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Cash ISA transfer process to be simplified

27 August 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The process of transferring an ISA from one provider to another will soon become much easier, thanks to new guidelines set out by the British Bankers' Association (BBA), the Building Societies Association (BSA), and the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA).

Many providers are already working to the timescales included in the new guidelines, which refer to cash ISAs and specify what stage of the transfer process it is recommended that ISA providers complete within a certain timeframe.

Transferring ISAs is broken down into five steps in the guidelines, so that the providers have a stricter timescale by which to complete the process. Those that do not already meet these timescales will take action to do so as soon as possible.

One of the delays which was identified as a stalling point in the transfer process was the insufficient amount of information being exchanged between one provider and another, so a new form has been introduced – the Model Cash ISA Transfer Authority Form – which will capture the necessary information.

"ISAs have been an enormously popular means of saving so collectively the industry has taken decisive action to resolve some of the immediate issues facing customers." said Angela Knight, BBA chief executive. "Now we are moving our focus to the longer term to ensure the ISA transfer process is robust and efficient for customers."

BSA director-general, Adrian Coles, added: "Building societies are aware of the very real problems faced by some customers transferring their ISA. We believe that these guidelines are a good first step to simplify the process, improve communication and ensure the customer gets a better level of service."

The Cash ISA Transfers: Guidelines August 2008 and have been reviewed by the HM Revenue and Customs, and, to ensure that the concerns raised by investors and providers are adequately addressed, they have been shared with the HM Treasury, Financial Services Authority (FSA), and the Banking Code Standards Board.

The BBA, BSA and TISA will review the new guidelines with hopes of issuing them within the next 12 months.

Halifax has already announced its support of the new measures, and is re-launching its ISA Rate Promise; it already adheres to the new timelines and is working towards implementing all of the other guidelines.

Additionally, Halifax will also backdate any interest payments from the day the funds are released from the customer's other provider when they are switching to any of the Halifax Cash ISA range.

Tony Wilcox, head of savings at Halifax, said "Taking up the yearly ISA allowance should be the cornerstone of all UK savers plans, using the allocation means savers can make the most of the money they set aside. The combination of the new standards and our existing rate promise means ISA customers can be sure the transfer process is very clear and transparent."

© Fair Investment Company Ltd