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The Share Centre offers a flexible pricing strategy which enables a wide range of investors to get the cheapest rates available on the market. The Standard account is perfect for those of us looking to invest a small amount and make very few transactions as commissions can be as low as £7.50 and rarely rise much above this. If you happen to come across more funds to invest, or maybe feel more confident in your abilities, you may want to upgrade to the Regular Investor account. For a small annual fee of £20 you can enjoy investing at a flat rate of £7.50 per deal. This is THE lowest rate of commission on the market.
For investors with more funds available and looking to make more than 8 trades a month it is well worth considering The Share Centre´s Premium account with which, for an annual fee of £2.500, you can enjoy unlimited commission free share dealing. This is also the case with the Premium+ account except, for £1000 more, you get access to award-winning Sharescope Pro investment software which includes live (level 2) prices; perfect for serious investors involved in day trading.
We really liked this graduated pricing structure offered by The Share Centre and especially the calculator available on their website which helps you make your decision on which account suits you best. On the downside, The Share Centre´s regular and automatic investment options which reduce transaction costs yet further, only apply to shares in Share PLC themselves. This way, although The Share Centre offer the best flat fees, they can be beaten in price by competitors offering regular investment schemes.
The Share Centre has been known to be a rather "cheap and cheerful" option in the world of online stock trading. Recently however, they have made a big effort to offer more in-depth market research tools. Although these still may be a little lacking compared to what other products in this category offer, anyone who knows anything about stock trading will know that 99% of this information can be found on other websites for free. What is more, quite uniquely, The Share Centre offer FREE expert advice which really gives a nice personal touch to their service. This personal touch is repeated throughout the customer service at the Share Centre which we found to be consistently courteous and attentive.
Despite less actual investment opportunities with The Share Centre, most markets can be accessed in a less direct manner. For example, although there is no direct access to commodity markets, users can invest in companies involved in the supply side of a certain sector which will invariably be linked to prices of the commodities specific to that industry. At The Share Centre´s Fund Supermarket it is possible to invest in funds directly related to certain sectors such as emerging markets, ethical investments or the service industry.
Finally, although only UK shares are available, you can invest indirectly in world markets by investing in those UK registered companies that have a lot of holdings and business in whatever market you think will grow. For example, if you think that the NASDAQ will rise significantly then investment in FTSE100 companies engaged in a high volume of trade with Japan would be your ideal investment choice. For most of us the investment options offered by The Share Centre will be sufficient. Furthermore, less options make investing less confusing and indirect investment can actually be a great way of managing risk.
One area in which The Share Centre is slightly let down is its platform which we felt was a bit "budget" and occasionally crashed or was impossible to access. That said, these instances were few and far between and would not really negatively effect anyone but the committed day trader.
A unique feature of The Share Centre which we liked was the Share Holder Perk which gives users who are also shareholders in Share PLC additional savings on dealing commissions, making your costs at The Share Centre even lower. Furthermore, from some quick market research we have found these shares to be, on the whole, a good investment as they can be purchased virtually commission free. We also liked The Share Centre´s free practice account as it is a great way to check out whether the platform they offer is suitable for you and, for first time investors, whether online stock dealing is your "cup of tea".
We would also recommend to anyone considering The Share Centre to move from the practice account to a small investment in the Standard account; this way you can check out how you and The Share Centre fare under real market conditions which will inevitably be different to those of a practice account.
Overall, despite not being the slickest, most feature packed platform out there, The Share Centre offer a range of packages to cater for investors looking for some of the most competitive prices in this category. We were disappointed that The Share Centre don´t offer a regular investment scheme and, if flexibility is not an issue for you, we would recommend looking elsewhere. However, if you are looking for low commission trading and don´t want to be restricted to the confines of a regular investor scheme then the Share Centre may well be the site for you.
Although this will suit medium size investors well, it may be more important for more serious investors to have all their information in one place and have access to a smooth, well designed platform. You will only find this on The Share Centre´s Premium+ account and, at £3.500 per year, it is well worth doing some research before committing.
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