Lump sum invested in the shares of a company which employs professional managers to invest its assets, mainly in ordinary shares. The price of investment trusts moves broadly with the value of its portfolio of shares. Sometimes the portfolio is worth more than the market value of the trust and the trust shares are said to be at a discount; the reverse is known as a premium. You usually receive an income and hope to make a capital gain by selling for more than you paid but you may end up with a loss by selling for less. There are around 300 investment trusts. Most specialise by type (e.g. Smaller Companies, Venture and Development Capital) or area (e.g. Far East, Europe, Emerging Markets or a mixture). Most trusts are geared which means they go up and down more sharply than a unit trust with the same portfolio of shares.
Who can invest Anyone.
How worthwhile Good value as a long term investment for taxpayers if you buy and sell at the right time; poor value if you don't. See also Investment Trust ISA. Unsuitable for non-taxpayers.
Minimum £200 to £500 if you invest direct with managers; £1,000 with a stockbroker because minimum commission.
Suitable Lump sums. See Investment Trust Savings Plan for regular savings.
Money back 5 days after you sell. Stockbrokers deal every day; managers usually don't. You get the market price when you sell.
Interest Variable. Called dividend. The before tax interest is called the yield. Some aim for a high or rising income.
Interest paid Usually half-yearly. By cheque to you or direct to a bank account. About 5 weeks before the dividend is paid, the shares go ex-dividend; this means the seller gets the next dividend, not the buyer.
Tax 10% tax is deducted from the dividend (called a tax credit). Non- taxpayers cannot reclaim the tax credit from the Inland Revenue. Higher rate taxpayers have to pay extra; basic taxpayers don't. Gains on shares may be liable to capital gains tax though the managers pay no capital gains tax when they make gains on ordinary shares held within the trust.
Fees to pay When you buy and sell: stockbrokers' commission: Varies widely, cheaper from an on-line broker; minimum £10 to £20. Stamp duty ½% when you buy only.
Passbook Share certificate from each investment trust or a statement of ownership from your stockbroker if your shares are held by your stockbroker as nominee . Nominee holdings will increasingly become difficult to avoid under Crest.
Children Under age 18 shares must be held in an adult's name but can be designated with a child's initials or name.
Risk High. The value of shares goes down as well as up but little risk of the trust going bust as there may be with the shares of an individual company.
How to invest Visit the Association of Investment Trust Companies web site and Trustnet. They list managers, trust portfolios, speciality, discounts and gearing. Choose from the larger trusts of the type you want with the highest discount and gearing. Or ask a specialist stockbroker for advice, the Association also supplies a list of stockbrokers.
Where from A stockbroker oron-line.