A flood of new investors over the last 18 months has allowed us to analyse how people get started and which services they gravitate towards. The media narrative suggests cryptocurrencies and hot stocks have sparked an investing frenzy among young people, but it’s actually more broadly based.

All online investing services have done well and, while some first-time investors are quite young, they’re not all penniless students. House, honeymoon and pram often come before an investment nest egg, which means that first time investors are often in a decent income bracket.

For people starting an investing journey, what’s the experience of investing across the major investment services? We have looked at this in detail in our latest report UK D2C: Investor Experience published this week.

We find that the established direct platforms tend to be the most accomplished services. They offer comprehensive content and guidance, as well as impressive customer service. Hargreaves Lansdown is top of the 2021 Platforum User Experience Leaderboard followed by AJ Bell Youinvest.

Wealthify is the newer brand that performs best, in third place. PensionBee and Vanguard Investor also offer some good features.

We find that the ‘neo-brokers’ like Freetrade and Revolut don’t reach the standards of the more established services but take a different approach. Setting up an account is genuinely quick and easy – all done online – and fractional share trading makes it possible to build a portfolio of shares in companies like Apple and Tesla with a tiny amount of capital. Everything is done though a mobile app making the whole package truly accessible. But customer service is typically weaker than the established platforms and the guidance and educational content is more limited.

The top services are well ahead of their younger competitors. However, there are some new tricks that the old dogs might want to have a look at.

We have just published our UK D2C: Investor Experience report, looking at the experience of self-directed investors in 2021 from different aspects, such as content, user experience and account management, customer service and the mobile proposition. This is presented as the Platforum Investor Experience Leaderboard 2021.