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Direct forces claim majority of sales as July Isa figures dwindle

Isa sales have fallen for the fourth month in a row, according to Autif figures released this week.

Gross Isa sales in July were down by 12 per cent on the previous month to £703.2m from £795.5m. Sales have now fallen by more than 70 per cent since their peak of £2.4bn in March.

Although it is usual for the summer months to see a seasonal decrease in sales, this year has witnessed a particularly sharp tail-off, with Isa sales in July more than 13 per cent lower than Pep figures for the same period in 1998.

Despite the disappointing Isa results, sales of unit trusts and Oeics continued to increase. Net retail sales in July were up by almost 9 per cent on the previous month to £1.2bn, indicating an unusual increase in direct unit trust and Oeic investment without a tax-free wrapper.

July also marked a disappointing month for IFAs as they lost ground to tied agents and direct salesforces. IFAs accounted for 39 per cent of Isa sales, down from 42 per cent in June, while tied agents saw a 4 per cent increase to 42 per cent.

Plan Invest director Michael Owen says: “The decline in Isa sales is probably about 75 per cent seasonal but the other 25 per cent would be down to the market, which has been very lacklustre all summer. The increase in retail sales may be a sign that the population is becoming more sophisticated. Once they have reached their £7,000 Isa limit, it does not mean they cannot continue to invest in unit trusts.”


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