Best junior stocks and shares ISA platforms
A junior stocks and shares ISA is a great way to save for your child tax-efficiently. But it can be confusing deciding which investment platform to choose. We reveal some of the best junior stocks and shares ISAs.
Junior ISAs can be a great way to save and invest for your child’s future and as we approach the new tax year, you may be looking at making the most of this year's allowance.
Parents, relatives and friends can contribute a total of £9,000 into the account each tax year, and any investment gains are tax-free.
Junior ISAs have grown in popularity since launching in 2011. Like adult ISAs, there are two types of Junior ISA: cash ISAs, and stocks and shares ISAs. Almost £3.5bn is held in junior stocks and shares ISAs, while almost £3.7bn is held in junior cash ISAs, according to HMRC.
Although junior cash ISAs are more popular, a junior stocks and shares ISA is often a better choice, especially if the child is young.
This is because shares almost always beat cash over long time periods. You can open a Junior ISA for a baby, and the money can’t be withdrawn until the child turns 18 – giving you quite a long timeframe. So you should have time for your child’s savings to ride out any market downturns.
But, it can feel overwhelming trying to work out which junior stocks and shares ISA to open. There are lots of investment platforms to choose from, all with their own pros and cons. Some are particularly cheap, while others may offer better investment choice, or more sustainable or ethical funds. One even lets you send a personal message and photo when paying money into the Junior ISA.
We round up the best junior stocks and shares platforms to help you choose a product that is easy to use and should build up a decent nest egg for your child to spend or save when they reach their 18th birthday.
Best Junior ISAs for low fees
As most investors know, the one thing you do have control over when it comes to investing is the amount you spend in fees. Future investment returns are anyone’s guess, but you can reduce the impact of fees eating into your returns by simply choosing a product with low charges.
The cheapest Junior ISA will depend on how you want to use it: how much money are you planning to pay in? Do you want to buy funds or shares, and how often do you want to trade them?
To give a flavour of how the costs stack up, we asked Justin Modray, founder of Candid Money and Compare Fund Platforms, to crunch the numbers for a £5,000 Junior ISA containing five funds. Here’s how the annual costs compare for the five cheapest Junior ISAs (excluding fees for the underlying funds):
No Junior ISA annual platform fee
Charles Stanley Direct
0.35% annual platform fee, no fund dealing fees. £10 charge per investment to transfer out “in-specie” elsewhere
0.25% annual platform charge, £1.50 per fund deal
0.40% annual platform charge, no fund dealing fees. Annual platform fee falls to 0.20% if using a “ready-made portfolio”
0.40% annual platform charge, no fund dealing fees
Fidelity is the cheapest, with zero platform fees levied (you will need to pay fees on the underlying investments, as you would with most providers).
Modray comments: “Now that Fidelity has scrapped its annual platform charge for Junior ISAs and allows transfer in, it’s more or less a no-brainer [to choose this one] if you wish to invest in funds. Shares are also available with a £10 dealing fee.”
He adds that AJ Bell has a competitive platform fee (0.25%), although the £1.50 fund dealing fee may deter more active investors.
According to Modray, the key for parents when choosing a Junior ISA platform is low platform charges along with decent investment choice. It’s also worth checking there are no fees to move the account elsewhere in future, for example Charles Stanley Direct charges £10 per investment to transfer the ISA “as is” (compared to liquidating the investments and transferring the ISA as cash).
Award-winning Junior ISAs
While fees are important, you also need to be comfortable with other aspects, such as customer service, and ease of use for parents or friends and family who may not be expert investors.
Bear in mind that, while a parent or guardian must open the Junior ISA, anyone can pay money into it – just make sure you don’t breach the £9,000 annual allowance.
We looked at Boring Money’s Junior ISA Best Buys, which highlight the best stocks and shares Junior ISAs for non-expert people saving for kids. There are six winners for 2022:
- AJ Bell
AJ Bell and Fidelity are two of the cheapest platforms (as mentioned previously); Vanguard is also low cost (a potential downside is it only offers funds, not shares).
Nutmeg was commended by Boring Money for being “easy to use, offering pre-packaged investments, and the most established ‘robo’ adviser’.”
Wealthify lets you open an account with £1. It was commended for being “really easy to use” with a “great website and design”. It’s a good option for those who only have a small amount to invest to begin with.
Like Nutmeg, you don’t pick and choose your own funds and shares. Instead, Wealthify creates a portfolio of funds for you, depending on your attitude toward risk and if you want to invest ethically.
New Junior ISA provider: Nosso
Nosso is one of the newest Junior ISAs, launching in March 2022. It’s an app-based Junior ISA, and so far has more than 3,000 users.
It’s already scooped a Best Buy award from Boring Money, which liked the sustainability focus, the “slick app” and the fact it was easy to personalise.
Nosso offers a range of funds managed by BlackRock and Vanguard. The core investment option has a strong ESG (environmental, social and governance) focus, and there are other more specific portfolios ranging from “Water World” (focused on companies helping improve access to clean water for all) to “Health Heroes” (investing in the medicines of tomorrow).
There’s a 0.5% platform fee, plus fund manager fees of between 0.2% and 0.29%. The costs are clearly higher than those offered by the big low-cost platforms such as Fidelity and AJ Bell, but with Nosso you do get quite a different experience.
The app allows people who contribute to the Junior ISA to share a personal message and digital gift card, such as a birthday card with a photo on it. You can even “gift” some money to a Junior ISA that isn’t set up yet – a useful nudge to the parents to activate the account and start saving for their child's future.
A few Junior ISA rules
If you’ve set up a Junior ISA and want to switch to a competitor – perhaps to reduce the fees, or get a better user experience or investment range – go for it!
Parents are allowed to move the Junior ISA to a different provider, just watch out for any exit fees (there could be a charge to transfer a stocks and shares account “in-specie”, in which case consider converting to cash first).
You can also move a child trust fund into a Junior ISA, which could significantly cut your fees and increase your investment choice, as CTFs are now considered old, legacy products.
As mentioned, the annual allowance is £9,000, and you can split this across a cash Junior ISA and stocks and shares Junior ISA. So, you could contribute £2,000 to a cash Junior ISA, while up to £7,000 is paid into a stocks and shares account.
Bear in mind that a child can only hold one cash Junior ISA and one stocks and shares Junior ISA.
The £9,000 limit is on top of the £20,000 allowance that adults have for their ISAs.
The cash inside the Junior ISA belongs to the child and cannot be withdrawn until they turn 18, although teenagers can take control of the account from age 16.