The best-performing stocks and shares ISAs over 25 years

We reveal the best-performing stocks and shares ISAs from the past 25 years, and how much they are worth now

Person pointing at investment performance graph
(Image credit: Getty Images)

ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) are set to turn 25 this April after launching back in 1999, and they have aged well for many.

The tax-free savings accounts started with a £7,000 allowance- increased to £20,000 in 2017. 

The introduction of ISAs included traditional cash ISAs and stocks and shares ISAs

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

According to Hargreaves Lansdown (HL), if you invested £1,000 into a cash ISA at launch, it could be worth £1,864 today based on a typical rate of interest. If you invested £1,000 in a global tracker, it could be worth £4,094 today.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at HL, says: “The ISA has come a long way in 25 years.

“In the early days, when investors were still lamenting the loss of their predecessors – TESSAs and PEPs, few would have predicted it would become a vital cornerstone of millions of portfolios, attracting cash from around 12 million people annually, and saving us an incredible £6.7 billion tax in a year.”

HL investors paid in £8.43 billion into stocks and shares ISAs in 1999. Fast-forward to 2021/22, the platform’s users invested a whopping 66.9 billion. 

If you invested in a stocks and shares ISA back in 1999, find out if it has made of the best-performing funds and how much it could be worth today. 

Best-performing stocks and shares ISAs

New data from HL reveals the best-performing ISA shares and funds if you invested £1,000 in them when they launched in 1999, and how much they are worth now. 

Diploma takes the top spot. If you invested £1,000 into the company back in 1999, the share would be worth a whopping £276,228 today. 

Marlborough Special Situations wins as the top fund. £1,000 invested on day one of ISAs would be worth £25,614 today. The HSBC Indian Equity would return £22,252. 

While they provided notably higher returns than a global tracker fund, they did so with a lot more ups and downs. 

Hal Cook, senior investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown says the HSBC Equity fund experienced more than double the annual volatility of a global tracker, and of the 12-month periods analysed since the end of March 1999, the fund was only less volatile 3% of the time.

The same figures for Marlborough Special Situations are 23% and 25%, he adds.

If you invested in JD Sports, you would be sitting on £217,181. Though, Cook warns investors: “As anyone who has held JD Sports recently knows, there’s always the possibility for a company that has been riding high to hit a really sticky patch. 

“At the start of January, the King of Trainers warned that sales had grown by less than expected and the shares fell 20% in early trading. Of course, investing in single company shares always involves more concentrated risk than a fund, so isn’t right for everyone."

Best ISA funds to invest now 

Experts say it is not too late to invest your money. Cook adds: “These figures show the rewards reaped by those who got in at the beginning, but we don’t need to lose sleep over the growth we’ve missed. 

“Instead, it’s worth looking to the future, and taking advantage of ISAs now. The right assets and approaches will depend on your circumstances and objectives, but these figures show that if you’re putting money away for the long term, it’s well worth considering a stocks and shares ISA.”

Some of the most popular ISA funds currently include Vanguard and Fidelity. Read more on the most popular ISA funds

If you prefer a savings account over investing your money in to shares, you can also opt for a cash ISA- currently offering more than 5%. 

Remember, you can put up to £20,000 across your ISA portfolio and shield your savings or investments from the taxman each tax-year. 

Vaishali Varu

Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University and she has experience working with the likes of Leicester Mercury, Inews and The Week. She also comes from a marketing background, where she has done copywriting and content creation for businesses. 

Currently writing about all things personal finance, Vaishali is passionate about finding the best deals around, whether it's the best credit cards or the cheapest personal loans, as well as sharing top money hacks to help people save and better manage their money.