Since Gordon Brown introduced Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) in 1999, they have become one of the UK’s most popular savings vehicles.
The most recent figures showed that more than 11 million adults subscribed to an ISA in 2018/19, with a staggering £584 billion currently invested in the tax-free accounts.
Considering that the annual subscription limit for an ISA is £20,000, it might seem as if becoming an ISA millionaire is a pipe dream. However, the UK’s three biggest investment platforms say they have a combined 1,365 ISA millionaire clients between them.
So, how can you amass a seven-figure sum in your ISA?
Rising ISA limits mean it’s easier to become a millionaire than ever before
Considering that the maximum amount an individual could contribute to an ISA was just £7,000 for the first nine years of their existence, the fact that more than 1,000 people have amassed more than £1 million in just 22 years is quite an achievement.
On average these investors have achieved annual growth of more than 14% since making their first contribution back in 1999.
Nowadays, the fact that you can invest £20,000 in an ISA means it’s theoretically easier to become an ISA millionaire than it ever has been.
If you maximised your contributions over a period of 21 years, you’d now just need to achieve an annual growth rate of 7% to hit £1 million (assuming the allowance doesn’t change).
Of course, not everyone will find it possible to pay the maximum into an ISA each year. So, here are some tips which could help you reach the magic £1 million mark.
Consider investing rather than keeping your money in cash (but bear in mind equity investments do not afford the same capital security as deposit accounts)
A quick glance at the “best buy” tables for Cash ISAs at the moment shows you will be lucky to achieve an interest rate above 0.5% on an easy-access ISA or 1.25% on a fixed-rate product.
If you achieved a 1% annual return on your Cash ISA, you contributed the maximum £20,000 each year, and the allowance doesn’t change, it would take you 40 years for the value of your savings to reach £1 million (figures calculated via calculator.net).
One common characteristic of the ISA millionaires referenced above is that they all invested their money in equities. While this may have put their savings at risk, the returns over the last 22 years have outperformed cash savings.
As an example, if you manage 5% annual investment growth you would hit the million-pound mark in 25 years with £20,000 invested each year.
According to the data, the average age of the 1,365 ISA millionaires is around 70, underlining the fact that most of them will have taken decades to get there.
Most of these people will have built up their savings by investing for the long term – a “get rich slow” approach.
If you have a long-term plan, stick to it, and invest as much as possible in a balanced and diverse portfolio, you’re typically more likely to reach your goals.
Becoming a millionaire takes time. If you want to achieve it overnight, there’s a TV show for that.
Stay calm during periods of uncertainty
Since ISAs were introduced in 1999, we’ve had the dotcom bubble, the global financial crisis, and the volatility caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, more than 1,000 investors have still grown their ISA savings to seven figures.
We have talked before about why it’s “time in the markets not timing the markets” that matters. We’ve discussed why staying invested is generally a better strategy than trying to predict when to buy and when to sell.
Today’s ISA millionaires have experienced many ups and downs. They show that staying calm and not trading in and out of the stock market can lead to positive outcomes. Ride out tough times, continue to maximise your investments, and stick to your long-term plan.
Helping your child or grandchild to become an ISA millionaire
If you’re already maximising your own ISA savings, you could also consider helping your child or grandchild to become an ISA millionaire of the future.
If you invested the maximum £9,000 in a Junior ISA on the birth of a newborn, then invested the same amount each year for 18 years (assuming the allowance didn’t change), and you achieved a 5% annual return, the ISA would be worth £287,510 when the child is 18 (figures from calculator.net).
If the child left this money invested in their own adult ISA and didn’t make any further contributions, and the fund grew by 5% a year, it would take a further 26 years for the value to hit £1 million (assuming no withdrawals).
It means your child or grandchild would be an ISA millionaire at the age of 44.
Get in touch
If you have any questions about ISAs or creating a plan to meet your long-term goals, please get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 8080200.
The value of your investment (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investments should be regarded over the longer term and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.