An Honest Critique of FreeTrade

I see recent Freetrade moves as a lack of proper strategy. Who are they building this for? I personally have no clue.

Are they targeting growth investors? — then where are hot spacs?
Are they catering to super long term passive investors? — where is the SIPP?
Young affluent families? — where is investment JISA?
People who want efficient investing? — where are low FX rates and USD accounts?
People who are new to investing? — where is more guidance in regards to how real time pricing works for example which is driving every new investor crazy?

I am sure they have done at least basic research and have personas or customer segmentation or whatever it is but this makes me wonder what those are.

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They can’t do everything all at once it’s a process that takes time. They are in the process of doing a bunch of what you suggested. They have started adding more SPACS; SIPP’s are coming soon pending HMRC approval and the waitlist is open for them; I think a JISA is somewhere down the line as well as a LISA; they have improved pricing to have shorter refresh windows but have stated live pricing is very expensive; and they are aiming to add stock fundamentals, news and articles for new investors before Christmas.

They don’t have to target one specific niche group they’re targeting various demographics who would want to engage in long term investing, they have said frequently this is their goal. They have made it clear they are not for day trading, but for long term investing which can have various methods and demographics within that and they are developing the app to cater for any of these people but it won’t happen overnight.


Fundamentally, freetrade are building (completely from scratch) a platform that goes against decades and decades of standard retail investment conventions.

I’m with you, they need to do as many of those features as you said as possible but they have to do it sustainably. Have you seen the Christmas list?

Beyond perplexed by this post. I can’t understand how you have the time and willingness to post it but not the same to do the research on the company you’re questioning.

Many of the points you’ve noted are already in development, part of the roadmap, or have been discussed through various mediums, and to say FT don’t have a strategy or specific target for it’s offering with a clear ethos at the heart of the company is, frankly, bewildering.


“Everyone is our audience and everything is on the road map” is not a strategy.

Unless you are referring to something I don’t know about.

Stock trading (zero commission) & investment app | Freetrade - this, probably


I think the strategy is pretty clear, in fact it’s detailed on their homepage:

We’re on a mission to get everyone investing, building a platform to help customers achieve better long-term financial outcomes.

I’d actually argue every “recent move” that FT has recently made is in alignment with that clear and transparent mission statement. The SIPP waiting list is out, more stocks and ETFs are being added at pace, Stock fundamentals/in-app content are due before Christmas, Plus has shipped, MWRR/TWRR are out, amongst many other updates.

While you believe they need to target a very specific niche of investors, they appear to somewhat disagree it needs to be done to that extent, and with the speed of growth - in particular user growth - they are enjoying, I’d be inclined to think they’re right.

To pick up on your particular point about “people who are new to investing?”, the FT Invest Hub is a solid resource (also listed on their homepage). In fairness it doesn’t contain guidance on real time pricing at the moment, but have you requested that? There’s new content added to that hub every single week, so it seems unfair to pick up on specific areas of missing content.


While I don’t think that Freetrade need to target a specific niche of customers, I would agree with the sentiment that Freetrade have been targeting those who trade frequently as opposed to the majority of investors who tend to buy and hold.

I would also be cautious about concentrating on the growth of user numbers - as an investor or for a PE they are always good to see - but worth noting the PRA has recently raised concerns that too many new firms are concentrating on this metric at the expense of others.

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That’s interesting. Do you have any link for that? Thanks.

The article talks about banks but the same would apply to others like Freetrade.

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As much as I personally like tracking Freetrade user numbers, I definitely don’t think Freetrade themselves are prioritising it, so the PRA can be happy about that :slight_smile:


I started with Freetrade and love it. I’m new to investing in shares and like the ethos and the simplicity of it. However, we the recent message about some shares only being available for Plus members I have also started a Trading212 account. The pie feature is interesting and useful and I just need to get my head around it. There are other features too on there which I don’t believe are on Freetrade but it’s not as user friendly. I’ll try them both out and will probably invest in both. Anyone else that does this - why do you invest in one over another?


I have a couple of shares on 212 that aren’t currently available on Freetrade. However their terms and conditions hold me back from putting any serious money there.

Nothing wrong with using multiple platforms to suit your needs. Though I expect I will likely not be using 212 by the end of next year.


Can I ask why Eden?

My personal concern is mainly around the increased potential risk with how they hold funds and stocks. You can see what I’ve said here Plus Paywall Stocks Poll - #29 by Eden

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Its DAU, active subs and AUM that should matter I guess.


You’ve mentioned a couple of times about increased risk with T212 compared to FT. I’ve read the T&Cs you mentioned and I don’t see the difference - both hold client funds in the UK in separate client accounts and both hold shares on behalf of customers as nominee holdings ie FT or T212 buy the shares and hold them on your behalf and operate internal stock records.

Both have used or still use intermediaries for market access: my understanding is FT trade directly on the LSE but through an intermediary for the USA. T212 trade through IBKR for all trades.


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12.7. We may hold client money in a client bank account located in a jurisdiction outside the UK. The legal and regulatory regime applying to any such bank will be different from that of the UK and in the event of the insolvency or any other equivalent failure of that bank, your money may be treated differently from the treatment which would apply if the money was held with a bank in the UK.

212 may hold funds in a non UK bank account which may not be subject to the same regulatory rules as if it were in a UK bank account. (* the bank may be subject to different rules, not 212) (this is the same for Freetrade fyi)

13.5. Investments purchased by us on your behalf or transferred to us will be registered in the name of a nominee company or our name or a sub-custodian. We will be responsible and liable for our nominee to the same extent as for our own acts, including losses arising from fraud, wilful default or negligence.

13.9. You agree that because of the nature of applicable laws or market practices in certain overseas jurisdictions, we may decide that it is in your best interest for your Investments held with us to be registered or recorded in our name or in the name of the person who is a custodian for the purposes of the FCA Rules, and if it is not feasible for us to do this, then:

  1. your Investments may be registered or recorded in the name of the firm or custodian as the case may be;
  2. your Investments may not be segregated and separately identifiable from the Investments of the firm or custodian in whose name your investments are registered; and
  3. as a consequence, in the event of a failure, your Investments may not be as well protected from claims made on behalf of our general creditors. You should note that when we arrange for a third-party to hold your Investments overseas there may be different settlement, legal and regulatory requirements than those applied in the UK.

Highlight mine. They specifically state that they may hold your assets directly in their own name rather than a nominee account.

They only replied initially to my concern about funds saying that 100% of client money is held in the UK. When i showed them their own terms they changed their response to say that this (both holding money aboard, and their terms around holding assets in their own name rather than a nominee) is to allow them ‘flexibility’ in case of emergency to take urgent action and to keep their business model sustainable.

In contrast Freetrade say the following

In regards to investments

When you invest with Freetrade, any UK-listed stocks or ETFs that you buy are held in your name by Freetrade Nominees Limited, which holds stocks and ETFs , with you as the beneficial owner.


We use third-party Custodians to hold our clients’ funds (including your Available Funds) and Securities for them. In the case of Securities purchased by you through our Services, we may use our own nominee company, Freetrade Nominees Limited, which is also a Custodian. We will require those Custodians to hold your Available Funds and Securities in accordance with the rules of the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom, including that all cash should be held in a segregated and designated client money bank account (to be clear, you will not have your own account with our Custodian, there could be a single account in which all of our customers’ funds, including yours, will be deposited).

In regards to funds, or more specifically location of where funds are held Freetrade are similar in that funds may be held aboard

While we will typically use Custodians that will hold our clients’ funds (including your Available Funds) and Securities in the United Kingdom, we may also, in our sole discretion and based on the Securities in which you make Instructions, appoint Custodians to hold funds and/or Securities abroad. We will use reasonable endeavours to ensure that the level of protection afforded by Custodians who hold funds and/or Securities abroad will be materially the same as the level of protection afforded by our Custodians who hold funds and/or Securities in the United Kingdom, however you should be aware that there may be differences.

As i’ve said previously, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with the terms, but people seem to be completely unaware of the terms of how their investments may be held. Depending on where funds may be held is potentially more of an issue if the bank goes bust. Different regulatory protections apply in different countries but I expect that the vast majority of people aren’t keeping significant cash in their accounts (i believe for example the maximum protected amount in Ireland is less than the UK).
Investments are another story because everyone assumes that their investments are held with a third party custodian unlinked from the main company and therefor protected but the 212 terms dont say that.

Interestingly 212s terms state that only investments held with a nominee company are held with you as beneficial owner. Whether this is just an oversight I dont know, id give them the benefit of the doubt and say it probably is. But the whole point of a nominee is to protect you from debts of the company.

13.6. Whenever your Investments are registered in the name of a Nominee company nominated by us, that Nominee will hold them on trust for you. This means that you are the beneficial owner of the Investments. Any Investments held by a Nominee will be held in an omnibus account.

Holding assets in their own name is my concern and i wasn’t happy with their response around it either, so for me personally while i may use them im unlikely to keep any large holding with them in the future.


Yes, this is true. The usual practice for this is to hold shares in a separate nominee company, this ensures that your shares are always separated from the main company. That’s outlined in my post above. In the case of 212 they state they may deviate from this practice and hold shares in their own name rather than a nominee.

As to your reason that they may do so to lend out shares, they don’t say this in their terms and conditions. They only say that they will lend out shares but you will continue to be the beneficial owner. the beneficial owner isnt the same as the name on the share, and they make no mention of shares changing ownership to themselves in regards to share lending.


After reading this thread , people will decide whether you want to have an account there at all with the risks involved .