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Workplace ISA - Frequently asked questions

What if my question isn’t here?

This FAQ is focused on the workplace. More general FAQs can be found here.

What’s the difference between a workplace ISA and a normal ISA?

There isn't a difference. It’s just that buying through the workplace is easier and your employer has negotiated a significant discount on our standard charges for you.

Why is a workplace ISA easier?

Smarterly provides impartial comparison tables for stocks and shares ISA investments. This makes it easy to understand the balance of risk and return, and to choose from over 90 providers. We also have a monitoring service which keeps an eye on your money for you after you’ve invested. For some employers we set up a special sign-up process which means we can pre-populate all of your details (name, address national insurance number, etc.). This means you can sort out your ISA in just a few clicks. Some employers also enable you to contribute directly from your pay, which saves you having to look up your bank account details to set up a direct debit.

How much is the discount?

Your employer has acquired a 50% discount on our normal charges. That reduces our platform charge from 0.79% per annum to 0.40% per annum. It sounds small, but it’s potentially worth a lot of money. For someone investing £300 a month over 20 years in a high risk/return investment, the discount is likely to be worth between £4,000 and £10,000 depending on investment performance.

Can anyone else qualify for the discount?

Possibly. It depends on what we have agreed with your employer. Sometimes family can qualify as well.

What happens if I leave my employer?

Just carry on using Smarterly as normal. You keep access to the discount which is yours for life (including for any new investments, or other ISAs you transfer in from other providers). If you’re contributing via payroll then that will stop, obviously, but you can set up a Direct Debit instead.

How can I pay money in?

Debit card, Direct Debit, or salary deduction (if your employer supports it).

Is there any tax benefit to salary deduction?

No, any contributions come out of net pay, so neither you or your employer save any tax.

What’s the point of paying via salary deduction?

Mainly convenience – it means you don’t need to look up your bank details to set up a Direct Debit. Some people also like to put some savings away before it shows up in their bank account, just because it removes the temptation to spend it.

What’s the minimum investment?

Just £100 as a lump sum or £10 per month through salary deduction or £50 per month by direct debit.

What’s the maximum investment?

The ISA limit for 2019/20 is £20,000. If you’re lucky enough to hit this then we do have a general investment account as well which you can use.

Is there any risk?

Yes, with stocks and shares ISAs there is an element of risk. Our comparison tables help you compare risk and return by showing you a “bad case”, as well as a “most likely” and “good case”. The value of your ISA could go down as well as up and you may get back less than the “bad case”, or less than you put in.

Will returns on stocks and shares ISAs be better than on cash ISAs?

Not necessarily – there is a balance between risk and return. Over the longer term (10+ years) stocks and shares ISAs will probably do better, but there are no guarantees. And unlike cash ISAs, there is a risk that you get back less than you invested.

Can I transfer an existing ISA from another provider?

Yes, we have a transfer wizard that makes this really easy. It only takes a few minutes.

Is Smarterly regulated?

Yes, we’re authorised and regulated by the FCA. Our firm reference is 602533.

Is my money safe?

Yes, we are regulated by the FCA and all client money is held in FCA compliant segregated accounts. We are also covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and for more information please visit the Financial Services Compensation Scheme website.

What if you get into financial problems?

We hold your money in a ring-fenced account which means it is safe, even if we were to get into financial difficulties. The same applies to the fund management companies that invest your money in stocks and shares. In the unlikely event that you were to lose money as a result of us or one of our partners getting into financial problems, your loss may also be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Does Smarterly provide advice on investing?

No. We provide high quality information to help people make better decisions themselves.

Do you cover cash ISAs?

Yes we provide Cash ISAs in addition to Investment ISAs (also known as stocks and shares ISAs).

Is Smarterly impartial?

Yes, unlike most comparison sites we don’t take any commission. Our comparison tables are completely impartial.

How many ISAs can I have?

You can pay into one cash ISA and one investment (stocks & shares) ISA each year. (It is ok to have other ISAs so long as you don’t pay into them in the same year.) However, with Smarterly you are allowed to set up multiple ISA investments within your account. This is because, behind the scenes, all your investments are held within a single ISA.

Are the comparison tables impartial?

Yes. Unlike many comparison table services we don’t get paid any commission, so we have no reason to promote one provider over any other. The comparison tables are based on our objective assessment of the risks and potential returns of each fund, taking into account the nature of the fund’s investments, and its charges.

How do the costs compare with other providers?

The total cost of investing is typically around 0.65% per annum including all charges (ours and the fund managers). For people who aren’t experts in investing, the total cost is much cheaper than most of our competitors, because our comparison tables nudge people towards lower cost fund choices. For example, an investor using one of Hargreaves Lansdown’s ready-made portfolios will pay a total of 1.80% - 1.90%. (Prices as of December 2016, Hargreaves Lansdown).

How much does it cost?

The total cost of investing is typically around 0.65% per annum all-in. That includes our platform charge of 0.40% and fund manager charges of around 0.25% for our ready made portfolios. There are no other charges. That means:
  • No switching charges
  • No entry charges
  • No exit charges
  • No trading charges
  • No transfer in/out charges

How much tax do I pay on an ISA?

None! Unlike most other sorts of investment, you don’t have to pay any tax on investment income or capital gains from an ISA.

I invested £100 but my ISA balance only shows £60 – why?

It takes 3-6 days from the time your money is paid over for the funds to be fully invested and appear in your ISA balance. The money will appear in your ISA as the investments are transacted on your behalf.

Can I withdraw funds or switch at any time?

Yes! Just to confirm:
  • You can withdraw your money for free at any time
  • You can switch to any other investment in our comparison tables for free at any time
  • You can transfer your investment to another provider for free at any time
Please remember that if you want to transfer an ISA then don’t just withdraw all your money because you’ll lose your ISA allowance. Instead, you should get your new provider to contact us and the transfer will be performed directly.