It's a good question, I am amazed how few people ask this. To summarise: is it really worth paying substantial fees to arrange a generic investment though your high street bank?
Almost certainly not.
However, one caveat:
You didn't mention what kind of fund(s) you want to invest in, or for how long. You also mention an “advice fee”. Are you actually getting financial advice – i.e. a personal recommendation relating to one or more specific investments, based on the investments' suitability for your circumstances – and are you content with the quality of that advice? If you are, it may be worth it. If they've advised you to choose this fund that has the potential to achieve your desired returns while matching the amount of risk you are willing to take, then the advice could be worth paying for. It entirely depends how much guidance you need.
Or are you choosing your own fund anyway? It sounds to me like you have done some research on your own, you believe the building society adviser is “trying to sell” a fund and you aren't entirely convinced by their recommendation. If you are happy making your own investment decisions and are merely looking for a place to execute that trade, the deal you have described via your bank would almost certainly be poor value – and you're looking in the right places for an alternative.
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On to the active-vs-passive fund debate:
That AMC of 1.43% you mention would not be unreasonable for an actively managed fund that you strongly feel will outperform the market.
However, you also mention ETFs (a passive type of fund) and believe that after charges they might offer at least as good net performance as many actively managed funds. Good point – although please note that many comparisons of this nature compare passives to all actively managed funds (the good and bad, including e.g. poorly managed life company funds). A better comparison would be to compare the fund managers you're considering vs. the benchmark – although obviously this is past performance and won't necessarily be repeated.
At the crux of the matter is cost, of course. So if you're looking for low-cost funds, the cost of the platform is also significant.
Therefore if you are comfortable going with a passive investment strategy, let's look at how much that might cost you on the platform you mentioned, Hargreaves Lansdown.
Two of the most popular FTSE All-Share tracker funds among Hargreaves Lansdown clients are:
(You'll notice they have slightly different performance btw. That's a funny thing with trackers. They all aim to track but have a slightly different way of trading to achieve it.)
To hold either of these funds in a Hargreaves Lansdown account you'll also pay the 0.45% platform charge (this percentage tapers off for portolio values higher than £250,000 if you get that far).
So in total to track the FTSE All Share with these funds through an HL account you would be paying:
- 0.10% + 0.45% = 0.55% with the Aberdeen example
- 0.07% + 0.45% = 0.52% with the HSBC example
This gives you an indication of how much less you could pay to run a DIY portfolio based on passive funds.
NB. Both the above are a 100% equities allocation with a large UK companies weighting, so won't suit a lower risk approach. You'll also end up invested indiscriminately in eg. mining, tobacco, oil companies, whoever's in the index – perhaps you'd prefer to be more selective.
If you feel you need financial advice (with Nationwide) or portfolio management (with Nutmeg) you have to judge whether these services are worth the added charges. It sounds like you're not convinced! In which case, all the best with a low-cost passive funds strategy.