Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard – Which Is Best For Investing?

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The Generation Money Guarantee

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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For this comparison review, I’ll be looking at Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard, two of the leading fund investment platforms in the UK.

I’ll be comparing Vanguard 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 how important it is to balance costs against returns!

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

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Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: At A Glance

Here’s my overview of Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard if you’re short on time. 

What You Need To Know

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  • Hargreaves Lansdown is the more comprehensive investment platform compared to Vanguard, offering thousands of stocks, bonds and funds to invest in. Vanguard only allows you to invest in its own funds
  • Vanguard is better if you want to invest only in Vanguard funds, though, as its fees are lower than Hargreaves Lansdown’s
  • With Hargreaves Lansdown you also have access to a wider range of products, including a Stocks and Shares LISA, Junior SIPP and a Cash ISA – none of which are available with Vanguard
  • Both platforms offer robo-advisor style portfolios, or managed portfolios, but neither has enough history to assess performance as they’ve only recently launched them at the time of this review (March-23)
  • I’ve extensively used Hargreaves Lansdown over a number of years and, compared to Vanguard, its platform is more modern, easier to use and offers much more in the way of tools and research
  • However, for the cheapest method of ETF investing, including in Vanguard funds, InvestEngine beats both
  • Neither platform offers CFDs or other types of leveraged trading. You may want to consider Fineco Bank or Trading212 as alternatives if you want to trade with leverage

What You Need To Know

  • Hargreaves Lansdown is the more comprehensive investment platform compared to Vanguard, offering thousands of stocks, bonds and funds to invest in. Vanguard only allows you to invest in its own funds
  • Vanguard is better if you want to invest only in Vanguard funds, though, as its fees are lower than Hargreaves Lansdown’s
  • With Hargreaves Lansdown you also have access to a wider range of products, including a Stocks and Shares LISA, Junior SIPP and a Cash ISA – none of which are available with Vanguard
  • Both platforms offer robo-advisor style portfolios, or managed portfolios, but neither has enough history to assess performance as they’ve only recently launched them at the time of this review (March-23)
  • I’ve extensively used Hargreaves Lansdown over a number of years and, compared to Vanguard, its platform is more modern, easier to use and offers much more in the way of tools and research
  • However, for the cheapest method of ETF investing, including in Vanguard funds, InvestEngine beats both
  • Neither platform offers CFDs or other types of leveraged trading. You may want to consider Fineco Bank or Trading212 as alternatives if you want to trade with leverage

Those are the key points to consider. The table below looks at the main features compared against each other:

Hargreaves LansdownVanguard
Management Fees / Platform ChargesHolding 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
0.15% (capped at £375 per year for accounts over £250k)

0.60% for Managed ISA (includes 0.15% platform fee)
Fund Fees0.04%-1.44%0.20% average fund cost
Minimum Investment£1 to open Fund & Share Account (GIA), £100 minimum investment for funds

£100 for ISA & SIPP, unless regularly depositing £25+ per month
£500 or £100 per month
ProductsStocks & Shares: ISA, JISA, LISA

Fund & Share Account / GIA

SIPP (Pension), Junior SIPP

Cash ISA, Active Savings

Personal Financial Advice

Foreign Currency Exchange
Stocks & Shares: ISA, JISA

GIA

SIPP (Pension)
Ready-Made Portfolios45 Life Strategy Funds
11 Target Retirement Funds
5 Managed ISA portfolios
Ethical Portfolios/FundsAccess to ESG ETFs17 ESG funds
Other Portfolios/FundsHL Select & Wealth Shortlist87 (including 17 ESG funds)
DIY PortfolioYesYes
Share DealingYesNo
FSCS ProtectionYes (except funds outside the UK)Yes (except funds outside the UK)
Trustpilot reviews4.24.2

Read on for my full assessment of Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard.

What is Vanguard?

Vanguard was founded in the USA in 1975 and is known for creating the first index fund. An index fund is a passive investment vehicle which seeks to track the performance of a major index over time, rather than picking individual companies to invest in.

Index funds are now hugely popular and are often the lowest cost type of fund to invest in. Vanguard now has over 30 million investors worldwide, and offers 87 funds to UK investors to choose from on its platform.

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 £135.5bn in investments.

You can download Hargreaves Lansdown’s free investing guide here:

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Fees

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

Hargreaves Lansdown has a tiered fee structure based on how much you have invested and the type of assets you invest in. Vanguard has a simpler platform fee: 

Hargreaves LansdownVanguard
Platform FeesHolding 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)
0.15%

Capped at £375 for investments over £250k
Actively Managed Portfolio Management Fees0.92%-0.99% 

Platform fees above apply on top
0.60% Managed ISA fee made up of:
-Management fee: 0.30%
-Platform fee: 0.15%
-Fund fees: 0.15% 
Fund Fees0.04%-1.44%0.20% average
Ethical / Socially Responsible Fund Fees0.04%-1.44%0.11%-0.48%
Individual Stocks & Shares / Share DealingOnline dealing fee based on number of deals in prior month:
0 – 9: £11.95
10 – 20: £8.95
20+: £5.95

Phone dealing charges are higher with a £20 minimum fee

FX charge also applies on overseas shares
N/A
Regulated Financial AdviceInvestment 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
N/A

Vanguard is cheaper than Hargreaves Lansdown for holding funds with any investment amount. It charges a single percentage fee of 0.15% on your investments, capped at £375 for investments of over £250k.

For actively managed portfolios – Vanguard’s and Hargreaves Lansdown’s equivalent of a robo-adviser service – Vanguard is also lower cost. 

On the flip side, your choice of investments is much more limited with Vanguard. You can only invest in Vanguard’s own funds through Vanguard’s platform. With Hargreaves Lansdown you can invest in thousands of different funds from different providers. 

So, if you want more choice and the option to build a more diverse portfolio across different asset classes, Hargreaves Lansdown is the better option for you. 

Furthermore, if you want personal financial advice then you will also prefer Hargreaves Lansdown as Vanguard does not offer this service.

Another point to note is that you can hold shares in a Fund & Share account with Hargreaves Lansdown without any platform fees. The downside is that this is outside of a tax wrapper such as a Stocks & Shares ISA, so any gains will count towards potential capital gains tax. You’ll also need to pay dealing fees every time you buy or sell shares. 

If you want to invest only in ETFs, then you should consider InvestEngine which is a 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 Vanguard’s.

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

Hargreaves Lansdown – Switch Your Money On

ISAs, Pensions, Funds and Shares.

Thousands of stocks, bonds & funds to choose from with the UK’s largest platform for private investors.

ISAs, Pensions, Funds and Shares.
Thousands of stocks, bonds & funds to choose from with the UK’s largest platform for private investors.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Products & Accounts

Both Vanguard and Hargreaves Lansdown offer stocks and shares ISAs, General Investment Accounts (GIAs), Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) and Junior ISAs (JISAs).

However, Hargreaves Lansdown offers much more too. You can also open a Junior SIPP, Stocks & Shares LISA, a Cash ISA and Active Savings accounts.

Given Vanguard’s extensive investment history, it’s a little disappointing that it doesn’t offer a fuller set of ISA products. For a wider choice, Hargreaves Lansdown is the winner. 

In addition to offering more products, Hargreaves Lansdown also offers a huge range of investment options. It has over 3,000 shares, funds, bonds, investment trusts and ETFs to invest in, making it a great platform for a more experienced investor. 

It’s worth noting though that in my experience of using Hargreaves Lansdown, most bonds and GILTs, as well as some other assets, can only be invested in via the phone. This attracts a higher dealing fee, starting at £20 per transaction.

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. When I first used Vanguard’s platform in 2022 it did offer financial advice but no longer does. 

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

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Portfolios & Funds

Hargreaves Lansdown and Vanguard both allow you to invest in ready-made portfolios or to build your own investment portfolio.

Funds

The key difference in funds between Hargreaves Lansdown and Vanguard is that Vanguard only allows you to invest in its own funds, whereas Hargreaves Lansdown has thousands of funds to choose from. 

This is one of the most important distinctions to make in this Vanguard vs Hargreaves Lansdown comparison. To use Vanguard’s platform you must be comfortable with investing only in Vanguard funds.

Fortunately, Vanguard is one of the world’s largest fund managers, with tens of billions of pounds under management. Some of its funds are very popular, and you are able to invest in its well-known LifeStrategy and Target Retirement funds. 

Furthermore, aside from its LifeStrategy and Target Retirement funds, most of Vanguard’s funds are passive index funds which track major stock or commodity indexes. So with Vanguard your choice of actively managed funds is quite restricted. 

On the other hand, Hargreaves Lansdown provides thousands of funds to invest in from a range of fund managers, including over 80 of Vanguard’s funds. It’s the superior option if you would want the widest choice of funds to invest in. 

Portfolios

Vanguard offers 5 ready-made portfolios in its Managed ISA. Note that its managed portfolios are only available through an ISA so you cannot access them through a GIA. 

Each of its portfolios is constructed from Vanguard’s own funds, and vary based on risk level. Like with robo-advisors, you will need to complete a survey for Vanguard to assign you a portfolio based on your attitude towards risk. 

Similarly, Hargreaves Lansdown offers its own ready-made portfolios. Each of Hargreaves Lansdown’s are based on risk appetite: Adventurous, Moderately Adventurous, Balanced and Cautious. 

As mentioned under the Fees section, Hargreaves Lansdown’s managed portfolios are significantly more expensive than Vanguard. So while Hargreaves Lansdown’s portfolios potentially have a wider opportunity set to invest in, that comes at a greater cost.

The managed portfolio options with both platforms are managed by professional fund managers who periodically rebalance them as the market changes. 

Aside from ready-made portfolios, Hargreaves Lansdown has its own shortlists of fund that they’ve chosen based on various criteria called its Wealth Shortlist. In addition, there are HL Select portfolios which are managed by Hargreaves Lansdown fund managers. These are actively managed funds. 

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Ethical 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.

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

Although Vanguard doesn’t offer ready-made ethical portfolios, it has 17 of its own ESG funds which you can invest in. Therefore you can create your own portfolio of ESG funds, or customise a ready-made portfolio by substituting or adding ESG funds.

Similarly, despite not offering any ready-made SRI/ESG portfolios, Hargreaves Lansdown operates what it calls a “responsible investment” strategy over the funds it manages and picks. 

In addition, you’ll have access to ESG funds as part of Hargreaves Lansdown’s fund range. At the time of this review, when I searched in my HL account there were 33 ESG funds and 27 Ethical funds to choose from.

These were from a range of providers, including L&G, Blackrock and AXA, as well as 6 of Vanguard’s ESG funds. So although there are no ready-made ethical portfolios, you can build your own from a range of funds.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: 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.

Vanguard’s funds are mostly index tracker funds which would have seen performance in 2022 broadly in-line with the indexes that they track. For example, Vanguard’s S&P 500 tracker fund lost 18.4% in 2022, mirroring the fall seen in the index.

However, Vanguard’s LifeStrategy funds are actively managed. Taking their LifeStrategy 100% Equity fund as an example, it returned -6.25% in 2022 – around one-third of the loss of its S&P 500 tracker fund. 

One of the potential advantages of actively managed funds is that they are able to rebalance during a downturn which means they are better placed to manage risk and protect from losses.

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

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Research, Tools and Advice

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

In addition, beginner investors are also well-served with both Hargreaves Lansdown as it provides a range of guides and explainers for those with less investing experience.

Vanguard specialises in passive index funds and so it doesn’t offer much at all in the way of research and tools. It does have a pensions calculator on its website, as well as some basic guides for beginner investors. 

By contrast, Hargreaves Lansdown has its own team of research analysts who regularly produce views and analysis of the market and specific funds. It also provides market round-ups of other published research and ratings changes. 

This makes Hargreaves Lansdown the better option if you want access to more comprehensive tools and analysis. I regularly use the Hargreaves Lansdown app to get quick market updates.

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. Vanguard no longer offers financial advice.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Which Has The Better App?

Vanguard does not have an app, so you’ll have to be comfortable with logging in online through its website to track your investments. 

Hargreaves Lansdown does have an app and in my view it’s very user friendly. Here’s a snapshot:

It allows you to see your investments and portfolios, as well as fund your account. Market news and updates are also regularly provided in-app which is a useful feature that I make use of.

I view Hargreaves Lansdown’s app as one of the better investment apps on the market. It’s easy to navigate and you can view, create or edit watchlists directly in it. You can also fund your account and execute orders through the app, including stop loss and limit orders.  

Hargreaves Lansdown is the clear winner vs Vanguard. Read my rundown of the best investment apps in the UK.

Hargreaves Lansdown – Switch Your Money On

ISAs, Pensions, Funds and Shares.

Thousands of stocks, bonds & funds to choose from with the UK’s largest platform for private investors.

ISAs, Pensions, Funds and Shares.
Thousands of stocks, bonds & funds to choose from with the UK’s largest platform for private investors.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Is My Money Safe?

Both Vanguard 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 available with both Vanguard and Hargreaves Lansdown are located outside of the UK and may not necessarily be 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 Hargreaves Lansdown are held with a range of different banks. Both Hargreaves Lansdown and Vanguard 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 Vanguard vs Hargreaves Lansdown, they are pretty evenly matched with both offering high levels of protection for your money.

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Pros & Cons

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

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
  • Lots of investment research and useful tools, good for experienced investors
  • Offers regulated personal financial advice, great 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 more products than Vanguard, including a Cash ISA, Junior SIPP and Stocks & Shares LISA
  • Hargreaves Lansdown’s minimum investment is lower than Vanguard’s for all account types

Hargreaves Lansdown Cons

  • Higher fund costs for its ready-made portfolios vs Vanguard
  • Higher platform charges compared to Vanguard

Vanguard Pros & Cons

Vanguard Pros

  • Managed investments are cheaper than Hargreaves Lansdown’s
  • Low platform fee of 0.15% means that fund investing is cheaper for any amount of investment vs Hargreaves Lansdown (but you are limited only to Vanguard funds)
  • Over 80 funds to choose from including its popular LifeStrategy and Target Retirement funds
  • Customisable portfolios
  • Index investing has historically outperformed most robo-advisors on a cumulative basis but past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance
  • Slightly more managed portfolios options, with 5 vs Hargreaves Lansdown’s 4

Vanguard Cons

  • On the flip side, you can only invest in Vanguard funds whereas Hargreaves Lansdown offers thousands
  • Cannot invest in stocks, bonds or other asset classes
  • No app, you can only log in through the Vanguard website
  • Investing in Vanguard’s own funds is cheaper with InvestEngine than with Vanguard
  • No Cash ISA, Junior SIPP or Stocks & Shares LISA

Hargreaves Lansdown vs Vanguard: Final Verdict

If you’re happy with only investing in Vanguard funds then you will prefer Vanguard vs Hargreaves Lansdown. It has lower fees and you have full access to all of Vanguard’s managed and passive funds. 

For ready-made portfolios, Vanguard is also the cheaper option. However, these portfolios are constructed only from Vanguard’s funds. In addition, Vanguard’s product options are relatively limited.

It’s also actually cheaper to invest in Vanguard funds through InvestEngine.

If you want to invest in more than just Vanguard’s funds, then Hargreaves Lansdown is the winner. It has far more asset classes to invest in with thousands of stocks, bonds and funds to choose from.

It also has one of the best mobile apps on the market, allowing you to invest and access the latest market insight at your fingertips.

You also have a wider choice of products with Hargreaves Lansdown, including a Cash ISA, Stocks & Shares LISA and Junior SIPP – none of which are available with Vanguard. 

Hargreaves Lansdown is a great platform for both beginner and more experienced investors. Plus, if you want guidance from a professional, then you’ll also prefer Hargreaves Lansdown as it offers regulated financial advice.

Hargreaves Lansdown – Switch Your Money On

ISAs, Pensions, Funds and Shares.

Thousands of stocks, bonds & funds to choose from with the UK’s largest platform for private investors.

ISAs, Pensions, Funds and Shares.
Thousands of stocks, bonds & funds to choose from with the UK’s largest platform for private investors.

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