past few years because of their flexibility and cheapness. ETFs track the price of an underlying asset either through physical (directing holding an asset) or synthetic (using derivatives) replication and are bought and sold on stock exchanged just like ordinary shares. The ETF industry in 2020 held around  $7.7 trillion in assets under management.

Index funds are a subset of ETFs but can also be constituted as mutual funds. Sometimes simply referred to as tracker funds, these funds will track the returns of an index, such as the FTSE 100 or the S&P 500 for example. They do this by holding the underlying asset class as previously explained or through using derivatives to gain exposure. Index funds and ETFs are extremely cheap ways of bringing diversification into your portfolio because through a single purchase you can gain access to a multitude of underlying securities.

Take a look at mutual funds too

Mutual funds are outwardly similar to ETFs in that they can hold a basket of investments but they are very different in construction and how they trade. Basically, a mutual fund does not trade from minute to minute on the stock market with constantly changing prices but instead has its price set once a day – usually at the end of the day.

Mutual funds are what are known as open-ended vehicles because they sell units to investors on a demand basis and therefore have an ‘open-ended’ capital structure. To liquidate your holding you must sell back the unit to the fund issuers as opposed to ETFs where you would simply sell the shares.

Don’t overlook investment trusts

Investment trusts are a less popular form of collective investment vehicle. They trade on the stock market like a regular share but unlike mutual funds, these are closed-ended in terms of capital structure. This means that they have a relatively fixed capital structure and do not trade at their net asset value as is the case with mutual funds and ETFs (usually).

Investment trusts either trade at a discount or premium of the value of their underlying assets. trading at a discount means the trust is valued at less than the net worth of its assets, while trading on a premium means it is valued more highly than the assets it owns. trusts have some advantages over mutual funds in that they can borrow (gearing) to enhance their returns, although this can open them up to bigger losses. They can also buy back their shares to control the discount. This flexibility means that trusts can smooth their returns by holding back dividend payments in some years for example and varying the amount of gearing they choose to use. Also in terms of governance, they have an independent board of directors to provide an element of oversight regarding fund management.


Cryptocurrencies are not even considered a legitimate asset class by some investors, so as you can imagine investments in this sector are considered highly risky. However, with institutional investors now taking a fresh look at the sector, with investments from and entries from the likes of hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones, Tesla buying bitcoin for its company treasury, PayPal listing a number of digital assets and fund giants and banks such as Fidelity and Morgan Stanley getting involved in the asset class, attitudes are changing fast.

Behind the change in views on cryptocurrencies is the money printing by governments around the world in the wake of the Covid pandemic and the debasement of currency this entails and rising fears about the return of inflation. For anyone with money to invest, inflation is a huge potential threat as it erodes purchasing power. However, for debtors inflation is a good thing as it means they will have less to pay back, and there is a sneaking suspicion among at least some investors that this is why some governments and central banks are not worrying about inflation and may in fact welcome it, providing it doesn’t get out of hand. But whatever your view, leading crypto bitcoin is developing a reputation as digital gold, as a hedge against debasement and inflation.

If you choose to invest in Bitcoin, it’s is massively volatile but if it is held for the long term then the ups and downs tend to trend higher, so placing a small amount (up to 5% perhaps) of your net worth into bitcoin or the best bitcoin stocks could be an option. There are also other crypto assets worth considering such as Ethereum which has a use case as a decentralised world computer on which anyone can execute applications, with areas such as collectibles tokens (non-fungible tokens (NFTs) starting to gain traction and decentralised finance (DeFi) applications, where smart contracts are used to design fully programmable loan products and much more.


Commodities refer to naturally occurring products such as oil and copper or cotton and wheat.

Investment in these areas are can be effected cheaply using ETFs and mutual funds and can being valuable elements of diversification a portfolio that is weighted towards stocks and other asset classes. This is because commodities’ prices may tend not to move in the same direction as those of stocks, and this lack of positive correlation becomes a useful diversifying factor.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

Individual savings accounts (ISAs) are tax wrappers available to UK taxpayers in which up to £20,000 can be invested in stocks and shares tax-free every year.

There are a number of other ISAs in addition to the stocks and shares version, such as the Cash ISA. However, with returns so low ion savings accounts, these can only be recommended if you are looking for a safe place to park some money short term and do not have an expectation of a return much more than around 1.5% per annum.

Back with stocks and shares ISAS, if you don’t use the tax-free allowance, no part of it can be rolled over into the next tax year. With capital gains tax currently at £12,300, ISAs are a highly tax-efficient way of shielding your investment returns from the taxman. All the gains made within the wrapper are tax-free, even beyond the value of £20,0000.

So if you made a 100% return on your investment in the 2020/21 tax year the entire £40,000 would be yours with no tax to pay. There is a wide choice of ISA providers on the market to choose from and you will want to consider things like platform fees and other charges when making your choice as well as the depth of the educational and research offering from the provider.

Best Investment Platforms UK

The UK has dozens of investment apps and stock brokers to choose from. 

1. Fineco Bank – Best broker for sophisticated investors seeking a huge range of instruments

Fineco logo

This trusted provider is backed by an Italian investment bank – and is fully licensed by the FCA. FSCS protections are also in place, so the safety of the money you invest should not be a concern.

For us, Fineco Bank stands out because of the sheer breadth of the markets it offers. Via ETFs, there are literally thousands of ETFs and index funds to choose from as well as model portfolios.

If you choose Fineco you can sign up for its regular saving plan in which you pay a monthly fee. The basic plan starts at £2.95 a month. For £19.85 a month you can make 12 trades which represents a considerable saving. But if you are looking for a platform that has a huge range of securities to choose from, then Fineco Bank may be for you. Aside from index funds and ETFs, there are options and futures markets, bonds and of course shares (£2.95 per trade), and CFDs.

Fineco charge 0.6 pips in the spread on FTSE 100 and NASDAQ CFDs.

For sophisticated investors, you can also trade options and futures products.

Fineco is also strongly competitive on exchange rate fees, even beating Revolut:

FinecoBank £4.46 £22.30
REVOLUT £4.99 £44.93


You also need to factor in a 0.25% annual platform fee. On the flip side, the minimum investment is just £100 on Fineco Bank and you can easily transfer funds from your UK bank account.


  • Access to thousands of UK and international stocks and funds, including tracker funds
  • Charges just £2.95 per trade when buying and selling ETFs
  • Tight spreads on CFD index funds
  • Deposit funds with a UK bank account
  • Heavily regulated, including an FCA licence
  • Suitable for both newbies and seasoned investors
  • Great research and educational department
  • Highly secure login and account management
  • Can also apply for a Fineco Bank debit card
  • Options trading for sophisticated investors
  • Level 2 service available

  • 0.25% annual fee
  • Regular savings plan schedule overly complicated

Your money is at risk.

Best Way to Invest Money UK – Conclusion

Fineco Bank offers a wide variety of markets, encompassing as many as 3,000 securities in all. That should be enough to provide the pickiest of investors with sufficient options to meet their needs. Instead, you only have to pay a portion of the spread on each trade you make. This makes it an easy platform to get started on for newbies but also provides the sophistication to appeal to more experienced traders. For example, Fineco Bank allows investors to take leveraged positions. This is where the design and layout also come into their own, with everything clearly signposted, such as exactly what your exposure is given different amounts of leverage or when you are buying the underlying asset as opposed to when you are buying the CFD.


Where is the best place to invest money without risk?

Are corporate bonds a good investment?

Can I lose all my money by investing in shares?

How much should I invest in shares?

Should I invest in property because it is one of the safer asset classes?

Should I invest in gold as a safe haven?

Which stocks provide the best returns?

Can I get all my money back if the brokerage goes bust?

Gary McFarlane

Gary McFarlane

Gary was the production editor for 15 years at highly regarded UK investment magazine Money Observer. He covered subjects as diverse as social trading and fixed income exchange traded funds. Gary initiated coverage of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies at Money Observer and for three years to July 2020 was the cryptocurrency analyst at the UK’s No. 2 investment platform Interactive Investor. In that role he provided expert commentary to a diverse number of newspapers, and other media outlets, including the Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard and the Sun. Gary has also written widely on cryptocurrencies for various industry publications, such as Coin Desk and The FinTech Times, City AM, Ethereum World News, and InsideBitcoins. Gary is the winner of Cryptocurrency Writer of the Year in the 2018 ADVFN International Awards.