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Dismal cash savings rates spur equity ISAs

Record low interest rates are fuelling a stocks and shares ISA boom at one provider.

NFU Mutual has reported a surge in in interest of stocks-and-shares Junior ISAs, with nearly four times as many opened in January 2021 than January 2020.

The provider’s latest research also reveals that almost half of people (49%) have changed their attitudes to investing because of the global pandemic.

More people have also become interested in getting financial advice, according to the NFU customer survey, although fewer than one in five have received advice in the last three months.

Three in four people (74%) say low interest rates are the main reason for their change of heart on investing in stock markets.

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Traditionally most people have opted for ISAs. In the 2018/19 tax year NFU analysis found that of the 11.6m adult ISAs opened only 22% (2.42m) were stocks and shares ISAs.

NFU says it expects this ratio to change in the coming year with a survey of users suggesting many more plan to open equity ISAs, particularly Junior equity ISAs.

Out of the 569 respondents surveyed, 73% were confident in their future finances, even though some expect to have less disposable income in 2021 and also expect to save less as restrictions ease.

Some 17% of people plan to invest more compared to 12% who plan to invest less.

Despite the poor rates on cash savings NFU says many savers continue to put extra disposable income into cash accounts (41%), although some are moving their money into stocks and shares to try and counter the negative effects of inflation.

While interest in equity investing has grown, respondents to the survey with extra disposable income were still more likely to top up cash savings accounts (41%) than invest in stocks and shares (33%) or a pension (7%). Others were opting to pay more towards their mortgage.

Chris Hood, investment specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “This survey shows low interest rates on cash is having an impact on attitudes to investing.

“Some people are searching for better returns on the stock market but it’s still true that a significant number of people are using their disposable income to top up cash accounts.”

• NFU Mutual surveyed 569 of its customers in January/February.

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