It’ll be a ‘Dodl’: AJ Bell to launch new commission-free app

DIY investing platform AJ Bell is to launch a new investment app that will allow Britons to buy and sell a range of investments with no commission charges.

Dodl will offer fee-free share and fund dealing, with just an annual charge of 0.15 per cent – as it goes head-to-head with rapidly growing rival investment apps, such as Freetrade, which don’t charge customers to buy and sell stocks.

But Dodl won’t offer the chance to buy the full stock market and will instead have a streamlined selection of 50 UK shares and 30 funds at launch, with some popular US shares joining the offering shortly afterwards.

AJ Bell says Dodl will offer trading accounts, stocks and shares Isa and self invested personal pensions, with the ability to invest in shares and funds – and a range of ‘themed investments’ centred on industries such as technology, responsible investing, robotics and healthcare.

Keeping change: Customers will be charged 0.15 per cent on each of their Dodl accounts every year, meaning someone with £100,000 of investments would only pay £150 in total

Customers will be charged just 0.15 per cent on each of their investment accounts every year, meaning an individual with £100,000 in an independent savings account would only pay £150 in total.

They will be able to pay into their accounts through popular digital wallet services such as Apple and Google Pay, along with the more traditional methods of direct debit and bank payments.

More notably, the FTSE 250 firm said there would be no fees for either purchasing or selling investments, compared to a £3.50 maximum monthly charge on shares, trusts and exchange-traded funds on its YouInvest platform.

It said the platform, which it hopes to get up and running in the first half of next year, is designed to ‘make investing more straightforward and accessible for retail investors.’

AJ Bell also intends to include its low-cost multi-asset funds and its Responsible Growth fund as part of the Dodl platform, and eventually feature shares in American companies sometime after the launch happens.  

Chief executive Andy Bell believes the new platform would suit ‘anyone looking for a low-cost, easy-to-use investment app to help them meet their investment goals such as saving for a house deposit, holidays or retirement.

‘The intuitive investment journey and streamlined investment range will appeal particularly to those that are new to investing and want a simple way to manage their investments.’

Man in charge: AJ Bell's chief executive Andy Bell said Dodl would be 'amongst the cheapest and best value investment platforms in the market'

Man in charge: AJ Bell’s chief executive Andy Bell said Dodl would be ‘amongst the cheapest and best value investment platforms in the market’

The range of investments on Dodl will be far more limited than the full stock market offering of big brother platform AJ Bell. 

At launch there will be 50 UK shares, which the firm said would be big household brands customers will know and want to invest in, and 30 funds. Of the funds, seven will be from AJ Bell’s own range, multi-asset risk rated funds and its Responsible Growth fund. 

The remaining 23 will be external investment funds – predominantly low cost trackers – with three of the Vanguard Lifestrategy funds available to give this popular multi-asset option – in 40 per cent, 60 per cent and 80 per cent equity formats.

He additionally claimed that Dodl would be ‘amongst the cheapest and best value investment platforms in the market’ and will give customers ‘an investment range that is easy to choose from and caters for the investment needs of the majority of people.’

Investor boom: Last month, AJ Bell revealed total customer numbers climbed by 30 per cent to more than 380,000 while net inflows surged by over half to £6.4billion

Investor boom: Last month, AJ Bell revealed total customer numbers climbed by 30 per cent to more than 380,000 while net inflows surged by over half to £6.4billion

AJ Bell has already enjoyed a very successful coronavirus pandemic, gaining a multitude of new customers, many of whom are young and came to investing for the first time during the global health crisis.

Last month, it revealed total customer numbers climbed by 30 per cent to more than 380,000 over the past year, while net inflows surged by over half to £6.4billion and total assets under administration soared to £72.8billion. 

But it did admit that since Covid-19 pandemic restrictions started easing over the summer, retail trading has started returning to more normalised levels relative to its peak. 

AJ Bell is one of the main rivals to DIY investing giant Hargreaves Lansdown, along with Interactive Investor, which is in talks with fund manager Abrdn for it to be bought out but is also considering its own stock market float. 

Holly Mackay, the head of financial research company Boring Money, said: ‘Despite its positioning as an app for newer investors, I should think the majority of people Googling this today will be curious, affluent 40 and 50-somethings, with a relatively mainstream buy and hold portfolio. 50 shares and 25 external funds will satisfy many people’s requirements – for 0.3 per cent less than Hargreaves Lansdown each year.’ 

Shares in AJ Bell closed trading 0.1 per cent lower at 396.8p on Monday, meaning their value has fallen by about 9.5 per cent so far this year.

Compare the best DIY investing platforms and stocks & shares Isa

Investing online is simple, cheap and can be done from your computer, tablet or phone at a time and place that suits you.

When it comes to choosing a DIY investing platform, stocks & shares Isa or a general investing account, the range of options might seem overwhelming. 

Every provider has a slightly different offering, charging more or less for trading or holding shares and giving access to a different range of stocks, funds and investment trusts. 

When weighing up the right one for you, it’s important to to look at the service that it offers, along with administration charges and dealing fees, plus any other extra costs.

To help you compare investment accounts, we’ve crunched the facts and pulled together a comprehensive guide to choosing the best and cheapest investing account for you. 

We highlight the main players in the table below but would advise doing your own research and considering the points in our full guide linked here.

>> This is Money’s full guide to the best investing platforms and Isas 

Admin charge Charges notes Fund dealing Standard share, trust, ETF dealing Regular investing Dividend reinvestment
AJ Bell YouInvest 0.25%  Max £3.50 per month for shares, trusts, ETFs.  £1.50 £9.95 £1.50 1% (Min £1.50, max £9.95)  More details
Bestinvest 0.40% Free £7.50 n/a n/a More details
Charles Stanley Direct 0.35%  No platform fee on shares if a trade in that month and annual max of £240 Free £11.50 n/a n/a More details
Fidelity 0.35% on funds £45 fee up to £7,500. Max £45 per year for shares,  trusts,  ETFs Free £10 Free funds £1.50 shares, trusts ETFs £1.50 More details
Hargreaves Lansdown 0.45% Capped at £45 for shares, trusts, ETFs Free £11.95 £1.50 1% (£1 min, £10 max) More details
Interactive Investor  £119.88 as £9.99 per month £7.99 per month back in trading credit £7.99 £7.99 Free £0.99 More details
iWeb £100 one-off £5 £5 n/a 2%, max £5 More details
Freetrade Free for standard account £3 month for Isa  Freetrade Plus with more investments is £9.99/month inc. Isa fee No funds  Free  n/a  n/a  More details 
Vanguard  0.15%   
Only Vanguard funds
Free  Free only Vanguard ETFs  Free  n/a  More details 
(Source: July 2021. Admin charges quoted annually, may be monthly or quarterly)