Robinhood hires CEO ahead of possible UK launch

Share trading platform Robinhood’s UK launch is a step closer following the hire of Freetrade's former chief

woman on phone looking at stocks app
(Image credit: Getty Images)

US-based stock trading app Robinhood’s UK launch may be a step closer following the hire of a UK CEO.

According to an FCA filing, Jordan Sinclair has been named as Robinhood’s UK chief, having previously served as managing director of the European fintech Freetrade.

The appointment marks the latest development in the platform’s long-awaited UK launch, which has been on-and-off for over four years.

Robinhood went public in 2021, raising close to $2 billion.

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But what will the launch of Robinhood mean for UK retail investors, and will it stack up against the competition?

What is Robinhood?

In practice, Robinhood is an investment platform that allows investors to buy and sell stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and cryptocurrencies.

It rose to prominence during the lockdowns of 2020 and acted as a bedrock for the boom in retail investing in the US. There, it gained notoriety after it “gamified” investing for novice traders, particularly young people. They were drawn to its user-friendly interface and fee-free trading.

Its model of making investing accessible and approachable has driven its growth. In February 2023, the company reported 12 million monthly active users, with assets under custody of $74.7 billion.

When will Robinhood launch? 

The app’s parent company, Robinhood Markets, has long planned to launch the service in the UK but has so far not been able to.

In 2019, the company gained broker authorisation from the FCA and opened a waitlist for people in the UK, but was later forced to postpone its launch.

In a statement published in 2020, the company said: “A lot has changed in the world over the past few months, and we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone our U.K. launch indefinitely. As a company, we are refocusing our efforts on strengthening our core business in the U.S.”

“Although our global expansion plans are on hold for now, we’re committed to democratising finance for more people around the world. We look forward to the day when we can bring this mission to the U.K.”

But the appointment of Sinclair has reignited talk of Robinhood’s long-awaited UK debut.

A Robinhood spokesperson declined to comment on any plans for the app’s potential UK launch, but we will update you on the latest developments as they happen.

What investment platforms would Robinhood be up against?

The UK investment platform market is already mature, with large brands competing for customers.

In April, Virgin Money launched its own platform, aimed at those relatively new to investing, while earlier in the year, M&G Investments launched the &me investment services to help new investors. AJ Bell launched Dodl last year, also aimed at beginners.

Robinhood’s UK app would be in direct competition with these platforms as well as the likes of Vanguard, AJ Bell, interactive investor and Fidelity.

While they all act as a platform to invest on, each service varies in terms of costs, what may be liable for a fee, the kind of investments you can access and whether any kind of advice is offered. 

In the US, Robinhood gained a user base that valued the DIY-approach with its low-cost, no-thrills service, and may attract the same kind of investor should its UK launch go ahead.

So, if you’re not looking to pay for the expertise of a stock picker, then Robinhood could be a good option for you. We will update you with all the details on how to sign up, fees and how it compares to other fund platforms as soon as more details are unveiled. 

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Tom Higgins

Tom is a journalist and writer with an interest in sustainability, economic policy and pensions, looking into how personal finances can be used to make a positive impact. He graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a BA in journalism before moving to a financial content agency. 

His work has appeared in titles Investment Week and Money Marketing, as well as social media copy for Reuters and Bloomberg in addition to corporate content for financial giants including Mercer, State Street Global Advisors and the PLSA. He has also written for the  Financial Times Group.

When not working out of the Future’s Cardiff office, Tom can be found exploring the hills and coasts of South Wales but is sometimes east of the border supporting Bristol Rovers.