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.
75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
- 1 Best Way to Invest Money UK
- 2 Best Ways to Invest Money UK Reviewed
- 3 Getting to grips with stocks
- 4 ETFs, Index Funds, Mutual Funds and Investment Trusts
- 5 Cryptocurrencies
- 6 Commodities
- 7 CopyPortfolios & Copy Trading
- 8 Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
- 9 Best Investment Platforms UK
- 10 How to Invest Money on eToro Tutorial
- 11 Best Way to Invest Money UK – Conclusion
- 12 FAQs
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 – Invest Now
- Commodities – Invest Now
- Cryptocurrencies – Invest Now
- Exchange traded funds, Index Funds and Mutual Funds
- Stock and Shares ISA
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 your 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 building up a retirement pot of savings for a rainy day fund or perhaps a big ticket item purchase in the relative 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, stocks will be part of the story. Take a core and satellite approach, where you perhaps place 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 too 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.
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 around 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 away 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 may be 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 activity will expand fastest and involves the sort of discretionary spending that may have been capped during a period of retrenchment, 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 cyclicals.
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.
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:
- Energy stocks
- 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 fund, index funds and mutual funds are important parts of the investment universe. These vehicles allows investors to pool their funds – hence collective – to invest in either a basket of underlying assets of 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 asset class. The various types of funds can invest in just about every part of the financial universe.
Why ETFs are so popular
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 though physical (directing holding an asset) or synthetic (using derivatives) replication and are bough 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. Sometime 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 an how they trade. Basically, a mutual fund does not trade from minute to minute on the stock market with constantly changing price but instead has its price set once a day – usually at the end of the day.
Mutual funds are what is 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 with 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 the value of their underlying assets. trading at a discount means the trusts is valued at less then 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 buyback 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 longer term then the ups and down 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 refers 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.
CopyPortfolios & Copy Trading
Investment platform eToro is a leader in automated trading systems, with its innovative copy trading system where investors can copy the trades of other investors on the platform. The company has taken that a stage further with the introduction of Copy Portfolios. These are similar to the collective funds we discussed earlier and are built around certain industry themes and hold a basket of stocks to provide exposure in those areas. Unlike ETFs and mutual funds however, they do not come with management fees and charges. The only cost associated with them, is that incurred in the price spread when the trader being copied of the CopyPortfolio you have invested in executes trades.
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 the £20,0000.
So if you made a 100% return on your investment in 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. We have narrowed it down to two: eToro and Fineco Bank. eToro wins out at the top of the pile because of its value for money, but each individual investors requirement will differ, and so too will their choice of broker ti suit their investment needs.
1. eToro – Overall Best Broker to Invest Money UK
We selected eToro because its trading is commission-free; eToro fees are among the lowest in the broker marketplace. But perhaps equally important is its easy-to-us interface which places the emphasis on illumination not intimidation. eToro also pays the stamp duty on share deals on your behalf, representing a substantial saving.
The FCA-regulated broker – which now has as many as 20 million clients worldwide, allows you to invest in a wide range of stocks from around the world and the most popular ETFs. It also offers markets in its own proprietary CopyPortfolios. In addition, a number of its markets are available through the CFD trading route and leverage also available for those looking to make their money go further.
We particularly like its selection of top ETFs, such as the Powershares QQQ ETF, which tracks the Nasdaq 100 index comprised of many of the leading US tech companies. Because the market is closed the example below shows the CFD version of the ETF.
On eToro ETFs can either be accessed as the underlying product or through contracts for difference (CFDs) instruments. The screenshot above shows the CFD version.
If you elect not to use leverage then you will be buying the actual underlying ETF.
In addition to the CopyPortfolios, you can also passively follow individual traders using the Copy Trader feature. The Copy Trader feature enables you to track an experienced trader with proven verifiable returns, as displayed in real-time on the eToro platform. Below is the term sheet for the SharpTraders CopyPortfolio, which copies 20 individual eToro traders.
There are a total of 40 CopyPortfolios to choose from, divided into three sections: market, top trader and partner CopyPortfolios.
An additional benefit of choosing eToro is that the broker is good for newer investors. Both the website and mobile app are easy to use and there is no overly confusing investment jargon, with everything as far as possible in ‘plain English’.
Getting started with eToro takes literally a few minutes and you can instantly deposit funds with a UK debit/credit card or e-wallet. There is a withdrawal fee of $5 for each withdrawal. The company is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and deposits of up to £85,000 covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
- 0% commission broker,
- Stamp duty is paid by platform
- Commodities available for diversification
- Innovative CopyPortfolios and Copy Trader features
- 255 top ETFs and 40 CopyPortfolios to choose from
- Social networks with copy trading
- Can trade top cryptocurrencies
- Regulated by the FCA
- FSCS coverage of up to £85,000
- Withdrawal and inactivity fees
- Foreign exchange charges
- Charges in buy-sell price spread
75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
2. Fineco Bank – Best broker for sophisticated investors seeking a huge range of instruments
If your preferred investment or asset class is not listed on eToro, then you are very likely to find it at Fineco Bank. 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 breath 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 it can’t compete with eToro’s 0% commissions. 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:
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 logon 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.
How to Invest Money on eToro Tutorial
Opening an eToro account is a breeze. To be fully verified you will need to provide a government-issued ID such as a passport or drivers licence and proof of where you live in f=the form of a utility or other bill. You can start trading without providing those details but to make full use of the platform you must provide this verification.
The minimum amount you can invest is $200. The base currency of the site is the US dollar. Further sums can be deposited from a minimum of $50.
Once you have made a deposit you are ready to trade.
To keep your portfolio diversified in this eToro trading walkthrough we suggest buying a position in Apple, Berkshire Hathaway and Gold, We also consider a small amount of Ethereum and open a position in a copyPortfolio. In our examples below we will show you how to buy Apple stock and how to invest in a CopyPortfolio.
Let’s begin by investing in Apple
Click on the ‘trade markets’ button or enter ‘apple’ in the search bar at the top of the view:
Click on the Apple logo that appears in the results for whichever route you took to find the security. You will now be on the page to buy apple shares, which includes details such as the news feed, stats, chart and research. If you have not funded your account you will not be able to access the research information. From the Apple profile page, click on the blue ‘trade’ button:
75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
Enter the amount you wish to buy. We have created a deal size of $1,000:
Enter your stop loss. We have created a stop loss in which the position closes if we lose more than 10% of our outlay, which in this case is $100 (see above).
We have left the take profit at the level set by the system default, at $10,000. Now click open trade (blue button in screenshot above).
The trade may not execute instantaneously depending on how long it takes to match your buy request with a seller. After a few seconds you will see a on-screen message:
Go to the portfolio view to see the new Apple position.
To buy a position in Berkshire Hathaway, Gold and Ethereum, repeat the steps above. eToro’s gold and other commodities market use contracts for difference products which means you are not buying the underlying asset. Instead you buy a contract in which difference between the buy and sell price at the point at which the contract is closed determines the return on investment.
Now we will invest $5,000 in a CopyPortfolio
We choose the TravelKit from the Market portfolios category. The minimum amount you can invest in a CopyPortfolio is $2,000.
On the TravelKit profile page we can check details about our investment such as the performance and holdings:
We enter enter the amount we wish to invest ($5,000):
We set the stop-loss so that we cannot lose more than 85% of our investment (see above), which means if the value of our investment falls below $4,250 we will stop copying the CopyPortfolio.
Click the blue ‘invest’ button to execute the trade. You will see an on-screen message appear to confirm that the order has been successfully executed:
Best Way to Invest Money UK – Conclusion
eToro offers a wide variety of markets, encompassing as many as 3,000 securities in all. That should be enough to provide the most picky of investors with sufficient options to meet their needs. However, what we particular appreciate about eToro is its 0% commission model on trading. Instead, you only have to pay a portion of the spread on each trade you make. Additionally, eToro is unique in its Copy Trading and CopyPortfolio offering. 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, eToro allows investors to take leveraged positions. This is where the design and layout also comes into its own, with everything clearly signposted, such as exactly what you exposure is given different amounts of leverage or when you are buying the underlying asset as opposed to when you are buying the CFD.
|Fee for share dealing||Share CFD Commission||Annual management charge||Deposit Fee||Withdrawal Fee|
|eToro||FREE||0%||None||0.5% FX fee||$5|
Best Broker to Invest Money UK – 0% Commission
75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
Where is the best place to invest money without risk?
Savings accounts and bonds are the best places for the lowest-risk investments. But savings account returns are currently very low although the risk of losing your money is exceptionally low and if the firm taking your deposit was to fail, you are entitled to £85,000 in compensation for each institution you hold deposits at, courtesy of the UK's Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Are corporate bonds a good investment?
Corporate bonds are financial instruments that package loans to companies and you would buy one if you wanted to lend to a company in return for a regular income from the interest yield earned. As you would expect, lending to riskier companies will command a higher interest payment, so some investors chase high-yielding bonds, sometimes referred to as 'junk bonds' because they are defined by ratings agencies as sub investment-grade. However, the risks will be greater. For a steady and safe investment, investing in the bonds of large blue-chip companies is the safest bet.
Can I lose all my money by investing in shares?
There is a risk with any investment, but with shares there is indeed always a risk that the company fails and you could lose your entire capital.
How much should I invest in shares?
The traditional optimum balanced portfolio was considered to be 60% stocks and 40% bonds. This may well still be a good starting point for constructing an investment portfolio and when thinking about the proportion of shares you hold. However, bear in mind that government bonds in particular are low-yielding at the time of writing, which has forced investors to invest more of their money in stocks and shares. The exact amount you invest in shares will ultimately depend on your risk tolerance. Other asset classes in addition to or instead of bonds could be brought into the portfolio, such as commodities and property and perhaps even crypto for the less risk-averse investor.
Should I invest in property because it is one of the safer asset classes?
The phrase 'safe as houses' might lead some to imagine that property is one of the least risky of investments, but this is not necessarily the case. If you are primarily buying a property to live in, then whether its price goes up or down may not be a concerned. However, for many individuals and families, residential property is their largest asset and seen as a store of wealth and may be looking to sell at some point in the future. Therefore fluctuation in prices in a negative way could be a substantial risk, especially if you end up in a negative equity situation, where the value of the mortgage loan is greater than the value of the property it was taken out to buy. Those looking to invest in property could buy shares in a real estate investment trust (Reit) or a mutual fund investing in property. Both those routes provide greater liquidity, meaning – in normal times – the units in the fund or shares in the trust can be readily bought and sold on the open market.
Should I invest in gold as a safe haven?
Gold is the traditional safe haven asset with a reputation built up over millennia, and as such should be at or near the top of your list for safe havens for your money. The downside with gold however is that it generates no income, either in the form of dividends or interest payments.
Which stocks provide the best returns?
Growth stocks that hold out the possibility of the value of capital rising – i.e. the company shares increasing in price, tend to be found in sectors such as technology. Technological change and other emerging themes such as investment in renewable energy and an ageing population, could all see growth potential fulfilled in coming years. However, the trick it to pick the winners and not the losers. A new technology is not necessarily a guarantee of profits and today's leaders may not be the eventual big winners.
Can I get all my money back if the brokerage goes bust?
No, you won't necessarily get all your money back if the brokerage fails. Amounts up to £85,000 at any one institution are safe, but above that amount there is no compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. By spreading your investments across a number of institutions you get more protection, but this could be highly inconvenient. It is relatively rare for brokers and banks to fail in the UK. The last bank (not including commercial banks) to fail in the UK was Northern Rock in 2008 and that was the first such failure in 100 years.