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How to find the best SIPP provider

Updated 18 February 2021

4min read

Nick Green
Financial Journalist

Choosing a SIPP provider

If you’re planning to start a personal pension and are considering a SIPP, you need to find the right investment platform. Low cost is one big consideration, but not the only one, as this offers a restricted choice of funds. Here we take a wider look at your options and the best SIPP providers in the UK.

Why choose a self-invested personal pension?

A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) provides you with control and flexibility, plus of course the tax relief you can expect when saving into a pension scheme. A SIPP is a special type of private pension, in that you can choose in detail where your funds are invested, and even what individual assets to invest in. It’s also a way to bring together pensions from different employers, consolidating small pension pots in one place. SIPPs are also a favourite among the self-employed, for the independent control they offer.

What should you look for when comparing SIPP providers?

The first element to consider is choice. Just how much freedom of choice do you want when it comes to selecting a range of investments?

Often, a low-cost SIPP is not about wide choice. It tends to be based around a limited range of funds. To broaden your choices, look at providers who invest in funds, stocks and shares. These are likely to be more expensive, but can still be good value. And if you would like to get the maximum range of investment choice allowed by the taxman, you’ll need to seek out providers who offer ‘full SIPPs’.

Remember when choosing between SIPPS providers to compare their charging structures. The platform fee charged by most companies, for example, is usually a percentage of your assets, but can be a fixed amount. Do a like-for-like comparison on charges such as transfer fees, early-closure fees and trading over the phone too. These can vary considerably.

Below we’ve collated some information about the most popular SIPP providers in the UK. However, when making your choice of provider, and when setting up your pension in general, it’s strongly recommended that you consult an independent financial adviser (IFA) who can guide you to the best options for your circumstances.

Who are the best SIPP providers?

Here are some of the top SIPP providers in the UK, with some at-a-glance facts and figures for comparison.

 

Provider

Platform fee

Key strength

Best for

Costs

Aviva

Up to 0.4%

Competitive pricing and great online and app usability

Award-winning customer experience

 

-

 

Barclays

0.2%

One of the lowest cost SIPPs

Regular share traders

£125 a year on shares portfolio

£3 per fund trade deal

£6 per share trade

£90 exit fee

Close Brothers Asset Management

0.25%

Top value full service SIPP

People who want low cost but good investment choice

£8.95 for share deals

ii SIPP

Flat monthly fees

Low cost

People with large portfolios

Monthly charge between £9.99 and £19.99

Vanguard SIPP

0.15%

investment fund fee from 0.06%

Cheapest option

Investors looking for the lowest charges

-

How should you choose what to buy in a SIPP?

Think of your SIPP as a kind of wrapper that is designed to contain your chosen investment options. Its overall performance will be driven by your investment choices. One of the good things about a SIPP is that, unlike a company pension, it gives you the freedom to invest directly in stocks and shares, investment funds and commercial property. It’s a true DIY pension.

Choosing what to invest in will be influenced by key factors such as:

  • Your level of investment experience, financial knowledge and confidence
  • Whether your provider offers a smaller fixed range of investments or a wider, more flexible portfolio – SIPP companies have different funds and diverse investment strategies 
  • Your financial circumstances and expectations

The options for investment when creating your own personal SIPP include these markets:

  • Bonds
  • Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • Permanent Interest Bearing Shares
  • Personalised Pension Funds
  • Shares in the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) and FTSE

The key to choosing what to buy for your SIPP is research. Get to know the providers and what they offer. Explore the risks and benefits of each market sector and fund type. This is another good time to speak to an IFA, as they can guide you towards the ideal balance of risk and security, and also manage everything for you if you wish.

What happens to your SIPP on retirement?

A SIPP can help to make your move into retirement more flexible, because it gives you plenty of options when it comes to taking money out of your pension. You can start doing this from the age of 55, though it’s best to wait longer and let your pension grow for as long as possible.

All the usual ways of taking your pension apply to SIPPs. Broadly, these are:

A tax-free lump sum of 25% – you can a quarter of your pension pot tax-free before deciding what to do with the rest of it.

An annuity – you exchange your pension pot for a guaranteed income for life.

Drawdown – your pension pot is invested in a fund from which you can draw a flexible income. This may give you a higher income than an annuity, but there is also a risk of lower income if the stock market performs poorly. Your pot can even run out altogether.

Can you transfer existing pensions to a SIPP?

You can move existing pensions into a SIPP, with the exception of some final salary pensions. A SIPP can be a good way to consolidate your pensions from previous employments and so keep track of all your savings in one place.

How can a financial adviser help me find the right SIPP?

A well-invested pension pot is the key to a secure retirement. That’s why it pays to seek out an IFA when considering a SIPP. They can help you create your made-to-measure pension.

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About the author
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.