The overall score is calculated as the sum of the individual section scores and then rebased to be out of 5.

Overall Score

Our View

Willis Owen has been around since 1982, and helped, according to its website, over 150,000 people invest since then. It’s a fairly simple service, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy the major types of investment, or put them in..

What accounts are available?

Almost top marks here for the Willis Owen guys – they offer all the main accounts like a Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) and an Individual Savings Account (ISA). For the SIPP they split out the account into two separate parts – one for when you’re building your pension pot and then another called the Income Drawdown SIPP for when you retire and you’re taking money out. Their ISA is better than many others because it’s ‘flexible’, meaning you can take money out and add it back again in the same tax year without it reducing your ISA allowance twice.

Junior ISA
Flexible ISA
We upweighted scores for providers who had the basic accounts available - ISA, SIPP and GIA.


What kind of investments can I make?

Willis Owen have a good range of available investments – not quite up there with the widest set, but not far off. The exceptions are shares in companies listed on the international stock exhanges outside London, and investments directly into bonds. Everything else (shares, funds, investment trusts and exchange traded funds) are all covered.

Investment Trusts
Exchange Traded Funds
UK Shares
International Shares
We upweighted scores for providers who made funds, investment trusts, exchange traded funds and UK shares available. Bonds and international shares were less important.


What services do they offer?

On paper there’s some big gaps in the service Willis Owen offer. For example, there’s no facility to have dividends from your investments automatically reinvested in more of the same. Also, you can’t set up an instruction for regular monthly investing. Both of these are important features and big omissions in our view. On the plus side, they do offer a pension consolidation service called OnePlan to help track down and group together your old pensions. There’s some handy tools and guides too, and a regular ‘Insights’ blog.

Monthly Investing
Dividend Reinvestment
Online Community
Buy Lists
Research Tools
Market News
Ready-made portfolios
Telephone support
App/Mobile Access
The most important services were monthly investing, and dividend reinvestment, so we upweighted scores for platforms who provided these services.


How much does it cost?

Charges for buying and selling shares are pretty good. No one can beat Freetrade’s ‘free’ but these are much less than some of the big players’ fees. If you see yourself doing lots of trading, then this could represent a big saving. However, for our imaginary £20,000 ISA the custody fee, or platform charges, are at the higher end. Not as dear as some, but by no means the cheapest.

Custody (Funds Only ISA at 20k)
Custody (Listed Investments Only ISA at 20k)
Buy/Sell Shares
Buy/Sell Funds
Buy/Sell Investment trusts
Buy/Sell Exchange traded funds
For custody we looked at the costs for an ISA with a value of £20,000 - either with just funds or just listed investments. Scores were highest if the annual charge was below £50, and lowest if they were over £100/year. For trading costs, the most points were awarded where a platform did not charge, and the least where the charge was over £10.