Every so often, an app, idea, or website comes along that has the potential to revolutionize an industry. Facebook, for example, revolutionized the social media industry. Zuckerberg created an innovative, unique way for people to keep in touch online. VISA and MasterCard both revolutionized the financial services industry. They created an entirely new alternative to carrying around a bunch of cash in your wallet. As we’ll see in this Shares review, it feels like the masterminds behind Shares.io are onto something big, too. It could revolutionize the way the average person approaches and thinks about investing! With that said, it’s not for everyone just yet. However, this company is still relatively new, and they have some fantastic ideas.
Here’s what you need to know about this exciting new share dealer and see if this investment company is right for you!
Shares Review: What Is Social Investing?
When making any major life decision, typically, people will talk about it a bit with their close friends, or they might seek out advice from coworkers, their partner, or even their children. Even minor decisions, people talk about and discuss with other people. Almost everything people do is social, except, strangely, investing.
With investing, people tend to make decisions in private or with the help of a qualified financial advisor. There are some excellent reasons for this, most notably that people tend not to want to be responsible for losing other people’s money. Additionally, we hope that financial advisors have more knowledge and skills to offer better guidance.
But, what if investing were a social activity? What if you could see what your friends were buying? What if you and your buddies could work together to develop powerful investment strategies? Perhaps you’ll identify some opportunities, and your friends will identify others.
Of course, you’re still controlling your own money and your destiny. Still, that social aspect – sharing what you’ve found, what excites you in investing – is a potentially powerful and revolutionary concept and one that traditional share dealers like Hargreaves Lansdown have never explored. Sure, you can go online and talk about investing on Reddit, but that’s not the same as potentially investing alongside your friends and being able to share ideas within the same app.
That’s what Shares.io is doing. They’re bringing a social aspect to investing, and as we will see in our Shares review, they’re primarily quite successful!
Shares.io: What Does This Platform Offer?
Shares.io is, at its core, a share dealer and a social media site, merged into one identity. You can have a social account without having a trading account if you want to see what’s happening in the social community, create chats, or join existing ones. Indeed, to open a social profile, you don’t even need to be a UK resident since it’s the equivalent of opening a Facebook account. However, if you want to start trading, you’ll need to open a trading account, which requires you to be a UK resident.
Furthermore, they only offer a standard brokerage account, so if you are looking for a SIPP or something similar, you will have to look elsewhere. You can also only have one account at this time.
While that limitation is less-than-ideal, given the relatively early stage of this company, it’s understandable. They want to get this experience right. Hopefully, in the future, they will offer the ability to have different account options and to have more than one account on the platform!
You can only buy stocks from the NASDAQ and NYSE. The structure of the company is a little interesting, too. It seems like the company opens accounts in the UK, with currency as pounds. However, the shares themselves reside in a brokerage account provided by Alpaca Securities LLC, a US company. Effectively, Shares provides an easy way to get a US brokerage account with an easy and familiar experience for UK residents.
Of course, these limited account types and options are why Shares is not for everyone (as noted above). If you want to trade FTSE stocks or anything not on the NYSE and NASDAQ, or you want UK account types (like a SIPP or ISA), this platform is not for you – at least right now.
Fees and Other Costs
One of the areas where Shares.io truly excels is in its fees – or lack thereof! Many platforms nickel and dime you, but Shares is genuinely unique in this regard, mainly because their use of a US brokerage account means that UK residents can enjoy those lower costs.
They have 0% commissions for trades. They also have £0 transfer fees, both for depositing money and withdrawing it. And, because it is a US account, there are no annual fees for your account based on its value. Indeed, opening, keeping, and trading with your account won’t cost you anything.
The only place where Shares charges is the conversion from British pounds to US dollars. You will pay the Interbank rate plus 0.4%. The 0.4% represents the markup where the dealer makes its money. Additionally, because Shares cannot hold USD in the wallet, you’ll have to pay this currency conversion cost on each buy and sell transaction (GBP to USD to buy and USD to GBP to sell) Update: As of 12 March 2023 the fee structure will change to 1GBP per trade.
Even though the exchange rate is how Shares makes its money, this rate is quite competitive. For example, Hargreaves Lansdown charges 1% on the first £5,000, 0.75% on the next £5,000, 0.5% on the £10,000 after that, and 0.25% on the amount over £20,000. If your trades are below £20,000, you’ll pay a significantly lower currency exchange fee with Shares than with HL. Plus, you won’t have the share dealing charge!
Other Perks of a Shares Account
As we’ve already established in this Shares review, it’s an attractive option if you want to buy US stocks on the NYSE or NASDAQ. There are minimal fees, and the option to open and fund your account in pounds is excellent.
There are also a couple of other perks of a Shares account that some other dealers don’t have.
First, you can buy, hold, and sell fractional shares with this company. That means you can buy 21.121 shares of Apple, for example, at £2,000 instead of needing to buy 21 shares even at £1912.94. With fractional shares, you can always invest every pound you deposit.
Secondly, there are no minimums! You can invest as little as £2 into a share if you want. That makes Shares an incredibly accessible option for people looking to start investing.
Shares Review: The App
The app is vital for the user experience – unlike many share dealers, Shares does not have a mechanism to log in to your account or make trades on the web. Instead, you must do everything from the app, which is available for Android and iOS devices.
Fortunately, the app is a joy to use for the most part. The target audience is, of course, people who are passionate about investing but may be new to the space. Therefore, the trading platform is intentionally not overwhelming. You’ll see all the information you’d expect to see, including share prices, quotes, and all your portfolio information.
Additionally, you’ll see a social section where you can see what your friends are buying or selling. You can watch selected shares with your friends and even chat about investment opportunities.
Of course, the social aspect is where the magic happens – the ability to easily follow what your friends and family are investing in makes it easy to identify potential investment opportunities. You can get ideas and explore companies that you might not look at yourself (for example, maybe you’re knowledgeable about the US tech scene, but the fact that Chevron pays substantial dividends is new to you).
There’s also something powerfully motivating about social investing. When using the app, investing feels more exciting – it feels like something you’re doing with friends instead of something you go home and do as a chore. Instead of dreading opening up your account and wondering which shares to buy, you can see your friends putting money into stocks and either join them or go your own way.
It’s a different mindset and one that is refreshing. After so many years of investing being a solo sport, it’s nice to rethink investing as something more social!
Shares Review: For the Right Person, It Will Change Their World
The brains behind Shares.io have decided to focus on one thing and do it exceptionally well. This dealer is not for everyone. It’s for someone who wants to invest in US stocks in a general brokerage account – not a SIPP, not an ISA, but just a plain old dealing account.
For that user, they have created something quite powerful. It’s arguably one of the most inexpensive platforms around, and it incorporates a powerful social aspect that most other dealers don’t have. Even if somewhat basic, the app is well-designed, and new features regularly come.
Given how early on Shares is in its corporate trajectory, it’s easy to see how much potential this company truly has. Assuming they can capitalize on the social aspect and expand their account offerings, they could shape the way people think about investing and change the landscape entirely.
Indeed, it’s an exciting product and one that is very easy to recommend!