The 2016 Isa season is about to enter full swing and with concerns over both the UK – and the global economy as a whole – investors are in a quandary as they decide how best to make use of their Isa allowance.

Cash Isas are the safest option but rates are now even poorer than last year – which was dubbed one of the worst on record, while the choice of products has been restricted by providers. Those looking to a stocks and shares Isa also face their own concerns, every global region faces its own challenges and even the traditional stalwart of UK equity income has worries over dividends cuts from banks and mining companies.

The outlook for investors may be grim but traditional advisers and financial intermediaries also face their own raft of challenges to ensure the Isa season does not become a damp squib – this challenge comes in the shape of competition from online providers, with nearly half of investors now choosing to buy their stocks and shares Isa from an online broker.

The CoreData Research report Isa Season 2016: Buying Behaviour and Distribution reveals just how uncertain the 2016 market is likely to be as sales of both stocks and shares Isas and cash Isas continue to decline.

Stocks and shares Isas registered a drop both in total market subscription value and total number of subscriptions. For stocks and shares Isas, the total number of accounts subscribed per year fell from 2.99 million in the 2013-2014 year to 2.71 million in 2014-2015. And the total market subscription value declined from £18.4 billion to £17.9 billion over the same period.

Although the number of accounts for cash Isas is also falling, the total market subscription value for cash Isas has undergone a significant increase, leaping from £38.8 billion in the 2013/2014 year to £60.9 billion for the 2014/2015 year. This can be attributed to the increase in the annual allowance. The initial shot in the arm for stocks and shares has had some success but given the low rates being offered it is feared this may not continue.

Within this stagnant environment, Isa providers also need to manage autonomous investors who are becoming more inclined to pick their own funds, this is a change many will have to adapt to. Over two in five (44%) of investors with a stocks and shares Isa are building customized portfolios of funds instead of choosing a pre-set portfolio of funds.

A further struggle involves the rejuvenation of the Isa market. Isas have become more appealing to the mass market, with a higher number of investors in this group now having a cash or stocks and shares Isa. However, additional work needs to be done to attract young investors to the Isa market as the take-up of stocks and shares Isas is strongest among those aged more than 65 years old (54%). Just 8% of 18-35 years olds have a stocks and shares Isa – this is the group which are likely to feel the full benefits of Isa savings, however small the savings, over the long term.201602-ISAs-Losing-Appeal

The industry also has its work cut out when it comes to low investor satisfaction levels with Isa rates and fees. Just 16% of stocks and shares Isa investors rate their provider as very good in terms of fees and charges. However, such low satisfaction levels also give providers an opportunity to carve out a competitive edge.

The hope is for reforms due to be introduced in 2016 to re-ignite the Isa market. April will see flexible Isa rules come into effect in addition to the launch of the Innovative Finance Isa. With a possible announcement of a pension Isa in this year’s Budget, the individual savings account market could look very different over the next few years. How these are marketed to the younger generation are key to the long-term success of the Isa market for many providers.

The jury is out on whether these reforms will be enough to inject some life into a somewhat stagnant Isa market and whether the Innovative Finance Isa will turn out to be the hoped for game changer. But the expansion of the individual savings account into the housing, peer-to-peer lending and possibly pensions sectors should help improve its appeal as well as benefiting the wider economy.

And when interest rates eventually rise from their historic lows, cash Isas will offer better rates and become more attractive. buy over the counter medicines займ на картезайм во все банкиджо мани займ