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You can hold shares in a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP), Stocks and shares ISA, Dealing account or Junior ISA. By buying a share, you become a shareholder in a company. Shares in listed companies are traded on exchanges, and you can buy and sell them online.
Share prices move up and down according to the performance of the company and its plans for the future, and also move with the market in general. They can be influenced by global news, and by news specific to their industry.
Investing directly in shares requires a fair bit of research and reading up on the company and with hundreds of different listed companies available this can feel quite overwhelming. Luckily, we have plenty of research available free to customers including investment articles and videos, lists of the top buys and sells and for customers with an account balance of over £4,000, a free access to Shares magazine.
In the UK, listed companies are traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). They can be listed on the main market, or if they are smaller companies, they can be listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). There are fewer regulations for companies wishing to join AIM than LSE, so as a result they can be riskier investments.
Indices are used to track the performance of individual markets. For example, the FTSE 100 tracks the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange. This gives an indication of how the top of the market is doing, while the FTSE 250 tracks the next 250 largest. For a broader look at the market, you can look at the FTSE 350 (the two combined), or the FTSE All Share, which tracks not quite all, but 98% of the companies listed on the LSE.
If you are looking to invest in international shares we offer dealing in over 24 markets including the US, Canada and most European markets.
Certain investments – which involve a high degree of risk – are described as complex financial instruments. Before dealing in these for the first time, you should read up on the risks involved. You'll also need to complete an online test.
Shares can be bought and sold online through our website or app when the market is open - for UK shares this is between 8:00am and 4:30pm. Outside of these times you can place limit and stop loss orders which allow you to specify the price you are willing to buy or sell. Many overseas markets have different hours – for US and Canadian markets you can deal online between 2:30pm and 9pm.
How to buy and sell shares
You can find the company you are interested in dealing in by using the site search on our website and following the link to the company's research page which includes the current price, historical price chart and research.
It is simple to buy and sell shares online. You’ll receive a quote from the market, which is the best price you can get at that point in time. You’ll generally have 15 seconds to confirm your order at that price, and once completed you will receive a contract note with all the details of your deal. To view our costs for dealing and holding shares please .
Many companies will pay out income to their shareholders and these are called ‘dividends’. The amount of the dividend depends on the profits of the company and they are normally paid twice a year as an ‘interim’ and ‘final’ dividend. The date the dividend is paid varies from company to company and there is no guarantee that a company will continue to pay dividends. Many smaller companies do not pay any dividends at all. You can find out more about receiving dividends by visiting our FAQs.
If you are due a dividend from a share that you hold in your portfolio we will pay this into your account as cash and send you a secure message to let you know. We offer a dividend reinvestment service which allows you to reinvest your dividends back into the company, increasing your holding.
You may not want to invest a large chunk of money straight away in shares, but you can build your portfolio over time by using our regular investment service. This allows you to save from just £25 a month, and we’ll automatically buy more shares with this at the same time each month. You can easily set it up and amend your choice online, plus you’ll benefit from a dealing charge of just £1.50.