The way I’d sum up pies is a means to have a portfolio with as little emotion at play as possible. Cost averaging is the best way to make the actual returns of the market, lowering the risk of underperforming, but hence also reducing the chance of outperforming the market.
If you want complete control of your investments, auto-invest and pies doesn’t really help you there. Auto-invest (for now) will just buy instruments at the allocation you set for them. If you want to buy at the lows, self balancing pies (only through manual deposits) may work better. This is because in a balanced pie, if one stock drops £5 and the other goes up £5, putting £10 in will all go towards the fallen stock which is theoretically at a better value now.
If this still isn’t enough for you, you can manually invest the funds into whatever stocks you want. So you can go through your portfolio and pick which stocks you want to buy that day and allocate the funds only to then. This speeds up transactions, as you don’t need to place individual orders, just one collective order.
If you’re looking to buy at specific prices and watch the graphs etc., then pies aren’t going to help you do that. They’ll just buy with a market order as there are not limits in pies. But this doesn’t make pies completely useless. What you can do is use pies to organise your portfolio. You can make pies for sectors, or growth vs income for example. Then you can keep an eye on the balance of your portfolio. You can place the orders outside the pie and then just simply import the shares after.
So it all depends on your goals and your investing style. For me, as I show on my YouTube Channel, I basically cost average but I do like to find value sometimes. Pies stop me from buying an already overweight stock. And most weeks I just invest in all my stocks using self balancing (which doesn’t buy all my stocks, usually just 1-5 which are really underweight in my pie).
To answer your questions I didn’t fully touch on:
With auto-invest specifically, it will simply split your funds to their targets. And that’s it. You can rebalance to try get the pie to be balanced but that’s it. With manual deposits, you have that choice or self balancing or manual investing as I said above.
For your last question, I’m assuming you’re talking about dividends? If you turn dividend reinvestment on, then once your dividends reach the minimum deposits amount (see below) it will automatically buy more shares by the targets. If it doesn’t reach the minimum by your next deposit, the dividends will be invested along with the next deposit.
For the minimum amounts, each share requires a minimum of £0.20 to invest. . So if your smallest slice is 1%, then you’ll need £20 minimum, as £0.20 x 100 is £20.00. 0.5% x 200 is £40 etc.
I really hope this helps, pies are a great thing but I know they’re not for everyone, but they can assist your investing in a variety of ways!