Who wants to be an ISA millionaire?

Laith Khalaf
22 February 2021

•    ISA millionaires favour stocks over funds
•    Neil Woodford’s former Equity Income fund features in the most popular funds held by ISA millionaires 
•    The youngest ISA millionaire on AJ Bell’s Youinvest platform is just 37, but the average age is 69
•    Big blue chips dominate the top holdings of ISA millionaires
•    It’s never been easier to become an ISA millionaire: today’s ISA millionaires needed 14% annual investment growth to break the £1 million mark; tomorrow’s ISA millionaires need just 7%

Laith Khalaf, financial analyst at AJ Bell, comments:

“Today’s ISA millionaires have shown a definite preference for investing in individual shares rather than funds, with 83% of their portfolios sitting in stocks, compared with just 14% held in pooled funds. Those with larger amounts in their ISA can afford to take the higher risks associated with investing in individual equities, and have a big enough pool of assets to diversify appropriately. Indeed, the average number of investments held by AJ Bell’s ISA millionaires is 28, showing these investors are putting their eggs in lots of different baskets.

“Big blue chip names like Lloyds, Shell and HSBC are the most popular stocks with ISA millionaires. The pandemic has been damaging for the share prices of these cyclical stocks, but recently performance has turned a corner, as a result of the global vaccine roll out. On the other hand Scottish Mortgage, another popular holding, has had a phenomenal year, thanks in large part to its holding in Tesla, a stock in which it has now taken profits and lowered its stake. Scottish Mortgage is hardly a flash in the pan though, it’s been an excellent performer ever since ISAs were introduced in 1999.

“It’s notable that some ISA millionaires held the LF Woodford Equity Income when trading was suspended, and like all other investors in the fund are still waiting for the final payout. The fact these investors have still done so well despite holding Woodford Equity Income demonstrates that even a fund that performs so poorly needn’t derail a well-diversified portfolio.

“It’s not too surprising that ISA millionaires tend to be older, seeing as it takes time to build up such a large amount of wealth in an ISA wrapper. The average age of AJ Bell’s ISA millionaires is 69, though the youngest is just 37. The older age profile probably goes some way to explaining the popularity of blue chip stocks over racier tech stocks like Amazon and Facebook, as many of the Footsie’s big hitters will be regular dividend payers, even if the pandemic saw payments cut back, or missed, in 2020. 

“A £1 million portfolio yielding 4% is generating an income of £40,000 a year, which is a pretty comfy retirement, especially when you add in state and private pensions. It looks like ISA millionaires are using UK blue chips to provide an income, while using funds to the heavy lifting as far as capital growth is concerned, with Baillie Gifford funds featuring heavily in the most popular investments, and of course the ubiquitous Fundsmith.

“The good news is that it’s never been easier to become an ISA millionaire. Today’s millionaires have built up their ISA wealth despite being limited to a maximum £7,000 annual contribution for the first nine years ISAs were in existence. That means they have had to achieve an average 14% annual growth on maximum ISA contributions to break through the £1 million barrier. Now investors can put £20,000 into an ISA each year, over the same period of 21 years, they would need a much more attainable 7% growth to hit the £1 million ISA jackpot, assuming the allowance doesn’t change. That means the ISA millionaires of the future will be more plentiful, and younger.”

ISA Millionaires: portfolio breakdown and key stats

Investment portfolio

% of total portfolio













Key stats


Average age


Number of ISA Millionaires


Average No. investments


Source: AJ Bell, based on AJ Bell customers with more than £1 million in an ISA

Top ten popular funds and shares with ISA millionaires



Investment Trusts


Fundsmith Equity

Scottish Mortgage IT

Royal Dutch Shell

Baillie Gifford Global Discovery

Monks IT


Baillie Gifford Pacific

Blackrock World Mining IT


Baillie Gifford Positive Change

Edinburgh Worldwide IT


Baillie Gifford American

Murray International IT

Legal & General

Camignac European Leaders

Scottish American IT


First Sentier Glob Emerging Market Leaders

Worldwide Healthcare IT


LF Blue Whale Growth

Alliance Trust


LF Equity Income

AVI Global IT


N/A *

Baillie Gifford Japan IT

Source: AJ Bell, based on AJ Bell customers with more than £1 million in an ISA
*only nine funds were held by two or more ISA millionaires

Laith Khalaf
Financial Analyst

Laith Khalaf started his career in 2001, after studying philosophy at Cambridge University. He’s worked in a variety of roles across pensions and investments, covering both the DIY and the advised sides of the business. In 2007, he began to focus on research and analysis, and has since become a leading industry commentator, as well as a regular contributor to the financial pages of the national press. He’s a frequent guest on TV and radio, and for several years provided daily business bulletins on LBC.

Contact details

Mobile: 07936 963 267
Email: laith.khalaf@ajbell.co.uk

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