An investment platform will provide a web site and/or mobile app that let's you trade in financial securities1.
Many will offer three different types of account:
- an ordinary account2 (sometimes called a trading account or general account)
- an ISA3
- a Self Invested Pension Plan
Most of the time each of these accounts will look exactly the same on the web site/app4. It is only the tax treatment that is different.
Examples of providers that support ordinary, ISA and SIPP accounts are
- AJ Bell
- Barclays Smart Investor
- Interactive Investor
There are many others out there.
Each of these providers has one investment platform with three account types (ordinary, ISA, SIPP) available. Buying and selling financial securities looks exactly the same in all three account-types.
ISAs and pensions are often described as providing a tax-protection wrapper5 around an account. What you have inside the wrapper (e.g. shares you have bought, cash you have earned) looks the same as an account that has no wrapper. But those with tax-protection wrappers are not liable for Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax [Note that withdrawals from a flexi-drawdown pension do have tax implications].
1Financial securities can be shares, ETFs, Investment Trusts, Unit Trusts, OEICs, Bonds, etc. Some platforms will limit which are available to buy/sell. Some may be very limited.
2Which is subject to Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
3This refers to Stocks & Shares ISAs, not Cash ISAs.
4The differences will be things like limits on subscribing money to ISAs (currently limited to £20,000 per year across all ISAs), limits on SIPP subscriptions (currently limited to lower of £40,000 per year and annual salary - and this limit is for the gross contribution including tax breaks). Another difference would be extraction of pension income from a SIPP which normally uses the PAYE system.
5Usually called a tax wrapper or just a wrapper.