Tried to go all in on an ISA. Ended up closing the ISA 😔

I thought it might be useful to share some recent experience with Freetrade’s customer service team.

I opened an ISA a few months ago and I stopped funding my regular account in favour of that.

When FT announced charges, I made the decision to go all in on the ISA. I’d move my holding on my regular account first, then look to do a full ISA switch in the new year.

Things didn’t quite go to plan and I ended up closing my ISA out of frustration. There were lots of little issues that just didn’t feel right but they boiled down to three things:

  • The amount of time and sheer hassle in moving funds. I understand that FT is new - and that in any event I’d probably still need to do some stuff myself - but the sell down, wait for funds to clear then wait another x days for what should simply be a quick movement of funds between accounts seemed too much.

  • The security theatre around this. When trying to move money, I was asked to confirm my date of birth and the exact amount I wanted to move. I confirmed my DOB (which is now in the chat history so anyone with access to the app can now see it) and asked if they could just move all the funds. I was told that due to security I had to type out the exact amount. I don’t understand how either of these steps actually improve security.

  • Finally, there was felt like a lack of empathy and, well, service. At the end, when i offered some (fairly neutrally) phrased feedback on the security, I felt like I was dismissed. When I mentioned that the time taken to move the money (after it had cleared) seemed like a long time, I was told “standard industry procedures” etc. Excellent service would be something like “we’re so sorry it takes so long and would love to make it shorter” or something.

Anyway, this isn’t intended as a complaint, just as feedback. I’m an investor, but £3/month revenue that Freetrade could have easily had from me has been passed over due to some fairly basic issues, really. So I’m sharing this in the hope of making things better!

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By posting this on here, what are you hoping to achieve? Freetrade are a new company, they’re learning and trying to develop new and streamlined processes, they’ve only just began actually charging you for your ISA for instance. Why couldn’t you just complain directly to them and give them the feedback that way. Infact you could even have emailed the CEO directly and probably got a reply, that’s how open and transparent a company they are.

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I know @Peter from the Monzo forum and this will have been made with completely the best intentions to provide quality feedback that can be actioned.

Sorry to read it didn’t work out for you. @Viktor is this something you could feedback to the relevant team?

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It’s interesting to hear how other people are finding the experiece of using Freetrade. It will also allow other people to chip in with their own experiences. This will help everyone see if there’s a one off or a pattern, and hopefully also improve the use that Freetrade can make from the feedback.

For what it’s worth, @Peter, I haven’t opened an ISA yet myself, but I have experienced what you call ‘the lack of empathy’ myself, when I comment about something I wasn’t happy with and thought could be improved. All I got was “we’ll pass it on”, not a word of “sorry”. To be fair, in my case another member of staff did later apologise to me, but it does sound like the front line of contact needs better scripts. (Or perhaps I’ve been spoiled by getting used to Monzo levels of empathy?)

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I’m sorry if I’ve upset anyone here, that wasn’t my intention. I’m a big supporter of Freetrade and really want them to succeed - I think that talking about some of the challenges is important and leads to better outcomes. But if the consensus of the Community is that it’s better not to discuss these things, that’s okay too.

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Sounds like you got there in the end? Why then close the ISA? Did the bad experience not end after switching?

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Thanks for sharing your experience @Peter

How does this compare with transfers with other providers?

To be honest, towards the end of the process I just got a bit exasperated and asked them to stop everything and to close the ISA. I never actually had the money moved across. I also never transferred my Nutmeg ISA in the end (doing it internally within Freetrade seemed painful enough, do I wasn’t ready for that).

I’ve decided, I think, to see how the ISA product matures and then come back next year, maybe. I’ll stick with Nutmeg for now (my probably bad maths has my portfolio roughly at the tipping point where FT is about the same cost/month).

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Confession time: I’ve transferred/switched loads of bank accounts. But never an ISA :scream:

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Constructive criticism is OK. I guess the “lack of empathy” is a training issue, possibly due to fast growing support team?

Hopefully transfers will work better on the new platform

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Perhaps @Gemhappe or someone can comment on the ISA transfer process better, but from what I’ve heard it’s very manual and process heavy. There aren’t any nice standard switching APIs and streamlined processes like with current account switching. It’s really as easy or difficult as the incumbent ISA provider makes it (and they dont have much incentive to make it easy).

Of course , I’m a Freetrade apologist, but I think a lot of this probably isn’t actually FT’s fault. I totally agree they should have made that clear and apologised themselves if its true.

I think he’s talking about transfer from Freetrade Regular account to Freetrade ISA, can’t really blame anyone else for that

I’ve been waiting 7 days to transfer from standard account to ISA so far.

2 days without a reply on my latest message.

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Ah ok, transfer from regular to ISA. Yeah, that seems like something FT should have full control over and should aim to make it very quick and painless. It should be very easy for someone to switch to a paid part of the product. Hopefully they’re listening.

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I don’t understand people having a go at companies for asking too many security questions or being too strict on security. In most cases they’re literally just following the law and it’s outside of their control.

Anyway, @Peter, surely you’d want stringent checks when it comes to something like this?

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Spot on Cameron. Asking to confirm an amount in £ or type a date of birth to help verify something would’ve taken a lot less time and effort than a rant on here.

Agree. While I am sure that Peter has a point, the security part is not up to debate. When banking with HSBC, every conversation with any of their services involves telling them my DOB, even if you go to the clerk to make account changes.

Moving money from your basic Freetrade account to your Freetrade ISA should be a piece of piss.

There should be no need for support to be involved.

That transfer tool hasn’t been built yet.

There should be no need for additional security - you are transferring funds internally between your own accounts.

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That’s not security. That’s security theatre. You’ve already gone through security to get into the app. Not to mention you could view the date of birth by just looking at other messages.

@Pedro1 it’s feedback. I can tell you’re a fan of Freetrade, as am I, but don’t let it blind you to actual issues.

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I’m not sure I personally take Peters post as a rant. The security point is probably a case of the way some people have more history with banks asking for these details over chat than others where this wouldn’t have been widespread even just 3 years ago in my experience.

The whole first post seems to me to come across as exactly how I view freetrade and this community on the whole. Open for constructive discussion and willing to listen to issues others may have had to resolve then and or increase the understanding of them in the first place?

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