How to pick a Sipp platform

Published by Tom Wilson on 07 October 2015.
Last updated on 19 January 2016

A tough choice awaits

If you want to open a Sipp you’ll probably want to do it through a fund supermarket, or platform, that gives you a broad range of investment options at a decent price. You may also want some guidance in choosing appropriate investments if you’re an inexperienced investor.

This guide explains the difference between providers, the questions you’ll want to think about when choosing a platform, and a roundup of some of the cheapest providers. 


Charges are one of the biggest drags on investment performance over the long term, if not the most significant, so it’s important to shop around for the best deal.

Fund supermarkets will typically charge an annual fee to manage your pension.  This could either be a fixed amount, or a percentage of your pension pot. If you have a larger pension you’ll pay less on a flat-fee structure.

The table, compiled by Steve Nelson at platform experts the lang cat, shows typical charges for a range of the biggest providers, assuming you buy and sell funds five times a year. Many providers charge each time you switch a fund, but some don’t.

We’ve not included fees charged by the funds you invest in, which vary but will be advertised on your chosen platform. Tracker funds, which are managed by computer programs and mimic the performance of an index such as the FTSE 100, are cheaper as they don’t require expensive fund managers. Actively managed funds (run by investment professionals) cost more but could outperform the market or offer exposure to more ‘exotic’ investments.

There are no fund fees for holding equities, but you’ll be charged transaction fees when you buy or sell, as well as stamp duty.

Bear in mind there could be additional platform charges for other services, like when you come to draw from your pension in retirement. Also watch out for exit fees, particularly if you’re holding equities, as these can be as much as £25 per share. Also note that iWeb has a one-off £200 joining fee, which just isn’t worth it for smaller portfolios.

 ISA table

Investment options

The right platform will not just be cost effective for your portfolio size. It’ll also offer suitable investment options, fund research and other tools to meet your needs.

All featured platforms offer funds, and if you’d like to try your hand at picking stocks those providers have been highlighted too. You may also wish to look for a platform that offers cheaper passive investments such as ETFs, or model portfolios that let you buy a basket of investments based on the level of risk you are willing to take.

“A lot of it depends on the nature of your investments and if you need help choosing funds or a proposition,” says Nelson. “If you want someone to hold your hand, Nutmeg or Retiready from Aegon would be good as they help you assess your risk profile.”


Each platform offers additional tools to help you review and manage your portfolio. For example, most, including Hargreaves Lansdown, offer portfolio analysis tools that show your asset allocation and performance against inflation or another benchmark.

The majority of fund supermarkets are mobile-optimised, so you can check your funds on the go. If you want to manage your portfolio through an app, it can be done but few currently stand out, according to the lang cat.

If you also have an Isa, it makes sense to find a provider that features in our Isa guide to avoid the pain of getting used to two platforms.

Investment Intelligence

If you’re looking to get into the nitty-gritty, the wealth of information offered by a powerhouse such as Trustnet could be useful but it’s likely to be overbearing for people starting out for the first time.

Once you’ve found a platform that meets your needs, check to see if there’s a dummy portfolio option. These let you get a feel for the platform before depositing real money.

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