With just a few weeks to the deadline for contributing to a cash ISA in the present tax year, the
quality of ISA advice given to consumers by building societies and banks has been strongly criticised.
In an undercover investigation, the consumer group Which? found that just three out of 104 cash ISA
providers correctly answered four simple questions about cash ISA transfer rules.

Conflicting and incorrect information

Which? used mystery shoppers to call 13 of the top cash ISA providers. Of these, 97 per cent of
advisers gave incorrect and conflicting information about the amount that consumers could transfer
whilst almost half – 43 per cent – were unaware that you could transfer money from a cash ISA to a
stocks and shares ISA.

Which? asked:

How do I transfer my ISA?
Are there rules on how much I can transfer?
Can I leave some money with you and transfer the rest to a different ISA?
Can I transfer my cash Isa to a stocks and shares ISA?

HSBC were the worst performing provider, scoring an overall average of 32 per cent for the four
questions). Second worst were the Royal Bank of Scotland (35 per cent), followed by the Co-
operative Bank and HSBC subsidiary First Direct (both with 38 per cent).

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: “We were genuinely shocked by this ISA
investigation. Cash ISA transfer rules aren’t that complicated and cash ISAs have been around since
1999 – surely 12 years is long enough to learn the rules?

“We last looked at ISA transfers seven years ago. How disappointing that training for staff doesn’t
seem to have improved since then. Surely banks and building societies have the resources to ensure
their frontline staff are properly trained?”

Best performing ISA providers

Whilst the results were generally disappointing, Nationwide boasted the best average score (69 per
cent), followed by Barclays and Yorkshire Bank (both with 63 per cent).

However, even though they came top of the survey, no Nationwide or Barclays adviser could
correctly answer a question about how much consumers can transfer between ISAs.

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