Nearly a quarter of Scots plan to save and invest more in the new tax year than they did in the year just ended, despite the stormy start to the year in the stock market and the rising temperature on the EU referendum.

A survey by online investment provider Willis Owen found 23per cent of people in Scotland ready to up their savings, and around 40 per cent of those aged 25 to 34.

Following years of austerity, saving money has become a higher priority for many Scots with 44 per cent putting away more money than they did two years ago, compared to a UK average of 41per cent, according to Scottish Widows’ recent annual savings study.

This week the FTSE-100 hit its highest level so far in 2016.

So what sort of strategy should potential new or top-up investors be adopting in such an uncertain year, with possibly even a Brexit round the corner?

“Over the last few months we’ve seen uncertainty over the EU referendum grow, alongside volatility in the stock markets and constant revisions to economic growth forecasts,” said Jason Chapman, managing director at Willis Owen which commissioned the research.

“These are all things that could easily dampen appetite among savers and investors.....but the fact so many younger people plan to up their level of savings and investments in this new tax year is positive evidence of a saving culture among this age group.”

For those who are happy to choose investments for their Isa, there are around 20 online platforms offering funds or shares or both.

A survey last week by, which sorts funds into seven risk ratings, found do-it-yourself investors more worried about risk than they were a year ago. In the ‘Isa season’, the percentage of cash going into funds with risk ratings 3 and 4 is up from 20 to 32 per cent, while funds with a risk rating of 6 or 7 took 60 per cent, down from 75 per cent.

Stuart Dyer, chief investment officer at rplan, commented: “There has been a clear drop in investors’ confidence versus a year ago and no doubt the volatility in January and Brexit vote later this year have played a role in that.”

But only half of platforms provide risk rating features, according to a survey of investment platforms commissioned by rplan earlier this year. Independent expert Andrew Hagger of MoneyComms found only 10 out of 19 platforms offered filter tools for investors to match funds to their risk profiles.

The research also claimed to find a “major mismatch” between investors’ stated attitude to risk and the funds they were choosing.

The nation’s investment Isa portfolio is invested 70 per cent in sectors with top risk ratings of 5 and 6 – even though research shows only nine per cent of UK adults rate their appetites for risk as being this high.

Nick Curry, director at, commented: “Many investors in the UK are just not aware of how risky their investments are. Most providers do not display the risk ratings when people are buying funds and even when they are, ratings and other information can be hard to find.

“All fund providers should be displaying the risk levels of their funds clearly, both before and after investing. If necessary, this should be enforced by the regulator.”

Inflation came in at a higher than expected 0.5per cent last month, but there is no sign of it triggering a rise in interest rates any time soon. That keeps cash savings rates depressed, with banks and building societies continuing to cut rates far more frequently than raising them. The average savings account is paying a dreadful 0.61per cent, and banks and building societies cut the rates on 235 accounts in February, according to, while raising them on only 12.

According to analysis by MetLife, someone making regular investments in the average cash Isa would have put away £24,911 since March 2009 and seen it grow to £26,272 for a gain of just £1,729 – or 6.8per cent before inflation.

Simon Massey, wealth management director at MetLife UK said: “Cash Isa savers have suffered for seven years and are not guaranteed an improvement any time soon.

“It is understandable that many are wary of investing in the stock market with the risk of losing money but the unfortunate reality is that many are already losing out after inflation.

Maike Currie, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International, says: “Saving into an Isa needn’t be daunting and you certainly don’t need to have large amounts of spare cash to make the most of your annual Isa allowance. In fact, you could quickly build up a significant Isa pot by simply saving on small daily expenses, such as the cost of your daily cappuccino. The longer you can save for, the better given the snowball effect of compounding which could make a considerable difference to your investment’s total returns over the long term.

“Investing little and often rather than in a lump sum also has a number of other benefits. For example, drip feeding money into your Isa can help smooth any ups and downs that you may experience from investing in the markets. You also don’t need to worry about timing the market.”