Personal & Workplace Pensions

Charles Stanley SIPP review: will your retirement savings soar?

Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) give you the means to manage your own pension investments. Charles Stanley is a SIPP provider that offers different ways to invest and offers pension planning support. But are they any good?

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Charles Stanley SIPP review: will your retirement savings soar?
  • The Charles Stanley SIPP offers a blend of flexibility, professional support, and competitive costs.
  • You can choose a managed service or directly manage your investments yourself.
  • The provider offers competitive fees for its SIPP products.
  • Charles Stanley won 'Best SIPP Provider' at the 2024 COLWMA awards.

Charles Stanley SIPP: Frequently asked questions

  • Can I transfer existing pensions into a SIPP?

    Yes, you can consolidate existing pensions into a SIPP with Charles Stanley and then manage your pension investments. However, there will be some types of pension that are not advisable to transfer. For example, a workplace pension where your employer contributes or any schemes with guarantees or large exit penalties.

  • How much can I invest in a Charles Stanley SIPP?

    You can invest as much as you want, but you’ll only get tax relief on personal pension contributions on up to 100% of your UK earnings. Additionally, there is an annual contribution allowance of up to £60,000 depending on earnings for the tax year as well as if you have drawn any taxable retirement benefits already.

  • How do I withdraw money from my Charles Stanley SIPP?

    When you retire, you’ll have two options. You can either continue investing or take out money from your SIPP when you need it. Or you can use the money saved in your SIPP to buy an annuity that will guarantee you regular income for your life. Furthermore, you can usually take up to 25% of your SIPP as a tax-free lump sum with the remainder of the pot taxable under current rules.

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Pension Times. Commissions do not affect our writers’ or editors’ opinions or evaluations. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

When it comes to planning for retirement, you want to ensure you grow your money as much as possible so you have enough to live comfortably in your later years. Growing your money through a SIPP is one way to do that, but picking a provider can be daunting. The Charles Stanley Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) could be a suitable option given the number of key features and benefits the provider offers. 

But is it the right choice for you? 

Let’s explore the product’s details, looking at some common pain points along the way too.

What is a SIPP?

A SIPP is a type of personal pension. You may choose it if you don’t otherwise have a pension or if you would like greater control over your retirement savings in comparison to a workplace pension. Unlike traditional pensions, SIPPs allow you to choose exactly where your money is invested. They, therefore, can give you the flexibility to tailor your investments to your individual goals and risk tolerance.

The Charles Stanley SIPP also allows you to take advantage of a SIPP’s other key features, which we explore below.

Tax relief

The government offers tax relief on pension contributions, making it an attractive way to save for the future. For basic-rate taxpayers, the government adds 20% to whatever you contribute. If you’re a higher-rate or additional-rate taxpayer, you can claim up to an additional 20% or 25% through your tax return, respectively. So, for example, if you are an additional-rate taxpayer, a £1,000 contribution can effectively cost as little as £550 – providing a significant boost to your retirement savings.

Generous annual tax allowance

One of the main benefits of a SIPP is the generous tax allowance. These products allow you to contribute up to £60,000 per year. While this figure does depend on your total earnings for the tax year or whether you have already drawn any taxable retirement benefits, there’s usually a significant amount which will attract tax relief. Note that if you’ve started flexibly drawing down from a pension that your annual allowance will be tapered to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance, which is £10,000 in 2024/25. This means the total amount you can continue to contribute to your pensions – if you’re still working, for example – while receiving tax relief will be £10,000. 

Flexible drawdown options

When it’s time for you to retire, a SIPP provides flexible drawdown options. You can start accessing your money from the age of 55 (set to rise to 57 in the near future), with the option to withdraw up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum. Having flexible drawdown options means you can tailor your income to your retirement needs.

Diverse investment choices

A major advantage of SIPPs is the wide range of asset class options. With Charles Stanley, you can invest in:

  • Funds & ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds)
  • UK and Overseas Shares
  • Gilts & Government Bonds
  • Investment Trusts

Having a wide variety enables you to diversify your portfolio, potentially enhancing returns to beat inflation and spread risk, although there is also the risk that your chosen investments perform poorly. However, it also means taking on the responsibility for your investment choices. If you prefer not to manage this yourself, Charles Stanley offers professional advice and management services. 

The Charles Stanley SIPP

Charles Stanley offers two types of SIPP. Let’s quickly explore them here before going through the other benefits the company offers: 

  • The Charles Stanley Alpha SIPP
    • Available through their professionally managed investment services.
    • £250 annual administration charge.
  • Charles Stanley Direct SIPP 
    • Available through the direct investment service.
    • Costs £100 plus VAT, but Charles Stanley waives this charge if you have combined assets (excluding joint accounts) across the platform in excess of £30,000. 

Benefits of Charles Stanley SIPPs


Charles Stanley's platform is user-friendly, so whether you are a novice investor or far more experienced, you will be able to use it easily. Once your account is set up, the trading platform allows you to buy and sell assets with ease, ensuring you can manage and trade your portfolio actively should you choose. If you want to manage your investments yourself, you can do so through Charles Stanley Direct. Through the platform, you can build your own investment portfolio from a wide range of assets on offer.


The platform fee is competitive, capped at a maximum of 0.35%. Thanks to this cost-effective structure, combined with potential savings you could make through their loyalty program, you get good value for your money.

Investment options

It’s good to see the extensive range of investment options available through Charles Stanley. You can choose from a wide range of assets, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and government bonds. As a result, you can create a diversified portfolio that closely aligns with your financial goals and risk appetite.

Support and professional management

Charles Stanley offers bespoke and advisory investment services if you want professional guidance. A dedicated investment manager can help tailor your portfolio to your individual needs, considering your personal circumstances, investment objectives, and risk tolerance. The site also provides a wealth of information, including detailed insights, tips and guides, to help you make informed decisions.

Opening an account

We found opening an account with Charles Stanley straightforward. You can start the process online through their website or request a call back from a member of their team. Transferring existing pensions into the platform's SIPP is easy too. Charles Stanley offers support throughout the transfer process to ensure your investments and accounts are moved efficiently.

Addressing common pain points

It’s important for a provider to make your life easier and address common problems that occur when investing through a SIPP. 

Some of the common issues that Charles Stanley resolves are: 

Having little previous experience or knowledge

Like many others, you may find the world of pensions and investments daunting. What’s great about Charles Stanley is that, if you don’t have much experience in finance or knowledge of pensions or investments, there are a number of ways the company supports you. For instance, while you can open an online account to manage your investments directly, you can also request an in-person call back for personalised advice. Charles Stanley also provides access to financial professionals who can manage your investments on your behalf, ensuring your pension is in expert hands.

Lack of time

Managing investments takes time. In our modern world, you may find that you don’t have enough spare time to ensure your money is working as hard for you as possible. With Charles Stanley’s range of service options, you can choose the level of involvement that suits you best. The bespoke investment service comes with a dedicated expert to make decisions for you. The advisory investment service offers advice based on your circumstances and goals, while you can take some responsibility for your portfolio too - if that works for your situation. 

Service standards

Charles Stanley has a strong past reputation for service, evidenced by their award for 'Best SIPP Provider' at the 2024 COLWMA awards. They offer customers a range of services to ensure your experience is seamless, whether you’re managing your investments online or working with a financial professional. Their commitment to customer service means you can rely on timely, professional support when you need it.


Cost should always be considered when deciding on a SIPP provider. Charles Stanley’s platform fee is a maximum of 0.35%, plus you can make further potential savings through their loyalty program too. What’s great to see is that there is no minimum investment for their direct investment service, making it an option for most investors. For those opting to pay for professional management, there’s a minimum investment requirement of £200,000. This tiered approach allows you to select the service that best fits your financial situation and needs.

Holistic financial planning

If you want more than just a SIPP, you can create a wider portfolio through the other products offered by Charles Stanley. What we liked is that Charles Stanley can work with you to ensure that you use the full range of their products effectively by carefully designing a plan so you can look forward to financial freedom. They will work with you to ensure you are utilising the most tax-efficient saving strategies and adapt your plan if/when your circumstances change.

So, will your retirement savings soar?

The Charles Stanley SIPP is definitely an option for those seeking to take control of their retirement savings. It will allow you to make the most of the generous tax allowances SIPPs provide, but it also offers flexible drawdown options, and diverse investment choices. All these features combined make it a powerful tool for helping you build a secure financial future. Furthermore, by addressing common pain points, such as lack of knowledge and time constraints, Charles Stanley provides a solution that can be tailored to your own individual needs.

Whether you prefer managing your investments directly or want a professional to do that for you, Charles Stanley offers the flexibility and support to help your retirement savings grow. Investing in a SIPP is a significant decision, but with the right provider, it can be a game-changer for your retirement planning.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise. Investors may get back less than invested. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. Charles Stanley is not a tax adviser. Information contained in this article is based on our understanding of current HMRC legislation. Tax reliefs are those currently applying and the levels and bases of taxation can change. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each person or entity and may be subject to change in the future. If you are in any doubt, you should seek professional tax advice. Charles Stanley & Co. Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is part of the Raymond James Financial, Inc. group of companies.

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