(Also called Foreign Currency Stocks and Bond Fund, International Fixed Interest, Currency Bond, Global Bond)
You invest in a fund of foreign currency fixed interest stocks, sometimes called Eurobonds. Most funds invest in a mixture of stocks in different foreign currencies including £. Others invest in certain areas, e.g. Europe, North America. By using derivatives the managers may invest in a different currency profile from that indicated by the denomination of the stocks. Otherwise, if the currency in which the bonds are denominated falls against the £ sterling, the value of your investments falls; the reverse is true if £ sterling falls against that currency.
If interest rates rise, or are expected to rise, the capital value of the stocks in the fund will fall. The reverse is the case if interest rates fall.
Who can invest Anyone.
How worthwhile Suitable for people who expect interest rates to fall in the country or areas the managers choose to invest in thus boosting the capital value of the fund. You may be able to make this investment tax free through Stock Maxi ISA. Unsuitable for non-taxpayers unless the fund has a very high yield. If you want to invest in stocks in a single foreign currency, see Offshore Stock and Bond Fund. If you want a similar investment confined to the UK see Shares Preference and Unit Trust Invested in Gilts and Fixed Interest.
Minimum Around £1,000 initially.
Suitable Lump sums. Regular savlngs.
Money back A few days.
Interest Variable. Called distribution. The before tax interest is called the yield; trusts specialising in different countries have different yields. Invest in trusts with a relatively high yield. The yield is usually calculated after deduction of the yearly fund charge. Some trusts calculate the yield without deducting the charge which gives the impression of a higher yield. These are marked with a 'C' in the Financial Times unit trust prices page.
Interest paid Half-yearly or quarterly by cheque to you or direct to a bank account.
Tax 20% income tax is deducted from the distribution whether or not you accumulate it. Non-taxpayers can reclaim the tax from the Inland Revenue. Higher rate taxpayers have to pay extra; basic and 20% taxpayers don't. The first distribution you receive after buying the units consists partly of interest and partly of an equalisation payment. This equalisation payment counts as a return of capital and is not taxable. Gains on units are liable to capital gains tax although the managers pay no capital gains tax if they make gains on stocks held by the trust. You may be able to avoid all tax if the trust is eligible for investment through a Stock Maxi ISA.
Fees to pay Initial charge: 1%-6% included in difference between buying and selling price of 4%-7%. Yearly 1%-1½% deducted from your income.
Passbook None. Statement or certificate sent with each transaction. Report and distribution voucher usually half-yearly.
Children Under 18, units should be held in an adult's name and can be designated with the child's name or initials.
Risk Reasonably high. The value of the units goes down as well as up in line with changes in exchange rates as well as interest rates in the relevant countries. Some funds are hedged to avoid the currency risk. The stocks in the trust are held by a Government approved trustee to ensure managers invest in what they say they do.
How to invest Phone the managers for details or get advice from an independent financial adviser on the best time to buy (and sell) and which trust to choose.
Where from An Independent Financial Adviser which offers discounts. Google lists more than 300, so it might be an idea to get a recommendation.