Editor: Happy Birthday ISA! Now Tidy Your Room!

Like any 25 year-old, ISAs are being asked to grow up, move out of the family home, and do their own laundry for a change. Are they ready?

Ollie Smith 25 March, 2024 | 3:38PM
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Ollie Smith: What were you doing in 1999? Me, I was, er, 7. Kenan & Kel were on the telly, Mambo No. 5 was in the charts, and Freddos cost 10p. Life was good.

But. Something more serious was going on in Whitehall. No, not Peter Mandelson and the Millenium Dome saga. Not even John Prescott and the debacle over the privatisation of air traffic control.

The ISA.

That's right, 6 April 2024 is the 25th anniversary of the launch of the humble Individual Savings Account. And there's plenty to celebrate.

By the Treasury’s reckoning, the combined value of all adult ISAs was around £741.6 billion in 2022. It's a colossal success story. The ISA has become a great vehicle for Britain's savers to park their cash, and, hopefully, some tax-sheltered equity returns too.

But 25 years on, there are some big questions to answer. Like any young person celebrating their mid-mid-century, the demands of maturity are bearing down.

In this case, rather than urging ISAs to move out of the family home, get a job, and start doing their own laundry, policy makers are asking this.

Does the general public know enough about ISAs? Does it know enough about finance full stop? And, in an era of seemingly ambitious additions to the ISA product range, has it all, frankly, become a bit too complex?

And that’s just the start. This week, we’ll answer all your burning questions. From best ISA rates to ISA taxation and costly errors, we’re here to explain. But we’ll also ask what more can be done to put stocks & shares investing front and centre – and even revitalize that beleaguered British stock market. Is the ISA the answer to that? Perhaps not.

Sorry to be a party pooper.

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Ollie Smith

Ollie Smith  is editor of Morningstar UK

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