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Choosing the best ISA

If you’re looking for a simple, tax-efficient way to grow your money on the financial markets, a stocks and shares ISA is probably for you. Yet, with several different options available, how can you know which is the best ISA for you? Here are five things to look out for when deciding which ISA is for you.

Choosing the best ISA – Summary Table

❓ Types of ISAThere are five
Cash ISAs
Stocks and shares ISAs
Innovative finance ISAs
Junior ISA
Lifetime ISAs
🏅 How to choose the best one?Get advice from financial experts
😕 Is there THE best one?There is the best one FOR YOU
🔁 Can I change ISA if I’m not happy with it?Yes, absolutely!

It might seem like the ISA landscape is complex due to the number of options available, but the good news is that it’s quite simple. The best ISAs are essentially just savings or investment accounts that allow you to grow your money tax-free.

Ordinarily, when you sell your investments, you’d be required to pay tax on any profit you make above your annual capital gains tax allowance, and on any income you earn above the dividend allowance. However, if you put it in an ISA, you don’t have to pay a thing.

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What types of ISAs are there?

The different types of individual savings account available include the cash ISA, stocks and shares ISA, Lifetime ISA, and Innovative Finance ISA. Each ISA account plays its part in reliable financial planning.

Cash ISA

Cash ISAs are tax-free savings accounts, and they are an attractive choice for savers looking to save for short term needs and emergencies. It’s also great if you’re looking to build a nest egg for retirement. You can withdraw money early and replace funds from some cash ISAs such as flexible cash ISA without affecting your annual ISA allowance limit.

You can only open and fund one cash ISA per tax year, but you can own have multiple. You can choose between easy access cash ISAs and fixed-rate cash ISAs. Easy access cash ISA can be the best ISA for people who want instant access to their money, while fixed-rate cash ISA might be the best ISA for people who want short-term maturity and better interest rates.

If you are saving for your child’s education, the best cash ISA would be the tax-free Junior cash ISA account. Cash ISAs are among the best ISA accounts for people with low-risk appetites. Different cash ISA providers offer different interest rates. Finding providers with the best ISA rates is essential if you want to open a cash ISA account.

Lifetime ISA

Lifetime ISA is a great investment option for people who want to save money for a long time. Adults under the age of 40 can open up a lifetime ISA. It allows them to invest money for up to 10 years and get a tax break when they withdraw the money. The government adds 25% to all investments made inside a LISA. With the government stimulus, this means that if you put £4,000 in your LISA every tax year, you’ll get a £1,000 tax-free bonus.

You can choose whether to invest in stocks and shares or cash into a LISA. If you are saving to buy a house, then the best ISA will be cash LISA as it might be better than putting money in a volatile stock market investment. If you are saving for retirement, the best ISA would be the stocks and shares LISA.

Innovative Finance ISA

Innovative Finance ISAs are a great way to invest in peer-to-peer lending or crowdfunding using your tax-free ISA allowance. There is an ISA limit on an innovative finance ISA, but remember, if there are other ISAs in your name, they all contribute to this amount.

Returns on investments within an innovative financing ISA are higher than those within a traditional savings account, but there is no protection from financial compensation schemes. So, it’s important to remember that when investing in this type of account, it comes with more risk than a traditional savings account.

Stocks and shares ISA

Stocks and shares ISAs are tax-efficient accounts that act as wrappers for your investments. You can invest in companies directly or through managed funds. Managed funds are pooled arrangements run by professionals who manage money for other people. This investment ISA puts your money in stocks, bonds, funds, and other assets. As a result, it is among the best ISAs used to diversify investments.

Stocks and shares ISAs are riskier than cash ISAs, and they offer higher returns. You can only open one account per tax year, but you can own several simultaneously. Also, you won’t be able to contribute to more than one stocks and shares ISA account at a time per year. Stocks and shares ISA come with tax benefits. Income tax does not apply to the interest earned on bonds and other investment products held inside an ISA. If you keep your investment in stocks and shares ISAS, there’s no need to pay tax on any dividends.

Also, you don’t pay capital gains tax when you invest money into them. You also don’t need to report your profits if you sell some of your investments. However, you do need to make sure you keep records of what you’ve bought and sold.

There is an annual allowance of £20,000. So each tax year, you can invest up to £20,000 into your stocks and shares ISA, although you can spread your allowance between different types if you wish.

If you’re fed up with the returns available on savings accounts due to the low-interest-rate environment, you might want to protect and grow your money on the financial markets. Of course, you should have paid off any expensive debt, have three months of outgoings saved up in case of an emergency, and have a longer time horizon before you start investing, but once you do, you can plan for the future with confidence. Investing for your retirement, for example, is an excellent choice.

Due to the fundamental dynamics of the financial markets, you need to be able to take on some risk if you want to grow your money for the future. If you’re looking to grow your money for something in the next two years, you’ll want to protect the value of your money so you can reach your goals. So naturally, your portfolio will be more risk-averse, limiting the scope for return.

Time can be your best friend when investing – many people hunt for that elusive edge that will help them reach their goals, the ‘holy grail’, but all you need is time. Time allows you to take on those riskier investments in the hope for more significant returns, which means you can ride out any short-term fluctuations.

Here are the five things you should look for to find the best ISA for you.

1. Investment advice

Stocks and shares ISAs are often DIY vehicles, which means you’ll have to manage your investments yourself. You have the flexibility to choose what goes into your portfolio. However, you are responsible for planning your investment strategy, outlining your asset allocation, and researching the investments that best reflect you to go into your portfolio.

Many people like this freedom, but for those who are too busy to manage their investments by themselves or lack the financial confidence to oversee the family finances, investment advice can help people make better decisions with their money.

Making the right decisions for your financial situation means you’re more likely to reach your financial goals, whatever they may be, and lead a better quality of life.

Innovation in the financial services sector means that people can now access investment advice at the touch of a button and at a fraction of the price offered by traditional industry leaders. It can also be delivered anywhere and at any time, whether on your daily commute, over a glass of wine once the kids are in bed, or over brunch on the weekend.

Investment advice helps people invest in a way that’s right for them. Understanding your financial background, appetite for risk, and nature of your financial goals means you can build your investment portfolio in the best way to achieve these.

At Moneyfarm, our technology allows us to provide expert digital investment advice for a fraction of the cost, with ongoing suitability tests that ensure your investments continue to put you in the best position to reach your goals for as long as you invest with us.

2. ISA portfolios fully managed by specialists

Once you know what your stocks and shares ISA portfolio should look like in terms of asset allocation, how do you decide which investments to put in it?

Once you’ve got your portfolio set up, do you have the time and discipline to manage your portfolio to ensure you’re on the right track? You can invest up to £20,000 in your ISA each year, so you’ll want to know you’re investing in the best place to reach your goals.

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Many people love the thrill and responsibility of managing their investments themselves, but others just don’t have the time, skill, or knowledge to do their financial future justice. That’s why many prefer the experts to do it for them, so they can focus on the important things in life, knowing that a team of professionals with a track record of performance have their investments under control.

At Moneyfarm, our investment strategy is built around our strategic asset allocation team, which takes a 10-year view on market trends. While we can broadly forecast where we’re going to be in a decade, we know the route there might not be smooth, so we complement our strategic strategy with a tactical overlay to take advantage of any new opportunities that arise along the way.

3. Don’t let fees eat into your returns

Traditionally, having an expert manage your money for you has come at a high cost. The more you pay in fees, the more your investments have to grow for you to break even, and the further they need to grow to make a profit.

It doesn’t help that pricing structures have also traditionally been convoluted, with many investors unaware of how much they’re actually paying in fees. All investors should be able to access cost-effective investment advice and discretionary fund management to help them reach their financial goals.

Thanks to changes in the regulatory landscape, wealth managers now have to adopt Moneyfarm’s philosophy of transparency and simplicity, although look out for exit fees as these still aren’t clear on many platforms. When you invest with Moneyfarm, you’re charged one flat fee across all of your investments with us, a percentage that goes down the more you invest or, the more your savings grow.

4. Free transfers

Whether you’ve built up a small fortune in a cash ISA or have several different stocks and shares ISAs cumulated up over the years, many investors like to transfer their ISAs into one place to benefit from cheaper fees and to manage their investments more efficiently.

When you want to move your money from one ISA provider – whether it be a bank, an asset manager or an investment platform – to another, it’s important you transfer your money correctly. You don’t want to take your money out of your ISA wrapper because you will lose the tax-free benefits you’ve accrued over the years.

ISA transfers have become hassle-free and straightforward for investors looking to make their money work harder for them. However, it’s important you understand whether you’ll be charged anything to move providers as this could impact your decision.

Whether hidden or not, costs like transfer fees can eat into an investor’s return. At Moneyfarm, we believe investors should be able to transfer in and out for free – and you can. One of our founding philosophies was to be transparent over costs, which is why we don’t have any hidden charges.

5. Regular investing

When you’ve got a lump sum to invest, you’ll want to get it working harder for you as soon as possible, but it’s important you supplement this with a regular investment to your ISA.

In addition to increasing the amount you have invested in your ISA, it also averages out the amount you spend for an investment over time, potentially lowering it during times of volatility. Little and often is a mantra that’s as effective as it is straightforward when it comes to investing.

That means you could end up paying less for an asset, which makes it that much easier to turn a profit.

Regular investment plans are a great way to benefit from pound cost averaging, but make sure you know how much setting up and running a standard investment plan will cost you. At Moneyfarm, it doesn’t cost a thing to deposit money in your account or set up a standing order.

This means you keep more of your money invested in the market, which can help you benefit from compound interest – where your earnings are reinvested to earn their own return. Albert Einstein called this the eighth wonder of the world, and it can make a real difference over the long run.

Which ISA to choose?

At Moneyfarm, we’ve built our investment strategy around the stocks and shares ISA. Of all the options like cash ISA, lifetime ISA and junior ISA, it’s the stocks and shares ISA that we feel is the best ISA for most people.

We recently performed a 10-year study comparing the performance of a hypothetical stocks and shares ISA vs that of a cash ISA. Against the backdrop of a low-interest environment, it’s clear to us that a well-diversified, actively managed stocks and shares ISA is the best choice for our customers to beat inflation and protect and grow their wealth for the long term.

You don’t need to be an expert to invest in stocks and shares, and you certainly don’t need hundreds of thousands of pounds to do it. Digital technology has democratised the industry to such a degree that almost anyone should be considering supplementing their futures with a well-thought-out investment plan. So, you’ll want to choose an ISA provider and a wealth manager that utilises technology to make the process as frictionless and transparent as possible.

Here is our comprehensive guide for the full breakdown of what an ISA is and how to invest in one. Furthermore, if you want to understand how stocks and shares ISA work, you can find more information here.

How to switch ISA provider

As we have discussed, people switch the ISA provider for several reasons. Whether it’s because their current provider isn’t giving them the returns they need, or they want to have all their investments in one, easy to manage place – switching is more common than you might think.

If you’re unsure whether it’s time to move your ISA, here’s a simple checklist.

• Is the return on your ISA lower than inflation? The purchasing power of your savings could be shrinking over time. You might want to think about a stocks and shares ISA.
• Not finding the time to manage your money? You could be missing out on the important things in life because it’s taking you hours to manage your savings or investments. A provider like Moneyfarm does it all for you.
• Are fees eating into your returns? Your ISA could be costing you a small fortune, or you’re not even sure what you’re paying. Fees should be simple and low-cost.

You can transfer any type of ISA to Moneyfarm, whether it’s a cash ISA or a stocks and shares ISA. If you’re transferring an ISA in the same tax year, you’ll have to move the whole thing. With older ISAs, you can choose how much you want to transfer.

It can take up to 30 days to transfer your stocks and shares ISA from your existing provider to Moneyfarm. We won’t charge you anything to transfer to or from Moneyfarm, but your current provider might.

To initiate a transfer, all you have to do is get in touch with a member of our investment advisory team. They’ll be happy to guide you through the entire process from start to finish, and they’ll take care of the admin for you. Get peace of mind that your ISA is in the right hands when you switch to Moneyfarm.

FAQ

What is the best ISA at the moment?

There is no best ISA. You have to choose the best ISA based on your investor profile. Nevertheless, research has shown that a well-diversified investment is the best option.

How do I choose an ISA?

You choose an ISA based on your risk tolerance and financial goals. Other factors that can help include investment timeframe, investment involvement, investment platform services, investment platform fees and charges, fund accessibility, etc.

What are the best performing ISA funds?

Some of the best performing ISA funds include Invesco UK Opportunities (UK) Z Acc, Vanguard FTSE UK Equity Income Index Acc GBP, Schroder Income Z Acc, and Allianz UK Listed Opportunities C.

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As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Moneyfarm can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.