AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown – Which Platform Is Better For You?

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At Generation Money our purpose is to help you make better financial decisions. All of our articles are independently written and/or edited by finance professionals and adhere to strict editorial guidelines. This post may contain links which, if clicked, could result in a payment to the site. These links never impact our editorial policy and all rankings and product recommendations remain unbiased. For more details, read how this site is financed.

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AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown

For this comparison review, I’ll be looking at AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown, two of the UK’s best-known investment platforms.

I’ll be comparing AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown against a number of metrics to see which comes out on top. This includes funds and portfolios, ethical offerings, products and, of course, fees.

Expensive fees can massively eat into your returns over time. So, as an experienced investor and a Chartered Accountant I know all about the importance of balancing costs against returns!

Read on for my full AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown comparison, or use the links below to jump straight to a particular section.

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AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: At A Glance

Here’s my overview of AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown in case you don’t want to read the whole comparison. 

The table below looks at the key features compared against each other.

AJ BellHargreaves Lansdown
Management Fees / Platform ChargesHolding unit trusts, OEICs and structured products:

Up to £250,000: 0.25%
£250,000 – £1m: 0.10%
£1m – £2m: 0.05%
£2m+: 0%

Holding shares, ETFs, gilts and bonds:

0.25%, capped at £42 per year, or £120 per year for SIPP

See Fees section below for more, inc. dealing fees
Holding funds:

Up to £250,000: 0.45%
£250,000 – £1m: 0.25%
£1m – £2m: 0.10%
£2m+: 0%

Holding shares:

Fund & Share Account: no charge
Stocks & Shares ISA: 0.45% (capped at £45)

SIPP: 0.45% (capped at £200)

See Fees section below for more, inc. dealing fees
Fund Fees0.02%-3.48%0.04%-1.44%
Minimum Investment£1 or £25 per month£1 to open Fund & Share Account (GIA), £100 minimum investment for funds

£100 for ISA & SIPP, unless regularly depositing £25+ per month
ProductsStocks & Shares: ISA, JISA, LISA

Dealing Account / GIA

SIPP (Pension), Junior SIPP

Cash Savings
Stocks & Shares: ISA, JISA, LISA

Fund & Share Account / GIA

SIPP (Pension), Junior SIPP

Cash ISA, Active Savings

Personal Financial Advice

Foreign Currency Exchange
Ready-Made Portfolios44
Ethical Portfolios / Funds1 AJ Bell ESG fund

Access to ESG ETFs
Access to ESG ETFs
Other Portfolios / FundsAJ Bell Funds & AJ Bell Favourite Funds

Investment Trust Select List
HL Select & Wealth Shortlist
DIY PortfolioYesYes
Share DealingYesYes
FSCS ProtectionYes (except funds outside the UK)Yes (except funds outside the UK)
Trustpilot Rating4.74.2

Both Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell are comprehensive investing platforms with each offering thousands of shares, funds and bonds to invest in. Neither, however, offer direct leveraged trading such as through CFDs – although AJ Bell does offer leveraged funds.

On cost, Hargreaves Lansdown is the slightly more expensive option for most investments and account types. The exception is if you want to hold shares in a Fund & Share / Dealing account, in which case you will not pay a platform charge with Hargreaves Lansdown, whereas you would with AJ Bell. You’ll pay dealing fees with both, though.

However, Hargreaves Lansdown offers a wider range of products and services, making it the more well-rounded platform. This includes a Cash ISA and personal financial advice – neither of which AJ Bell currently offers. 

Each platform offers 4 ready-made portfolios to invest in, in their attempts to compete with robo-advisors. But AJ Bell offers an Income portfolio as one of its options, which is something not many other providers currently offer. 

In fact, InvestEngine was one of the few other investment platforms which did offer an income portfolio and they recently closed theirs to new customers. So if you’re interested in investing for income, you may want to consider AJ Bell.

But, for ready-made portfolios both Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell are more expensive than the main robo-advisors when combining fund and management fees. Moneyfarm, Nutmeg, Wealthify and especially InvestEngine are all cheaper options for ready-made portfolios.

However, with AJ Bell’s ready-made portfolios you are only given an initial portfolio allocation. It is not maintained by AJ Bell so it is up to you to rebalance it over time, which is in stark contrast to other providers’ ready-made portfolios, where they are actively managed for you.

Overall, Hargreaves Lansdown is the better option for you compared to AJ Bell if you want to invest in ready-made portfolios, as they are actively managed by professionals. It’s also the better option if you want to open a Cash ISA or if you want regulated personal financial advice.

On the other hand, AJ Bell is generally the cheaper option compared to Hargreaves Lansdown. It also has a slightly higher rating on Trustpilot. 

For the lowest cost ETF and ready-made portfolios platform, you should consider InvestEngine. If you want to trade in leveraged products such as CFDs, you should consider Fineco Bank as an alternative to AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown. 

What is AJ Bell?

Founded over 25 years ago, AJ Bell is one of the leading investment platforms in the UK. It now has over 490,000 customers and more than £76 billion in assets under administration, and offers a wide range of investment products and services.

It’s also a platform used by many Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) and wealth management companies to manage clients’ investments.

It recently launched an investment app called Dodl in an effort to appeal to younger investors. 

What is Hargreaves Lansdown?

Established in 1981, Hargreaves Lansdown is one of the largest retail investment platforms in the UK. 

It styles itself as the UK’s No.1 investment platform for private investors, and has over 1.6 million investors managing £135.5 billion in investments.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Fees

Let’s look in more detail at the all-important costs for AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown.

Both platforms have a tiered fee structure based on how much you have invested and the type of assets you invest in:

AJ BellHargreaves Lansdown
Platform FeesHolding unit trusts, OEICs and structured products:
Up to £250,000: 0.25%
£250,000 – £1m: 0.10%
£1m – £2m: 0.05%
£2m+: 0%

Holding shares, ETFs, gilts and bonds:
0.25%, capped at £42 per year, or £120 per year for SIPP
Holding funds:
Up to £250,000: 0.45%
£250,000 – £1m: 0.25%
£1m – £2m: 0.10%
£2m+: 0%

Holding shares:
Fund & Share Account: no charge
Stocks & Shares ISA: 0.45% (capped at £45)

SIPP: 0.45% (capped at £200)
Actively Managed Portfolio Management Fees0.61%-0.85%
Platform fees above apply on top
0.92%-0.99% 
Platform fees above apply on top
Fund Fees0.02%-3.48%0.04%-1.44%
Ethical / Socially Responsible Fund Fees0.05%-1.50%0.04%-1.44%
Individual Stocks & Shares / Share DealingFunds: £1.50 per transaction

Shares: £9.95 per transaction or £4.95 if 10+ transactions made in prior month
FX charge also applies on overseas shares
Fee based on number of deals in prior month:
0 – 9: £11.95
10 – 20: £8.95
20+: £5.95
FX charge also applies on overseas shares
Regulated Financial AdviceN/AInvestment advice: 
Up to £1m: 1%
£1m+: 0%

Financial Planning:
Up to £200k: 2%
£200k – 1m+: 1%
Over £1m: 0%

Both subject to min. charge of £495 for advice over the phone, £1,495 for in-person. VAT in addition

AJ Bell is cheaper than Hargreaves Lansdown in most investment scenarios. Its share/fund dealing charges are lower and its platform charges for ISAs and SIPPs are also lower. 

However, the exception is if you want to hold shares in a Fund & Share account. With Hargreaves Lansdown, this does not involve any platform fees – you simply need to pay dealing fees each time you transact. AJ Bell, however, charges a 0.25% annual fee.

For ready-made portfolios, all 4 of AJ Bell’s are cheaper than Hargreaves Lansdown’s. But, you must rebalance and manage your ready-made portfolio yourself with AJ Bell, meaning it is not a hands-off way of investing. 

All of Hargreaves Lansdown’s ready-made portfolios are actively managed by professional fund managers. You do not need to rebalance your portfolio yourself, so if you prefer a hands-off investment, you may want to go with Hargreaves Lansdown despite the slightly higher portfolio fees.

For the lowest-cost fund investing, you should consider InvestEngine which is an investment platform that allows you to invest in over 550 ETFs. You can also invest in ready-made portfolios, and they are all cheaper than both Hargreaves Lansdown’s and AJ Bells.

However, InvestEngine only offers ETFs so you cannot invest in unit trusts or other types of funds like you can with AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Products & Accounts

Both AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown offer a huge range of products and investment options. Each provider offers over 3,000 shares, funds, bonds, investment trusts and ETFs to invest in. Both platforms are good options to consider for experienced investors.

However, Hargreaves Lansdown offers a slightly better range of accounts by also providing a cash ISA, which AJ Bell does not. Both platforms offer Stocks & Shares ISA, JISA and LISA, as well as a Fund & Share/Dealing Account (General Investment Account, or GIA). Furthermore, you can open a SIPP (Pension), Junior SIPP and Savings accounts.

On top of this, with Hargreaves Lansdown you can also purchase Personal Financial Advice if you want a professional to guide you through your investment and financial planning options. Hargreaves Lansdown also offers an FX service. Neither of these are available with AJ Bell.

Overall, there are more products and services on offer with Hargreaves Lansdown vs AJ Bell.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Portfolios & Funds

Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell both offer 4 ready-made portfolios to invest in. Each of Hargreaves Lansdown’s are based on risk appetite: Adventurous, Moderately Adventurous, Balanced and Cautious. 

Of AJ Bell’s portfolios, 3 are based on risk and the other is an income portfolio. Hargreaves Lansdown does not offer an income portfolio, and nor do many investment platforms so you may prefer AJ Bell if you’re seeking income investments. The 3 risk based portfolios are Cautious, Balanced and Adventurous.

Each of AJ Bell’s ready-made portfolios have lower charges than Hargreaves Lansdown’s, but with AJ Bell it is up to you to manage your investments after the initial portfolio is set up. By contrast, virtually all other ready-made portfolios with other investment platforms are actively managed.

So, although Hargreaves Lansdown’s ready-made portfolios are more expensive, you may still prefer them due to the fact that they are totally hands-free. They are managed by professional fund managers who periodically rebalance them as the market changes.

Aside from ready-made portfolios, both providers offer their own shortlists of funds that they’ve chosen based on various criteria. Hargreaves Lansdown offers its Wealth Shortlist, which is a list of funds picked by Hargreaves Lansdown based on various criteria, which you can choose to invest in. 

AJ Bell has its own versions with its Favourites List and Investment Trust Select list. Its ready-made portfolios are constructed from its Favourites List funds. 

In addition, Hargreaves Lansdown provides its HL Select portfolios which are also managed by Hargreaves Lansdown fund managers. These are actively managed funds. 

Both platforms offer a huge range of funds, including ETFs, to choose from to construct your own portfolio of investments. The familiar funds from the likes of Vanguard, Blackrock and iShares are available through both platforms.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Ethical Funds & Portfolios

Investors increasingly want to know which companies and industries their money is going into to ensure that they align with their values. As a result, investment platforms often now offer a range of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) options.

AJ Bell offers its own Responsible Growth Fund, which is a fund constructed of companies and investments with a strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) focus. It mainly consists of ETFs, but also invests in bonds. 

By contrast, Hargreaves Lansdown doesn’t offer any ready-made SRI/ESG portfolios. However, it operates what it calls a “responsible investment” strategy over the funds it manages and picks. 

In addition, both platforms offer ESG funds as part of their huge range of funds to invest in, with ESG funds created by the likes of L&G, Blackrock and Vanguard. This allows you to build your own ethical portfolio.

However, unlike robo-advisors such as Moneyfarm and Nutmeg, neither AJ Bell or Hargreaves Lansdown offer an ethical or ESG option for their ready-made portfolios. So your options for hands-off ESG friendly investing are limited with both providers.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Performance

Hargreaves Lansdown’s ready-made portfolios only launched in March-23 so they don’t have historical performance to compare against so far. To get a sense of the past returns with other funds available at Hargreaves Lansdown, you can view their investor factsheets and research on their website.

Similarly, AJ Bell does not have actual historical performance for its ready-made portfolios. However, it does provide simulated historical performance of its portfolios, but there are limitations to this as the current makeup of their portfolios wouldn’t necessarily have been the same in past years.

As with Hargreaves Lansdown, all of the funds listed with AJ Bell have their historical performance available to view online and through the app.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Research, Tools and Advice

Both AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown offer a range of tools, research and guides on their websites. An experienced, or confident investor, will probably make use of the tools on offer, which are more comprehensive than those seen with robo-advisors. 

Beginner investors are also well-served with both platforms providing a range of guides and explainers for those with less investing experience.

Hargreaves Lansdown has a free investing guide which you can download here:

However, both lack the detailed tools and analysis that you can get with other trading and investment platforms. If you’re a seasoned investor, then you may prefer more sophisticated tools available with other providers, such as Fineco Bank.

With Hargreaves Lansdown you can also buy personal financial advice from a regulated professional. If you have a more complex financial situation, or simply want the advice of a professional, this could be a good option for you. AJ Bell does not offer financial advice.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Which Has The Better App?

Each provider has an app alongside their online platform. Both apps allow you to see your investments and portfolios, as well as fund your account. Market news and updates are also regularly provided in-app with each provider. 

Overall, I view Hargreaves Lansdown’s as slightly better simply because it’s easier to navigate and access the research and tools available. 

However, AJ Bell has launched an app-only investment service called Dodl, aimed at younger and less experienced investors. It’s essentially a stripped-down version of AJ Bell’s full investment offering. 

Dodl’s investment offering focuses on AJ Bell’s own funds, themed funds and around 80 shares to invest in. Clearly, this is a much reduced offering from the thousands of assets available to invest in through AJ Bell. 

That being said, less experienced investors may prefer the streamlined offering provided by Dodl. It’s designed to compete with newer investment apps such as Lightyear and Plum, typically aimed at younger investors. 

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Is My Money Safe?

Both AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and have Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection.

This means that if either company were to go bust, your money would be protected up to the value of £85,000 by the regulator. 

It should be noted that some of the funds offered by both AJ Bell and with Hargreaves Lansdown are located outside of the UK and therefore are not covered by FSCS protection. This information is made clear in the Key Investor Information Document available online with both platforms.

The savings accounts offered by AJ Bell are held with a range of different banks. Both Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell segregate client money from their own using custodian accounts held with secure 3rd parties. These also fall under FSCS protection.

Both platforms are well-established and have decades of experience of managing investments and client assets. Overall, when comparing safety between Hargreaves Lansdown vs AJ Bell, they are evenly matched.

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Pros & Cons

To summarise my comparison of AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown, I’ve outlined below what I believe are the main pros and cons of each investment platform.

AJ Bell Pros & Cons

AJ Bell Pros

  • Very low initial investment – get started from just £1 upfront or £25 per month
  • 3 risk-based ready-made portfolios suitable for beginner investors
  • 1 ready-made income focused portfolio, unlike Hargreaves Lansdown which does not currently offer an income portfolio
  • Thousands of investments to choose from across funds, shares and bonds
  • Cheaper than Hargreaves Lansdown for both dealing fees and platform charges
  • Wide range of products to choose from, including the main ISA and SIPP accounts
  • Customisable portfolios
  • Cash savings hub, bringing together savings accounts from a range of providers
  • Log in to your account online and through the app
  • Separate Dodl app aimed at younger and less experienced investors

AJ Bell Cons

  • Must managed your own ‘ready-made’ portfolio after the initial allocation and setup, unlike with most other providers of ready-made portfolios, including Hargreaves Lansdown
  • Only 1 in-house ethical fund to choose from – AJ Bell’s Responsible Growth Fund
  • No Cash ISA
  • Does not offer regulated financial advice

Hargreaves Lansdown Pros & Cons

Hargreaves Lansdown Pros

  • Massive range of funds to invest in, great for confident investors
  • Huge range of stocks and shares to trade
  • Caters to wide range of users with an extensive mix of ready-made, actively managed and passive portfolios
  • Extensive investment research and useful tools, good for experienced investors
  • Offers regulated personal financial advice, good for those seeking guidance with their investments
  • Foreign exchange services available
  • Active Savings account brings together the best savings rates from a range of providers
  • Log in to your account online and through the app
  • Offers slightly more products than AJ Bell, including a Cash ISA

Hargreaves Lansdown Cons

  • Higher fund costs for its ready-made portfolios vs AJ Bell’s
  • Higher platform and dealing charges compared to AJ Bell
  • Higher minimum investment for its ready-made portfolios and its SIPP (£100)

AJ Bell vs Hargreaves Lansdown: Final Verdict

Both AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown are good choices for more experienced investors, and those who want to pick their own investments. This is because they have a huge range of funds, bonds, ETFs and shares to invest in. 

If you want to hold shares in a non-ISA account, then Hargreaves Lansdown is cheaper as it does not charge platform fees. However, for most other investments AJ Bell works out cheaper. 

If you want guidance from a professional, then you’ll also prefer Hargreaves Lansdown as it offers regulated financial advice. 

Hargreaves Lansdown also has a slightly wider range of account options, including a Cash ISA which is not available with AJ Bell.

On the other hand, AJ Bell’s investment app Dodl is a good option for younger and less experienced investors. It offers a pared-down version of AJ Bell’s offering, which is a good starter platform. 

For the lowest-cost method of investing in ETFs, though, you should consider InvestEngine.

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