Forget ITV quiz shows, there are ways to become a millionaire without having to phone a friend.
Savvy savers and investors who make the most of their annual Isa allowance could build a tax-free pot worth £1m in around 24 years, experts claim.
Research by InvestingReviews last year found there are around 2,000 Isa millionaires – people who have used the yearly tax-free allowance to build a pot worth £1m or more.
Hargreaves Lansdown data, provided to iMoney, shows the DIY investing platform has 573 Isa millionaires ranging from those in their 30s to some over age 100.
“Some people get into investment in the hope of getting rich quick, but the vast majority of ISA millionaires have built a fortune through the far more reliable approach of getting rich slow,” says Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst for Hargreaves Lansdown.
Here is how you could start your journey to becoming an Isa millionaire.
Invest as much as you can
HMRC provides an annual allowance of £20,000 that can be earned tax-free in an Isa.
This is across cash and stocks and shares tax wrappers, but experts say the more you can max out an investment Isa, the sooner you could become an Isa millionaire.
“Fund your Isa with as much as you can up to the full limit each year if possible,” says Laith Khalaf, head of investment analysis for AJ Bell.
Investors could hit the million mark after 24 years, Khalaf said, based on putting your full £20,000 into an ISA each year and achieving a 6 per cent annual return after charges.
“If you were lucky enough to get an 8 per cent annual return, you would hit the million mark after 21 years,” he adds.
This may be tricky for most investors though as the average stocks and shares Isa contribution for the 2021/22 tax year was just £9,432.
“It would take 30 years of annual contributions with very aggressive investment growth of 8 per cent each year to reach £1m,” says Rio Stedford, financial planning expert at Quilter.
“If you are 30, you have the potential to hit the £1m figure prior to retirement. However, for the average investor, it could take a whopping 42 years to reach that target.
“Both these scenarios assume investment charges of 1 per cent. Although it takes time, it is achievable, if you have the disposable income available.”
The earlier you start investing, the more chance you have of pushing your stocks and shares Isa towards £1m and the more you will benefit from compounding.
This is where any gains from your portfolio are automatically reinvested alongside your own regular contributions without having to invest more.
“If you can start investing early, you will establish a good habit going into your peak earning years where you can potentially squirrel away more of your disposable income,” Stedford says.
Khalaf adds: “Even if you were only able to use half your allowance, the joy of compound returns means you don’t have to wait double the time to become a millionaire. Sticking aside £10,000 a year and getting six per cent annual return will get you to the million mark in 33 years.”
Consider how you invest
Taking too much risk could hit your returns and too little could limit them. Additionally, fund and platform charges can eat into your investing profits.
“Isa investors don’t take enormous risks,” adds Coles. “More of them hold collective investments than single shares. Their focus is to consistently invest as much as possible of their annual allowance, as early as possible in the tax year, in a diverse and balanced portfolio. They’ve done this every year for decades.”
Some risk is important though, says Khalaf: “If you opt for safer assets producing lower long-term returns, it will take you a lot longer to hit the million mark, if indeed you ever do.”
Asset classes are rarely consistent performers, warns Stedford, so make sure you have a spread of investments across regions, assets and investment styles.
“This will reduce any undue risk in your portfolio and help smooth the investment journey,” he adds. “That doesn’t mean you can’t take a view on the market and certainly over a long-term horizon having more of a growth bias as opposed to value may make sense for some.
“But as the last two years have shown, investment landscapes can be turned on their heads almost overnight and you don’t want to miss out on the good performers.”
Look beyond your Isa
Becoming an Isa millionaire is a nice aspiration but it is unlikely to be your sole reason for investing.
“A million is just a number like any other, and what’s more important is that your ISA investments allow you to achieve your financial goals in a tax efficient way,” adds Khalaf
“If you’re able to build up a £250,000 ISA pot, that could provide you with a tax-free income of £10,000 a year in retirement, assuming you hold an equity income portfolio yielding 4%.
“When added to your private pension and the state pension, that could be a really nice boost to your retirement income that might well take you beyond comfortable to affluent.”
‘I’ll be an Isa millionaire within a decade’
Business author John Lamerton from Plymouth estimates he is about a decade away from becoming an Isa millionaire and credits it all to a £25 sum he started with almost 30 years ago.
“When I started working in 1995 my dad told me to set aside 20% of everything I earned to invest for the future.
“That started at £25 and has grown as my income has increased and now I can afford to put £1,666 into an Isa each month to max out my allowance.”
He now uses the 20% rule as part of his business advice given in one of his books, Routine Machine.
This has helped the 45-year-old father-of-two build an Isa portfolio worth more than £700,000 by investing in low-cost passive funds through the Hargreaves Lansdown platform.
“I am so used to the 20% rule that I have never missed the money. It comes out just like a tax,” he says.
“I like to own the world across geographical regions and sectors and rarely look at the portfolio except once a year just to rebalance it.”
Beyond making the most of his Isa allowance each year, John says it is the power of compounding that has helped him most.
He adds: “It is about the hill of time, the greatest return I have had is that first £25 I put in 28 years ago.”