Welcome cheapskates to an article that we’ve put together due to popular demand. Following on from our recent newsletter where we revealed our entire portfolio holdings in detail (if you haven’t already signed up for our newsletter, you really should by clicking HERE), we’ve decided to follow it up by revealing the exact platforms we use to trade and store our different investments. In this article, we will be revealing which apps and platforms we use to hold our cash, stocks, crypto and precious metals, what we look for in a platform and the reasons why we use them. So without further ado, lets get into our best of the best.
As always, the following is not financial advice, read our disclaimer
What we look for in a platform
So first off, lets cover some basics for the kind of features we look for in a platform concerning our wealth, regardless of the asset it holds. Almost all of our current investments are held in some sort of online wallet or platform, so its essential that the companies we use fit the bill.
The first thing we look for is – low fees. If it wasn’t already apparent, we like to keep costs down (we are cheapskates after all) so low / zero fees is something that we look for. It isn’t just to save a few pennies either, fees is one of the biggest contributors to drag when it comes to growing your wealth, especially over the long-term. Fractions of a percent when investing, extrapolated over the long term, even on modest portfolios can add up to thousands in lost money!
The second thing we look for in an investing platform is security. It’s absolutely essential that whatever we invest in, we can be confident that 1 – our money isn’t at risk of loss from hackers and the like, 2 – that the company in question meets the regulatory requirements and isn’t at risk of being shut down and 3 – in the event something were to happen, our money is protected or insured. You might be forgiven that all platforms operating in the UK finance space adhere to this pretty basic criteria, but you’d be wrong. In this ever changing financial landscape, you would be suprised by how many cowboy outfits and scams are continuing to operate!
Lastly, the platform in question needs to have the range of investments we need to be able to build a portfolio that has the best opportunity of growing, in particular the best ETF’s from across the world, a great range of US stocks, the ability to invest in precious metals and a decent range of cryptos and stable coins. There are a number of outlets these days that allow their users to trade stocks and crypto coins (even some challenger banks) but many of these offer a very limited range.
OK, first up is the largest part of our investment portfolio – stocks. When it comes to trading stocks (and ETF’s), because it represents such a large portion of our portfolio, we need to be extremely confident in our choice. So with the above in mind, there really can only be one winner. Yes, that’s right, the undisputed king of the UK retail investor scene is still, undisputed. We hold 100% of our stock holdings with T212.
Now, before we get into the main reasons we use T212, it’s worth noting at this point that new users CANNOT CURRENTLY OPEN AN ACCOUNT with Trading212. The reason for this, that T212 have cited, is that due to the unprecedented demand during the start of 2021 (following the gamestop saga), T212 have had to suspend new account opening whilst they work through the backlog and improve their infrastructure to deal with the demand. We get this and totally appreciate that they want to ensure they are providing a consistent service to existing and potential new customers – however it has been a number of months since this suspension was implemented. We hope that they open up new accounts soon, but in the meantime you can join the wait list using the link below:
We genuinely think it will be worth the wait (and we’re pretty sure the wait wont be long as T212 just completed a funding round to help them expedite the improvements required to onboard new customers) because in all honesty, we don’t believe there is any other platform out there that offers the level of service, range of stocks and low fees that are provided. Here’s a breakdown of why we chose to invest with T212:
Fees – as mentioned, T212 is still the cheapest place around to trade. In fact, unless you’re trading stocks in a different currency, it’s actually fee free (note, no trades are really free, check out our article HERE that explains this in more detail) and if you’re trading in a stock that’s listed in US dollars or Euros, T212 charge a 0.15% FX fee (which is again, the lowest around).
Range of stocks – T212 currently offer a ranage of X stocks. whilst this isnt quite as large as some of the more traditional brokerages like Hargreaves Landsdown (which offer X stocks), it is more than enough for your average (or even seasoned) investor and all of the most popular and important stocks are available. In contrast, T212’s main competitor freetrade offer a mere x stocks.
They offer a stocks and shares ISA – If you read our article HERE, you’ll know that we advocate using a stocks and shares ISA to hold your investments. This is due to tax and is usually enough for most retail investors to load up on stocks through the year and pay no tax on returns. On top of that, T212 do not charge a fee for offering this unlike many of it’s competitors
Feature rich – Another great thing about T212 is that for a ‘free’ investing app, it isn’t short of features! In fact, we think that T212 offer some of the best features on any platform. For example, T212 recently introduced a ‘pie’ feature, where you can create your own ready made portfolio (or copy someone else’s) and invest into that portfolio automatically every month. Features like this are usually paid, but not here. On top of the feature rich platform, T212 have managed to create an interface that is extremely easy to use and can be picked up easily by even the most novice investor.
Keeping things nice and simple, we also choose to (currently) hold our gold with none other than T212, through an ETC. Even though this ETC is strictly a stock, we categorise it differently in our portfolio because it follows the price of gold and responds differently to elements that effect the stock market.
If you’re unfamiliar with investing in gold on the stock market or why we chose to do so (spoiler alert, it’s cheaper) then you can check out our article HERE that goes into detail on this very subject, along with the other methods of investing in gold.
The actual ETC in question that we chose to invest in is the iShares Physical Gold ETC (LSE : SGLN). Again, the main reason for this is the price, because it works out as close to the spot price of gold as you can reasonably get your hands on. You can view our full article HERE that reviews this stock in full.
HOWEVER. Even though we hold our gold in an ETC in the stock market, we may soon be moving our ENTIRE gold holdings into a gold backed stable coin, specifically PAXG (Paxos gold). If you’re not sure what this is, a stable coin is a crypto currency that matches the price of another currency or commodity by being backed by that commodity. In the case of PAXG, every token represents 1 troy ounce of real gold held in a vault. This is what Paxos have to say about their token:
‘PAX Gold (PAXG) is a digital asset. Each token is backed by one fine troy ounce (t oz) of a 400 oz London Good Delivery gold bar, stored in Brink’s vaults. If you own PAXG, you own the underlying physical gold, held in custody by Paxos Trust Company.’
So why do this instead of using the ETC? After all, wouldn’t the fees on trading a token like this be more than the fee for the ETC? If you’ve asked this question, then you would be right, however there’s one important factor that swings it to PAXG. Because it’s a currency, you can hold it in places that will earn you interest on it, in some cases up to 12% per year! Now that’s gold we can get behind.
When and if we eventually move our funds (we’re still researching), we will update this article (and no doubt release an article on PAXG it’s self!).
Following in the same vein as the platform we use for holding stocks, it should come as no surprise that we use the cheapest and most popular crypto investing platform in the world to trade and store our crypto. That’s right, we’re talking about Binance. We use Binance not only to make most of our crypto trades, but also to earn interest, do crypto research and hold our 100% of our crytpo holdings (I know, I know, you true crypto hodlers will tell us that holding all of our coins online is super risky and we hear you! But with the level of security employed by the best platforms these days, we are pretty happy to hold our investments online (I mean, we hold our regular cash in online banks right?). Not only that, cold storage options are not the most convenient way to trade currencies and we feel that the only way the world can advance in this area, is with adoption.
If you’ve been living under a rock and have never heard of Binance, here’s the blurb:
Binance is an online exchange where users can trade cryptocurrencies and supports most commonly traded cryptocurrencies. Binance also provides a crypto wallet for users to store their different currencies as well as featuring services for users to earn interest and transact using cryptocurrencies. Binance is currently the largest exchange in the world in terms of daily trading volume.
Now, in a total violation of our above rule around security (well, more of a very small violation), as some of you may be aware, Binance have been under fire recently from multiple governments around the world around their operation. A number of central governments worry about the level of anonymity that Binance affords it’s users (you can use Binance by providing very little information, but becoming fully authenticated will allow users to use far more features and withdraw more funds). You can actually check out our live commentary of this developing issue HERE, but the long and short of it is we feel that Binance are going above and beyond to satisfy regulators around the world whilst at the same time trying to maintain a level of service to their customers and a level of decentralisation and anonymity that goes hand in hand with cryptocurrency. After all, isn’t the whole point of cryptocurrency to be detached from the traditional banking system? They also have industry leading security and a fund that protects users against losses. We talk about that in more detail HERE.
Here’s some of the reasons we use Binance:
Fees – Aaaaaaand once again, the main reason we use Binance is – low fees. Binance is – by quite some margin – the cheapest place we have been able to find to trade and store crypto. As a new user, your standard trade price will be 0.1% (0.075% if you pay the fees in BNB) and there is no charge for an account! Compared to other platforms (such as coinbase) this is extremely good value for money.
Range – As the most popular exchange in the world by volume traded, Binance as you would expect, supports an extensive range of crypto currencies. You can currently trade over 500 crypto currencies on the platform, so you’re sure to find the coin you’re after. All of these coins can be stored in your wallet right in the App.
Feature rich – Just like T212 (and even more so), Binance comes with an extensive range of features. In addition to buying and storing crypto currencies, Binance allows you to save (and earn interest), to stake (and earn GOOD interest, and if you aren’t sure what staking is, we have an article for that HERE), provide liquidity (we wont go into the detail on that here) and much, much more. Basically whatever you want to do with crypto, you can do it with Binance
Earn Money – As we mentioned above, Binance allows users to stake their crytpo (and save it) allowing them to earn interest. Sometimes this interest can be in the region of 50% depending on the coin you’re holding (though we tend to get around the 5 – 10% range on the crypto we hold), allowing you to supercharge your portfolio! Binance doesn’t strictly give the best interest always, but they are regularly the best across the board. This coupled with the breadth of currencies makes for a very powerful combo.
CASH (and stable coins)
The last part of our portfolio we hold is cash (and stable coins, which we consider cash equivalents and basically the same thing). Now, ordinarily we don’t like to keep a whole lot of cash in our portfolio because it is basically a loss making asset. This is due to inflation (we cover this in this article HERE where we talk about getting started in investing) chipping away at your wealth to the tune of 2-3% per year!
However, we all need to hold at least SOME cash, if nothing else but to pay for things that we need to function in our day to day lives (like paying a mortgage, buying food or paying for fuel. unfortunately not many places accept crypto…..yet). Full disclosure, we do hold a regular UK bank account (with Barclays as it goes, though we also use a Revolut account to fund some of our investing purchases) to run our day to day lives. This means that at least some of your day to day wealth will be eroded by inflation.
However, there are some other reasons you may want to hold some cash. Once reason is because you are a responsible investor and have an emergency fund. check out our article HERE that covers this concept in more detail. Another reason, is that you’re holding cash ready for a coming potential investing opportunity, like saving to buy that rental property or anticipating a stock market correction. So what can you do with this cash?
Well, recently we have seen the rise of crypto currency exchanges and wallets that also allow you to hold cash – and earn a reward for doing so. We think this is a great way to store cash that is sitting idle, especially as the interest you will earn from a bank on GBP is in the region of 0.05%.
Well, we choose to hold our cash with NEXO. we recently covered NEXO in an article HERE that goes into detail about why we chose to test it out and the benefits of using it. in short, Nexo is a digital wallet that allows you to store regular fiat cash like GBP, USD and EUR, but can also be used to store stable coins such as USDC, USDT and PAXG (see our article here about stable coins) and some crypto currencies.
By doing this, Nexo will allow you to earn interest just for holding your cash in this wallet – and good interest at that. Currently, just for having a base account with no frills, Nexo will give you 4% APY on your cash! If you’re prepared to lock that cash in for 3 months, Nexo will give you an additional 4%, meaning that your total APY is 8%! tell us which high street bank can offer that! What we choose to do, is hold 1/3 of our cash in the platform witha flexible 4% return, 1/3 in a 3 month lock for 8% and the other 1/3 as USDC stable coin for a flexible 8%. All of this means that were getting around 7% return on our free cash (though we only have access to 2/3 of it whilst some of it is locked up).
Here’s some of the reasons that we use Nexo:
Interface – The Nexo app is incredibly easy to use, which we feel is ideal for a platform we will need to access when we need quick access to cash
Euro Based – There are a number of platforms in this space (Celcius and BlockFi are some of the most popular) however Nexo is based in Europe. This is very important because they accept UK faster payment bank transfers, which are not accepted in Celcius or BlockFi. This is essential for transferring to and from the platform quickly and easily
ROI – As we said above, Nexo offer some of the best interest currently available to UK investors. In fact, you can theoretically earn up to 12% per year on your GBP! Though in order to do this, you need to hold some of your portfolio in NEXO token and have your interest paid in NEXO token. We currently choose not to do this so get a less, but still mighty 8%.
This is what we had to say about the Nexo platform when we reviewed it:
We’ve got to say, although we found some drawbacks with the loyalty system and the exchange feature – especially with crypto currencies, we’re really impressed with what Nexo are doing. This is a AAA platform with some awesome returns to boot and we will be using nexo to hold a portion of our portfolio for the coming months. We don’t think it can fully replace a comprehensive crypto app like Binance, but it is certainly a great add-on to our strategy, especially when we’re holding more cash than usual!
We hope to see a few things from Nexo over the coming year – namely more interaction with UK regulators and authorities, a card offering for UK users and maybe tighter spread on the exchange, but we’re exited to see what’s to come
And that’s it for today Cheapskates! Thanks for taking the time to read! You can let us lnow what you think about our choice of platforms by leaving a comment below or heading on over to Facebook to get in touch with us! Head on over to our investing section HERE for more investing, stocks and wealth articles!