FreeTrade is a project I believe in, that’s why I joined the last round of funding. It starts with why: to make investing simple.
However, when it comes to features, FreeTrade severely lags behind its older and more mature competitor: Trading212. And looking at the roadmap, it doesn’t look like this will change anytime soon.
The reason people choose FreeTrade over Trading212 is less to do with any particular substantive thing FreeTrade can offer than Trading212 cannot, it’s more a feeling. Like an Apple fanatic will defend the Mac and the iPhone at length against Windows Computers and Samsungs with superior features, FreeTrade users will defend it against its competitors based on feeling - brand loyalty.
This is largely thanks to the ethos the team at FreeTrade follow, that has seeped into every element: from the name of the company to the UI to the support. Everything is about being simple and helpful.
To a complete outsider, Trading212 sounds like some sketchy 00s website. And when they join it, they will wonder: so is this for trading or investing? The UI on 212 feels oppressive and unfriendly when compared to FreeTrade. It definitely suffers from a lack of positive branding and connection with its userbase.
But it doesn’t lack in features.
Particularly, the new AutoInvest feature with Investment Pies puts 212 a country mile beyond FreeTrade in terms of functionality. And it challenges FreeTrade’s whole ethos: making investing simple. Because what is more simple then saying I want to invest 10% here, 5% here, 20% here, now do this for me automatically, thank you, I’ll check on you in a few years time.
The fact this isn’t on the roadmap for FreeTrade worries me more than anything else, in terms of FreeTrade’s ability to position itself as the dominant player in the UK stock broking market. Because this feature is not just a gimmick, it’s not a fun extra, it really is what the future is for the average investor. It’s easy to set up, it does almost everything for you and it makes investing fun.
I like to allocate my investments by % of my portfolio. To do this on FreeTrade requires a rather complex spreadsheet that turns my head in circles whenever I confront it (and I’m reasonably good at maths). For investors with less capital, thanks to a lack of fractional shares on UK stocks, the percentages simply never work out as planned, not even close.
FreeTrade is by far, the better brand. But, its platform still lacks. Particularly, the feature I mentioned above.
This thread mostly serves to highlight how adding this feature would closely match the FreeTrade ethos, whilst giving people no reason to move over to its competitor.
I strongly hope this feature is at least in the minds of the FreeTrade team.