Net Isa sales in March were more than double February's level at £496m and 21 per cent higher than March 2003, according to IMA figures.
Net retail sales through tied agents accounted for 46 per cent compared with 36 per cent from intermediaries. The balance was made up of direct-offer sales at 12 per cent and sales through private stockbrokers at 5 per cent.
IFAs have shown a 7 per cent increase during the year, with 29 per cent of net retail sales while tied channels have fallen from 53 per cent to 47 per cent over the same period.
Net Isa sales from April 1 to April 5 were £247m, which brought sales for the 2003/04 tax year to £3.6bn compared with £4.1bn for 2002/03.
Isa repurchases in March 2004 rose to £349.5m from £165m in March 2003. Total retail fund repurchases hit a very high level of £2.7bn, a rise of £1bn on February this year and March last year.
IMA chief executive Richard Saunders says: “Isa sales in March were stronger than last year although they were well below their peak in 2000. Investors have been returning to funds since the middle of last year and to equities over the last six months. That trend is continuing.”
Bates Investments senior investment adviser Paul Ilott says: “This is partly a response to investors becoming more discerning about where they go for advice.”