A cup of coffee to stir up a little Isa interest

Perhaps it is a sign of the times we are in, with fund charges a cause of intensive debate, or perhaps it is the fact that the Isa season died years ago, because with weeks to go before the end of the tax season, all seems quiet on the Isa discount front.

With weeks to go before April 5, we are typically inundated with press releases from groups slashing their initial charges to get investors through their doors.

But to date there has been little activity in trying to persuade investors to use up their full £10,680 allowance.

It is a far cry from a decade ago, when groups joined forces to open “Isa cafes” on the last day of the tax year to encourage would-be investors into their funds.

Perhaps partly it reflects the fact that Isa discounts are less relevant now that most retail investors trade through platforms at or around net asset value. (Comment continues below)

However, last week, maybe in an unconscious nod to times gone by, JP Morgan (JPM) announced it is to open coffee vans on different days this week at three London railway stations in an effort to demonstrate how easy it is to save.

JPM’s premise is that for as little as the cost of cup of coffee a day, which they estimate works out to £50 a month, investors could build up as much £4,000 savings over five years.

They missed out on a “Wake-up call for investors” headline, but never mind. Instead, ­Londoners (sorry to potential investors everywhere else) will get a free cup of coffee if they visit one of the vans, although there is no small print saying you are obliged to invest if you accept said coffee.

The coffee itself is a moot point. It could have been cutting back on expensive sandwiches, buying a magazine a week, buying three beers instead of four, the point is that in these austere times costs add up.

The problem is that the retail investing community is a scared one, and rather than place their £50 a month in an Isa, which might well lose them money, many people would probably prefer a punt on the horses.