Puny cash ISAs
With rubbish interest rates and up to £1,000 of interest in a bog standard savings account now tax-free, unsurprisingly the appeal of the cash ISA has slumped. Brits have paid in one-third less into these this year, sticking in less than £40 billion and our savings rate is now the lowest ever recorded – a puny 1.7%. £1.70 out of every £100 earned. Ouch.
I do keep banging on about it but stocks and shares ISAs are the obvious long-term alternative and our options increase every week. This week I opened another test account with new player Moo.la and reviewed the new Barclays service and Fidelity’s upgrade.
Testing Moo.la and online quizzes
Moo.la is the latest ‘ robo adviser’ to hit the UK. You can start with just £50 and the process was simple enough. I answered a few basic questions which make sure that we’re able to invest (do I have at least 3 months’ savings in cash, can I cope with the idea of investing online, will I have a hernia if I hear reports of stock market falls) and then it gets a bit ‘gamified’. We see 6 dice, and – for example - if it lands on 1 I lose £100 and if it lands on any other number I gain £30. Would I do it? And so on. Testing how much we hate the idea of losing money more than we like the prospect of gaining money. It was nice and easy enough and the supporting materials are clear to digest. I didn’t like handing over my £50 and then seeing nothing and being told it would take up to 2 weeks to see something in my portfolio screen as they set to investing the money.
Anyone thinking about investing should try a few of these ‘robo advice’ quizzes. Yes we can get smartypants about it and I think the process is arguably imperfect and flawed BUT they do ask the right questions and help you to contextualise your decisions. I’d suggest having a squizz at Moneyfarm or Scalable Capital’s questionnaires. They are probably the most thorough of the available online quizzes. You can see our robo adviser reviews here or read up more on our robo advisers guide.
The updated Leaderboard
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Of those ISA providers with a decent number of reviews, Charles Stanley remains the one you’re most likely to recommend. Barclays went live this week, bring its investment service into the fold as it is now accessed from the main Online Banking page. The simplified and clearer-looking website seems to have irritated its traditional stockbroking customer base - you can read their reviews here. I’ve also had a few calls from journos investigating reader complaints. To be fair, we all struggle with change when it’s hoisted upon us – think Microsoft upgrades. But I couldn’t even open most of the pages when I logged in (oops). Let’s leave it there as I imagine a whole floor of IT bods in Canary Wharf have had a week from hell and are being whipped as I write. Let’s put it down to teething problems. You can read a fuller review of Fidelity’s upgrade and Barclays here.