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Words of comfort for fund managers

The Chancellor once again made much of his desire to be prudent and responsible and made some, if not all, the right noises to encourage more people to save more in the future.

Those who had hoped stamp duty might be abolished, or at least reduced, were roundly disappointed and people who had believed that the demise of Isa mini/maxi product layering was imminent were left holding their breath.

There were two comforts on the Isa front. First, the overall ceiling for Isas is to be maintained at the £7,000 level for one whole year and, second, not announced in the speech but to be found in the Budget documents, the likely closer alignment of Pep and Isa rules. Both will be very popular moves with fund managers.

Statistics from the Treasury demonstrate that £17bn has gone into Isas in their first nine months. Equivalent figures from Autif covering the same period indicate gross sales of £5.49bn.

While £8.2bn is accounted for by money going into the Isa cash element, the £9bn in the stocks and shares component is significantly higher than might have been envisaged.

This suggests that the unit trust/Oeic industry has achieved just over 60 per cent of that part of the Isa market and yet it had dominated the Pep market, accounting for some 80 per cent of all Peps by value.

There is no doubt that Isas are starting to find a place in the public consciousness.

As such, they represent a sound financial stepping stone for new investors making their first moves into long- term savings.


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