James Coney  

Many happy returns: 20 years of the Isa

James Coney

James Coney

Inspiring investing

In another case of ‘you can’t have it both ways’, there was much moaning (on social media, quelle surprise) about the barrage of press releases we journalists get about becoming an Isa millionaire.

I know it is tiresome and fearsomely unimaginative.

And I know it is simply maths with hindsight  – if you had invested X then, and it had grown at X per cent a year, you would have X now.

But should we not at least try to be a little bit aspirational when it comes to these things?

It is hard enough as it is to get people to invest and understand compound interest without having attempts at making it sound more exciting constantly knocked down.

Look at the way people respond to Premium Bonds. You are more likely to die from a pigeon falling on you than you are to win the £1m prize if you have one certificate, but that does not stop savers being excited about them.

Investing should be responsible and it should be realistic – but let us not kill off any hope of getting people to act prudently before they have even started.

Trouble ahead?

There is another less auspicious anniversary we should be doffing our caps to - quantitative easing, which is 10 years old.

Hurrah for a decade of cheap money which has boosted asset prices. Hurrah for the longest bull run in recent history.

Of course, the question is: what now? Investors have had a good run of it, but at some point what has been done, must be unwound. That may mean that pain is ahead.

As I have said before, we have got very good at planning for good times, but is it now time to prepare for the bad?

James Coney is money editor of the Sunday Times