The news: The UK-based digital trading platform announced it has reached the milestone of £1 billion ($1.28 billion) AUA after passing the 1 million user mark last month, per AltFi.
What’s behind the growth? Freetrade established itself as one of the dominant UK retail brokerages.
- It’s the second-largest retail brokerage on the London Stock Exchange as measured by number of trades, following financial services giant Hargreaves Lansdown.
- It quadrupled its users to 1 million in October year over year.
Freetrade sought to consolidate its stellar growth through a series of new initiatives over the past year. It rolled out its premium offering, moved into pensions, and struck up a partnership with Monzo.
- Freetrade launched its paid Plus account, which for £9.99 a month lets users access stocks not available to non-paying customers—such as from the FTSE All-Share.
- Its Self-Invested Personal Pension product lets users make their own investment decisions by directly picking which stocks to invest in and generally managing their portfolios.
- Freetrade’s recent partnership with Monzo will serve as a marketing opportunity to the neobank’s premium user base. Monzo’s paid users receive three free shares when they sign up with Freetrade.
Looking ahead: As global retail trading volumes slow down, European trading platforms will race against each other to spread across markets and become the first to scoop up users.
- Freetrade is pushing ahead with plans to expand into new markets: It's already opened its waitlist in France and is expected to launch in Sweden and the Netherlands next year.
- But expanding to a single or just a few European markets might not be enough by itself to spur sustained user growth. The propensity to actively trade is less ingrained in European retail investors than in US investors: 52% of US households invest in the stock market, compared to 33% in the UK and 15% in Germany.
- Established digital trading platforms, like Trade Republic and Bux, will likely pursue aggressive expansion strategies across European markets where a dominant player has yet to prevail, such as in the Nordic countries and France.