ISA data highlights investment fear

The fear of stock markets continued last year, reflected in the level of ISA investments, research has shown.

Analysis carried out by Virgin Money indicated that cash ISAs were opened at around four times the rate of share ISAs. It used data from Customs & Revenue for the 2009-10 tax year, which showed 11.9 million cash ISAs were opened compared with three million shares ISAs.

Anyone putting £5,100 into a cash scheme would have had £145 paid back to them. The same amount put into the shares version would have seen a return of £593.

The average ISA investment was £4,155, HMRC said. This would have returned £483 through the Virgin Index Tracking Trust ISA, and £78 would have been returned through the average £2,731 cash ISA investment.

Annual growth rates for both types of scheme differed hugely: the average shares ISA was up 11.62% and the average cash ISA was up 2.85%.

Virgin Money spokesman Grant Bather said: "With cash ISAs outnumbering share ISA investment by four to one, it is clear savers have been put off the stock market as a result of the volatility seen over the past few years.

"Unfortunately investors don't have a crystal ball but it is important to consider the mix of cash and shares in your portfolio to ensure you are comfortable with the risk you are taking."

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