AJ Bell Dodl Review – Is It The Best Investment App 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 Dodl

This is our independent AJ Bell Dodl review. 

Dodl is an app-only investment offering from AJ Bell, who are one of the leading investment platforms in the UK. 

Aimed at less experienced and younger investors, Dodl seeks to offer simple investment choices with easy-to-understand pricing. 

In this Dodl review we cover how it works, how much it costs, which products Dodl offers and its main pros and cons.

Click the links below to skip ahead to a particular section or read on for our full Dodl review.

Dodl Review: Key Features

  • App-only, easy-to-use and jargon-free investment platform
  • Account options include a Stocks & Shares ISA, Lifetime ISA, General Investment Account (GIA) and Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) 
  • 7 ready-made AJ Bell funds, 27 themed funds and 80 shares to invest in
  • Simple 0.15% annual account fee (min. £1 per month) with no dealing charges
  • Owned by AJ Bell
  • FCA regulated and FSCS protection

Dodl Review: What Is Dodl?

Dodl is an app-only investment platform by AJ Bell. It aims to simplify investing and is targeted at beginner investors. 

Rather than focusing just on ready-made portfolios like many other investment platforms targeted at beginners, Dodl offers 3 main ways to invest. There are 7 ready-made AJ Bell funds, 27 themed funds and 80 individual shares to choose from. 

It has a simple annual management fee of 0.15% per account, subject to a minimum of £1 per month. Dodl also does not charge any dealing fees – the only transaction fee is an FX charge on buying and selling US shares. Any investments you choose may have their own underlying charges.

Dodl Review: How Does Dodl Work?

To use Dodl you’ll first have to download the app. Then you can go through the sign up process outlined below. You must be a UK citizen to open an account with Dodl. Here’s how we went through the sign up process in the Dodl app:

AJ Bell Dodl's first page of the app sign up process

Dodl’s sign up process is simple:

  1. Download the app and set up your profile
  2. Open a Dodl account, choosing either a GIA, ISA, LISA or SIPP
  3. Fund your account
  4. Start investing
Dodl's sign up process

The range of accounts offered by Dodl is strong, particularly as it provides a LISA which is sometimes lacking in other investment platforms.

Dodl account types in the app

At the moment it doesn’t provide a Junior ISA, perhaps because its target audience is on the younger side and is less likely to have children yet. For more on JISAs, read our guide to the best Junior stocks and shares ISA

Once you’ve signed up, chosen an account to open and funded it you can then start investing. Dodl’s app is very user friendly in our experience of using it. Browsing investments is straightforward and the app has useful filtering options by geography and theme, which beginner investors will like. You can see more of us using the app below under our What Can You Invest In With Dodl? section.

Given its relatively small range of investments there’s no need to complicate things, and it’s good to see that Dodl has kept it simple in the app. As there are no dealing fees, you can buy and sell investment whenever you like without incurring charges. 

Note that all orders will be executed by Dodl at 3pm each day. This means that if you create an order to purchase a UK share at 10am, it won’t be executed by Dodl until 3pm so there’s a risk that the price will have changed by that time.

Having a daily order execution time is common among fund investing platforms – InvestEngine does it, too – but it’s less common to see on an app that allows you to invest in individual shares. You should bear this in mind, particularly if you’re buying or selling individual shares, and watch out for periods of high market volatility where prices can change rapidly.

Dodl Minimum Investment

Dodl’s minimum investment is £100 when you first open an account, or you can set up a direct debit of at least £25 per month. It’s free to transfer in an existing account, such as an ISA or SIPP from another provider. 

Dodl Review: What Can You Invest In With Dodl?

There are 3 categories of investment options with Dodl: Funds, Themed Investments and Shares. You can choose any of these to put together your own investment portfolio, making Dodl one of the more flexible ways of building a portfolio. 

Many other investment apps will only give you the choice of ready-made portfolios or funds but not individual shares. Robo-advisors, for example, tend to only offer ready-made portfolios so you cannot pick your own investments. This makes Dodl a great platform for beginner investors who would like the flexibility of picking their own investments as well as investing in passive funds.

Below we outline each investment category.

Funds

Dodl offers 7 ready-made funds which are created and managed by AJ Bell, its parent company. These are arranged by risk-level, and are:

  • Cautious (lowest risk)
  • Moderately Cautious
  • Balanced
  • Moderately Adventurous
  • Adventurous
  • Global Growth (highest risk)
  • Responsible Growth (‘ethical’ fund)

Simply pick which level of risk you prefer and you can invest your money into one of these funds. Or choose the Responsible Growth fund – an ‘ethical’ or ESG fund – which seeks to invest in companies that take their “commitment to people and planet seriously”.

Dodl's ready-made funds by AJ Bell

With 6 risk-based funds and 1 ethical fund, Dodl provides a good range for beginners. It mirrors the core offering of most robo-advisors in this regard. A key difference vs robo-advisors is that with Dodl you must pick which fund to invest in yourself – you’re not guided by a robo-advisor questionnaire. Read our guide to the best robo-advisors in the UK for more on them.

Themed Investments

Dodl offers 29 Themed Investments to choose from which are made up of a mix of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and managed funds. You can see the ongoing fund charge of each fund before you invest. This is the cost charged by the fund manager and is independent of Dodl.

These funds are sorted into 5 categories:

Around the world

This category is made up of ETFs which track the largest companies within a given country or region. For example you can invest in a passive index fund which tracks the UK’s FTSE100.

ETFs are a low-cost way of getting exposure to a specific market without having to individually invest in the companies or bonds that it contains. 

There 10 ‘around the world’ funds and they cover some of the most popular index funds to invest in. These are good options for beginners and you can pick which you’d like to invest in. Many of the funds here form part of robo-advisors managed portfolios so you can save yourself the higher fees robo-advisors charge by building your own portfolio of index funds.

Dodl's themed investments showing Around the world

Sectors

The funds in this category give you exposure to a specific sector such as Healthcare, Robotics & Automation and BigTech. If you’d like to invest your money into a particular sector then these are great starting points. 

Bonds

There are 5 bond funds that you can invest in. Unsurprisingly, these funds invest in bonds which are the debt of either large companies or governments. Bonds typically offer diversification and lower volatility as part of a portfolio, as well as providing income through coupon payments. 

All-in-one

Dodl offers 3 of Vanguard’s popular LifeStrategy funds in its all-in-one range. These are the 40%, 60% and 80% funds with the [percentage representing the amount allocated to equity. 

Vanguard’s LifeStrategy funds are mixed-asset funds (they invest in both bonds and shares) and are actively managed by Vanguard’s team of professional investment managers.

Responsible

Currently Dodl offers 2 ‘Responsible’ funds. These funds aim to invest in companies that have some sort of sustainability or environmental commitment as part of their business strategy. 

It would be nice to see the range of Responsible funds available increase, particularly as this is an investment category that younger investors are increasingly keen on. 

For more on ethical investing, read our guide to the best ethical Stocks and Shares ISA.

Shares

There are 80 shares to choose from on Dodl’s platform. These include some big names from the UK and the US, such as Tesco and Berkshire Hathaway, but it’s a much smaller range than Dodl’s rivals. 

Plum for example offers thousands of stocks and shares to invest in, as well as funds. However, Dodl is still a relatively new platform and with its backing from AJ Bell it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more stocks added over time.

For a diversified mix of funds, ETFs and individual shares all in one platform, though, Dodl is a great option, especially combined with its low cost.

Dodl Review: Dodl Fees & Charges Explained

Dodl has a very straightforward pricing structure. It charges a 0.15% annual platform fee on the value of your investments, per account. This is subject to a minimum of £1 per month.

Because of the £1 per month minimum, you will need to invest £8,000 or more to achieve the 0.15% annual fee. Amounts below £8,000 will be charged £1 per month, meaning that the effective rate will be higher than 0.15%.

For example, £4,000 will be charged at £1 per month or £12 per year. This works out to an annual charge of 0.30%. However, 0.30% still beats many robo-advisors. Here’s how Dodl compares to some of its competitors:

Investment PlatformAnnual platform / management feeMonthly subscriptionMinimum investment
Dodl0.15% (min. £1 per month)None£100 or £25 per month
eToroNoneNone$10
InvestEngineFree for DIY investing
0.25% for Managed Portfolios
None£100
Moneybox0.45%£1 per month£1
Moneyfarm0.35%-0.75%None£500
Nutmeg0.35%-0.75%None£500 For ISA, GIA & SIPP
£100 for JISA & LISA
Plum0.15%-0.45% for funds
No charge for holding shares
£2.99-£9.99 per month
No charge for Plum Basic, can invest in shares only
£1
Vanguard0.15% (max. £375 per year)None£500 or £100 per month

As shown above, Dodl’s fees are highly competitive and beat many of the other app-only platforms including Plum (if investing in funds) and Moneybox. It also easily beats the main robo-advisors, and even works out cheaper than AJ Bell.

However, as Vanguard applies a cap on fees of £375 per year, this means that for £250,000 or more of investment, it’s cheaper than Dodl. On the flip side, Vanguard only offers its own funds to invest in whereas Dodl offers funds from a range of providers as well as individual shares.

If you build your own portfolio by picking which ETFs to invest in, then InvestEngine is currently completely free. It also has a managed portfolio option which has a management fee of 0.25%. However, you can only invest in ETFs with InvestEngine – it does not offer shares and managed funds like Dodl does.

It’s important to note that Dodl’s annual fee and £1 per month minimum applies separately to each account you hold with them. 

For example, holding £4,000 in an ISA and £4,000 in a LISA would still require you to pay £12 per year for each account. This means that you’d be paying £24 per year on a total of £8,000 in two different accounts, which works out to 0.30% despite having invested £8,000 in total with Dodl.

US Shares Charges

Dodl offers a range of US shares to invest in, including well-known companies such as Amazon and JP Morgan. You will pay an FX fee whenever you buy or sell US shares. The fee depends on the size of the order:

  • Up to £10,000: 0.75%
  • £10,000-£20,000: 0.50%
  • Over £20,000: 0.25%

FX fees on shares which are not denominated in GBP are common in the retail investment industry – many of the ‘commission-free’ brokers still charge FX fees. Dodl’s FX fees are competitive above £10,000 but are a little pricey at 0.75% for under £10,000. 

Dodl Review: Customer Service & Reviews

You can contact Dodl’s customer service either by email via [email protected] or via in-app chat. Most users will probably prefer to use the in-app chat as you can connect directly to a customer support representative and live chat with them. 

As Dodl focuses on beginner investors, and probably at the younger end of the market, it’s not unusual to see app and email support only, rather than a phone number. However, those who would prefer speaking to someone over the phone will be disappointed as this is not an option. 

AJ Bell Dodl help section in the Dodl app

Aside from speaking to Dodl’s team, it has a comprehensive help section on its website and in the app. This aims to answer frequently asked questions and guide you on how to complete transactions and use your account.

Dodl Customer Reviews

On Apple’s App Store Dodl has a 4.6 rating and a rating of 4.4 on Trustpilot, which is classed as ‘Excellent’.

Many positive reviewers praise the simplicity of Dodl, commenting on how easy it is to get started investing. Others like the range of account options, including a LISA which is not offered by all major platforms, and the ability to easily transfer in from another provider. 

On the other hand, some users have complained about Dodl’s order execution, as we outlined above in this Dodl review. Rather than an instant order execution, Dodl carries out all customer orders at 3pm each day. This means the price you pay may differ from the order price if you make the order earlier in the day, or miss that day’s 3pm cut off. 

A single order execution time each day is not uncommon among platforms that allow you to invest in funds – InvestEngine for example executes all orders at 2pm each day. But it is unusual when it comes to buying and selling individual shares and this is something to be mindful of. 

Dodl Review: Is Dodl Safe?

Dodl is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and has Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection. This means that in the event of Dodl going bust, your money would be protected by the regulator up to £85,000 per person.

As an FCA-regulated firm, you are able to appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) in the event that you cannot resolve a dispute directly with Dodl. The FOS’ decisions are impartial and binding. 

Aside from regulatory protection, Dodl is owned by AJ Bell which is one of the largest investment platforms in the UK. AJ Bell has over £76bn in Assets Under Administration (AUA) and has over 25 years experience in the industry. 

Given its backing from one of the largest players in the industry, it’s likely that Dodl is here to stay and we may see more features and investment options added over time. 

Dodl Review: Pros & Cons

Below we summarise the main pros and cons after extensively testing and using Dodl for this Dodl review.

Dodl Pros

  • Ideal for beginner investors
  • Simple investment offering, making it easy to use and get started
  • Low pricing, especially compared to the bigger platforms
  • You can open a LISA which many other app-only investment platforms do not offer
  • Good mix of funds, ETFs and individual stocks and shares to invest in
  • FCA regulated and FSCS protection

Dodl Cons

  • Limited investment choice compared to bigger platforms, including parent company AJ Bell, but this may expand in future
  • £1 per month fee means that you must invest at least £8,000 to achieve an annual management fee of 0.15%
  • App-only so you must be happy not being able to log-in to a website

Dodl Review – Final Verdict

For beginner investors, Dodl is a strong choice. It offers funds, ETFs and shares all in one easy-to-use app, meaning it has a wider choice of investment options than many of its competitors, who tend to offer only funds or only shares.

On top of that, Dodl has a low platform fee of 0.15% per account which is highly competitive. This is subject to a minimum of £1 per month, though, which means anything below £8,000 will effectively be charged at a higher rate than 0.15%. 

For a lower cost way of building your own investment portfolio via ETFs, InvestEngine is a viable alternative. If you want a wider range of shares to invest in alongside funds in an app, then you should consider Plum – although it’s more expensive than Dodl. 

Overall, though, Dodl is a great platform for its combination of low pricing and range of investments which means it’s not easily beaten by its rivals.

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