Merrill Lynch HSBC, the online partnership between Merrill Lynch and HSBC, has designed a self-select stocks and shares Isa that allows investors to choose an unlimited number of individual stocks.
To gain access to this Isa investors must first open an account, the investment and banking portfolio, with the company. This can be completed online or by telephone. Those who already have an Isa with another provider can transfer to the self-select stocks and shares Isa and may reclaim up to £100 for any transfer penalties they incur.
The advantage of self-select Isas is that they allow clients to manage their portfolios themselves, without relying on the decision of fund managers. But, these products are usually expensive. For example, investors with Killik & Co's self-select Isa are charged £118 each time they buy an individual stock. The Merril Lynch HSBC product is cheaper as investors pay a flat fee of £24.95 every time they make a transaction.
Although investors can choose to hold an unlimited number of individual stocks within self-select Isas, they are still restricted by the £7,000 limit for maxi stocks and shares Isas.
Th Merrill Lynch HSBC Isa may be useful for investors who want to consolidate their existing Isa arrangements. However, some investors may prefer to invest through Oeics, unit trusts or investment trusts where a fund manager makes the investment decisions for them.