Savings and Investments

National Savings Products

The least risky of investment options are those offered by National Savings, which raises money on behalf of the UK Government.

While investment returns are not spectacular and some involve tying your money up for long periods of time they are nevertheless stable and in some cases can be paid tax free or paid without deduction of tax (although taxable), which is beneficial if you are a non taxpayer.

They include National Savings Bank accounts and various forms of savings and Income Bonds. These savings and investment products are backed by H.M. Treasury, which makes them the most secure cash products available in the UK.

THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY DOES NOT REGULATE NATIONAL SAVINGS PRODUCTS.

INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM TAXATION, ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

Endowments

Endowment Policies

These are a common form of investment policy. Regular premiums are paid, and when the term of the endowment expires a lump sum is paid out. The lump sum may be used to repay a mortgage, for example, although to achieve this the investment performance needs to be sufficient to build up the required capital and this performance cannot be guaranteed.

Most endowments have a protection element such that if the policyholder should die then a lump sum becomes payable.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

With-profits

With-profits Policies

A with-profits policy is a type of investment fund.

Policies that are with-profits give the insured the extra benefit of a possible bonus that is a share of the profits from the funds that the premiums have been invested in.

How and where the premiums are to be invested is worth establishing if you are going to invest in a with-profits product, such as single premium insurance bonds for example. But as with all long-term investments in the stock market or in interest bearing instruments it is important to stay with them for the long term. That way they have time to build up and “smooth” the short term ups and downs in rates of return. The with-profits endowment policy is also a means of regular long-term saving and has the potential for a good return, but there is no guarantee of the final (maturity) value of the policy.

Some policies may also benefit from terminal bonuses if they are held for their full term. When choosing insurance products for investment it is important to be aware of what charges, fees or commissions may be attached to them and when profits and bonuses are added to the policies. Some, for example, will be heavily weighted with charges at the beginning of their policy life.

Once any bonuses have been added, they cannot normally be taken away. Growth and bonuses cannot be usually guaranteed in advance but any bonuses will be added to your sum insured, bringing a possible investment return over the years of your life insurance policy.

With-profits bonds are usually another way of investing in with-profits funds by paying a single insurance premium.

Market Value Adjustments (MVA) – what are they and how do they affect With-Profit investments?

A Market Value Adjustment (MVA) is a way for the insurer to make sure that the amount of money paid out to an investor is a fair reflection of that investor’s share of the with-profits fund, and any growth which has been achieved on the fund. The MVA is used to protect the remaining policyholders with units in that fund.

The adjustment is made via a penalty that may be applied if a customer takes units out of a with-profit fund other than on a pre-agreed date, to take account of investment market conditions at the time.

The operation of the MVA may mean that the value of your investment, if encashed early, could be less than the amount invested.

A MARKET VALUE ADJUSTMENT MIGHT APPLY ON ENCASHMENT. THE VALUE OF THIS POLICY DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH PROFIT THE COMPANY/FUND MAKES AND HOW THEY DECIDED TO DISTRIBUTE THAT PROFIT.

Equities

Investing in Equities

Investing in equities means buying stocks and shares in companies listed on the stock exchange. Historically this brings greater rewards than investing in bank accounts and bonds as you have the possibility of gaining not only a dividend – a proportion of the company’s after tax profits distributed to shareholders – but also a capital appreciation. If the price of the shares goes up after you buy them then you have made, on paper at least, a capital gain.

But with these increased rewards comes greater risk as the value of shares can go down as well as up, which means you risk losing your investment if the price of the shares falls.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

Unit Trusts

Investing in Unit Trusts

Unit Trusts are a common type of collective investment.

A unit trust is a large fund of monies and/or investments pooled together and controlled by trustees with the aim of gaining capital appreciation, income, or both.

Unit Trusts are made up of ‘units’. Each unit will have both a buying price and a selling price. The difference in these prices includes the fund management charges. The number of units held, multiplied by the current price, gives the current value of an investors holding.

These investments are open ended, which means that units are created every time an investor puts money into the fund, and liquidated when they withdraw money, so that the fund can react to demand and continually grow through prosperous periods.

Investors can then enjoy the benefits of larger investments including discounts, however during periods of poorer performance, the fund may need to sell assets to enable investors to withdraw their monies so the fund size is reduced.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

OEICs

Open Ended Investment Companies (OEICs)

An OEIC works in a very similar way to a unit trust except that an OEIC is legally constituted as a limited company (Plc). OEICs have been operating outside the UK for some time, but only since 1997 has it been possible to operate an OEIC in the UK.

OEICs are not trusts and do not therefore have a trustee. Instead, however, they have a depository which holds the securities and has similar duties to a unit trust trustee.

Most OEICs operate as umbrella funds which means that the OEIC is authorised and then can set up sub-funds without gaining individual authorisation for individual sub-funds. Each sub-fund has different investment aims, e.g. a sub-fund may specialise in the shares of small companies or in a particular country, e.g. the USA. Each sub-fund can also have different charges and minimum and maximum investments. Unit trusts are allowed to do this too, but few do.

Most OEICs only have one unit price and the initial charge is added as an extra. Unit trusts always have two prices, the lower or bid price is what you get when you sell back to the managers; the higher or offer price is what you have to pay when you buy.

SOME FUNDS WILL CARRY GREATER RISKS IN RETURN FOR HIGHER POTENTIAL REWARDS. INVESTMENT IN SMALLER COMPANY FUNDS CAN INVOLVE GREATER RISK THAN IS CUSTOMARILY ASSOCIATED WITH FUNDS INVESTING IN LARGER, MORE ESTABLISHED COMPANIES. ABOVE AVERAGE PRICE MOVEMENTS CAN BE EXPECTED AND THE VALUE OF THESE FUNDS MAY CHANGE SUDDENLY.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

Investment Trusts

Investment Trusts work similarly to Unit Trusts and OEICs in that they provide a means of pooling your money with other investors. They are however different in that they are publicly listed companies whose shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange and also in that they have a finite window of opportunity in which investors can subscribe rather than being open ended. The prices of shares in Investment Trusts will fluctuate according to investment demand and changes in the value of their underlying assets. They are therefore subject to the same types of risk associated with any product that invests money either directly or indirectly in the stock market but the level of risk depends on the trust’s strategy and the classes of assets held.

The Investment Trust Company may borrow to finance further investment (gearing). The use of gearing is likely to lead to increased volatility in the Net Asset Value (NAV), meaning that a relatively small movement, down or up, in the value of a company’s assets will result in a magnified movement, in the same direction, of that NAV.

A particular Investment Trust may invest in companies that are not listed on a stock exchange (unlisted investments). These can also be more volatile in their price fluctuations and harder to sell than listed shares.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

SOME FUNDS WILL CARRY GREATER RISKS IN RETURN FOR HIGHER POTENTIAL REWARDS. INVESTMENT IN SMALLER COMPANY FUNDS CAN INVOLVE GREATER RISK THAN IS CUSTOMARILY ASSOCIATED WITH FUNDS INVESTING IN LARGER, MORE ESTABLISHED COMPANIES. ABOVE AVERAGE PRICE MOVEMENTS CAN BE EXPECTED AND THE VALUE OF THESE FUNDS MAY CHANGE SUDDENLY.

SHARES IN SMALLER COMPANIES AND EMERGING MARKETS ARE GENERALLY TRADED LESS FREQUENTLY THAN THOSE IN LARGER COMPANIES AND ESTABLISHED MARKETS. THIS MEANS THAT THERE MAY BE DIFFICULTY IN BOTH BUYING AND SELLING SHARES AND INDIVIDUAL SHARE PRICES MAY BE SUBJECT TO SHORT-TERM PRICE FLUCTUATIONS

Capital Investment Bonds

Capital Investment bonds are designed to give capital growth and/or income over the medium to long term with access to your money by taking regular or one off withdrawals. Most bonds are designed for investment over at least five years. If you cash in your investment before that time, you are likely to be charged an early-surrender penalty.

Bonds are set up through insurance companies without the need for a check on your health status and normally people of any age can hold a bond. Bonds can be opened onshore (within the UK) or offshore (usually in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands) to take advantage of tax concessions. The decision will depend on your personal tax situation.

There are no maximum limits to invest, but barriers to entry can start higher than other investments, with a £10,000 entry point being not untypical.

Drawing down income from a capital investment bond can be an option, though obviously any income drawn down will deplete the original capital. You may be able, depending on the policy, to make additional payments to the bond at any time, as well as one-off withdrawals. With a capital investment bond an investor could make a profit from any stock market upturn and in some bonds their capital can be protected should stock markets fall but this protection comes at a cost.

Capital investment bonds have management charges and these vary greatly. They are usually levied as an annual fund charge or even as an initial charge and early en-cashment charge.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

Junior ISAs

Individual Savings Accounts for children or Junior ISAs were introduced in November 2011 replacing Child Trust Funds. They are long term, tax-free savings accounts for children who

  • are under 18
  • live in the UK
  • are not entitled to a Child Trust Fund account.

A child cannot have a Junior ISA as well as a Child Trust Fund account, however, a Junior ISA can be opened and the trust fund transferred into it.

There are two types of Junior ISA, a cash Junior ISA and a stocks and shares Junior ISA and a child can have one or both types at any one time but the total amount which can be paid into either or both combined (if they have both) is £4,128.

If the child is under 16 the account must be opened by someone with parental responsibility, e.g. a parent or step-parent, who then becomes the ‘registered contact’ and the only one who can change the account or provider. They should also keep all paperwork and report on any change of circumstances.

Anyone can put money into the account (providing the annual limit is not exceeded) but only the child can take it out and only then when they are 18. If they choose not to take it out or invest it in a different type of account then the Junior ISA will automatically become an adult ISA.

The money in the account can only be withdrawn before the child is 18 under two conditions:-

  • The child is terminally ill, in which case the ‘registered contact’ can take the money out
  • The child dies, in which case the money will be paid to the person who inherits the child’s estate.

INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM TAXATION, ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.