Posts Tagged ‘investment isa’

Investment Focus: new launch offering 33% return even if the FTSE falls 40%

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Since there will always be investors who are not confident the markets will rise over the medium term, there will always be the potential for defensive investments to appeal – and the range of plans on offer has certainly grown in recent years. A defensive investment plan is simply a plan that is designed to provide an investment return even if the stock market fails to rise, or in some circumstances goes down. This week we take a closer look at a new launch defensive plan that offers a 33.0% fixed return even if the FTSE has fallen up to 40%.

The FTSE highs and lows

Since the FTSE 100 Index (‘the FTSE’) broke through the 7,000 point barrier for the first time in March 2015, it has been as low as 5,537 points (February 2016), and has reached its highest closing level on record at 7,429 points (March 2017). Indeed, the FTSE has been well over 7,000 points since the start of the year and whilst the Index remains at what are historically high levels, defensive investment plans have become increasingly popular.

Defensive investment plans

This type of plan attempts to offer investors the best of both worlds, by balancing less of the investment upside, with the opportunity to achieve these returns even if the market fails to rise. This means they are designed for investors who have a neutral or negative outlook of what could happen to the stock market in the coming years, and yet who would still like the opportunity to receive investment level returns.

Plan summary

The FTSE Defensive Growth Plan from Focus aims to provide a fixed return of 33% at the end of the six year term, and will do so provided the value of the FTSE at that point is at least 60% of its value at the start of the plan. Therefore, the FTSE can fall up to 40% and investors would still receive a 33% growth return, along with a full return of their original capital.

If the Index has fallen by more than 40% at the end of the term, no growth will be achieved and your initial capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall. This plan therefore puts your capital at risk and you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

33% return even if the FTSE falls up to 40%

This is a strong headline since investors will receive a positive return, even if the FTSE falls by quite some way from its value at the start of the plan. This means that even if you are not confident the FTSE will rise at all, you could still receive a fixed return of 33% unless the FTSE falls by more than 40%. The 33% return is equivalent to 4.86% compound annual growth.

‘Defensive’ feature

Since the fixed return on offer is dependent on the performance of the FTSE 100 Index, the defensive element of the plan is an important one to understand. Rather than the Index having to finish higher than its value at the start of the plan, the Index can fall up to 40% and the fixed return of 33% is still paid. Whilst the FTSE continues at what are historically high levels, this ‘defensive’ feature could be an appealing one, whist the fixed return is also paid if the FTSE goes up.

Some capital protection from a falling market

Provided the FTSE 100 Index has not fallen by more than 40% at the end of the term, the 33% growth return is paid to you along with a full return of your initial investment. Since the market can fall up to 40% before your initial investment is at risk, the plan offers some capital protection against a falling market. This should be considered in conjunction with the potential return on offer when reviewing the plan’s overall risk versus reward. Should the Index have fallen by more than 40%, your initial investment is reduced by 1% for each 1% fall. In this case you would lose at least 40% of your capital.

Defined risk and defined returns

One of the features of this plan is that the potential returns are stated up front, prior to investing. This allows the investor to consider the potential upside in the context of the amount of risk they are taking, since you know at the outset exactly what needs to happen in order to receive the stated level of growth as well as a return of your initial investment.

ISAs and ISA transfers

The plan accepts ISA investments up to the maximum £20,000 ISA allowance as well as ISA transfers, from both Cash ISAs and Stocks & Shares ISAs. You can also make non-ISA investments and the minimum investment into the plan is £5,000.

Credit risk & compensation scheme

This plan is a structured investment so your initial capital is used to purchase securities issued by the plan’s counterparty, Credit Suisse AG. This means that Credit Suisse’s ability to meet their financial obligations becomes an important investment consideration. If the bank fails or becomes insolvent, this could affect both the payment of any growth return as well as the return of your original investment, and you would not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for default alone.

Credit ratings

Standard & Poor’s is one of the main global credit rating agencies and as at 9th June 2015, Credit Suisse AG has an ‘A’ credit rating with a stable outlook. The ‘A’ rating denotes a strong capacity to meet its financial commitments and the stable outlook indicates that the rating is not likely to change in the short to medium term, i.e. in the next 6 months to 2 years.

Credit Suisse AG profile

Credit Suisse AG is one of the world’s leading financial services providers and is a subsidiary of Credit Suisse Group AG. As an integrated bank, Credit Suisse Group AG offers a range of financial products and services across the areas of private banking, investment banking and asset management. Credit Suisse is headquartered in Zurich and as at the end of 2016, employs around 47,170 people and operates in 50 countries worldwide.

Fair Investment view

Commenting on the plan, Oliver Roylance-Smith, head of savings and investment at Fair Investment Company Limited, said: “Whist the FTSE continues at well over 7,000 points, if you are not confident that the markets will rise in the medium term it can be difficult to find investment ideas. Defensive plans such as these do offer an alternative, and with a product headline of a 33% growth return unless the FTSE 100 Index falls by more than 40%, the risk versus reward of this plan could make for a compelling opportunity. Of course this is dependent on you view of what might happen in the coming years, but if the FTSE had fallen up to 40% in 6 years time, and yet you still achieved 33% growth plus a return of your initial capital, some would consider that a good return on their investment.”

 

This plan is open for new ISA investments up to the £20,000 ISA allowance, Cash ISA and Stocks & Shares ISA transfers, as well as non-ISA investments, with a minimum investment of £5,000.

Click here for more information about the Focus FTSE Defensive Growth Plan »

 

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. Fair Investment Company does not offer advice and any investment transacted through us is on a non-advised basis. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring or switching an ISA.

This is a structured investment plan that is not capital protected and is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.

Fixed rate Head to Head: National Savings and Investments Growth Bond versus Investec Income Plan

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On 11th April, National Savings and Investments (NS&I) launched the Investment Guaranteed Growth Bond (the NS&I Bond), as announced by the Chancellor in the last Budget. Offering a market leading fixed rate, this bond has been eagerly awaited and offers an attractive option for savers.  However, whilst savings rates overall continue at their historical lows, it is also understandable why some are choosing to consider moving up the risk spectrum in the hunt for higher fixed returns. With this in mind, here we offer a fixed rate head to head, as we compare the pros and cons of this market leading NS&I fixed rate bond with the market leading fixed rate investment.

Fixed rate bond

Capital protected fixed rate bonds have for some time been a cornerstone of many a saver’s portfolio. Probably the main reason is that they offer a fixed rate of interest, known at outset and which is normally paid for a fixed term, so you know exactly how much you will receive, when and for how long. Provided the bank remains solvent, your capital is also protected and returned to you in full at the end of the fixed term.

Fixed savings rate reality check

Despite the obvious appeal of a fixed return from our capital, the popularity of the fixed rate bond has been diminishing in line with the general trend of falling savings rates. This is particularly pronounced in the last five years, for example in April 2012, you could secure a one year fixed rate paying you 3.50% AER, and a five year offering 4.40% AER fixed. Now the top savings rates over the same terms are in the region of 1.50% and 2.15%, equivalent to falls in interest of 57% and 51% respectively.

These significant drops have not gone un-noticed, perhaps best illustrated by the increased use of the Stocks & Shares ISA over the Cash ISA we have seen in recent years, as interest rates available on the latter have declined substantially and so more savers consider taking on more risk in the hunt for higher returns.

Fixed rate investment

The need for a fixed and regular income is as strong as it is ever has been, however it is also the case that most investments only offer a variable income, and therefore do not offer the predictable income stream that is so important to many who are considering what to do with their capital. But although investments generally offer a variable income, our best selling income investment plan does offer a fixed return, which perhaps helps to explain why the FTSE 100 Enhanced Income Plan from Investec Bank (the Investec Plan) has been so popular.

NS&I versus Investec

The most important difference between these two products is their treatment of your initial capital. Your investment into NS&I’s Bond is fully protected by HM Treasury, and so is returned to you at the end of the term, regardless of any other market factors. Investec’s Plan however, not only relies on the bank’s solvency in order to return your capital at the end of the investment term, but this is also dependent on the performance of the FTSE 100 Index, and so your capital is at risk.

We will now take a closer look at the key features of these two market leading fixed rates:

Fixed term

Both products have a fixed term. The NS&I Bond has a fixed term of three years whilst the Investec Plan is fixed for five years. Fixed terms often appeal to those who wish to plan around this and combined with a fixed rate, offer the peace of mind of knowing exactly what will be paid and for how long.

Fixed rate

The NS&I Bond pays a fixed rate of 2.20% AER, which is significantly higher than the next best three year fixed rate on the market (currently 1.91% with OakNorth Bank) and is more in line with the best longer term fixed rates with a term of five years or more. The latest issue of the Investec Plan offers an annual income of 4.56%, which is more than double that offered by the best capital protected fixed rate option available.

Payment frequency

Another important feature of fixed rate products is how often the interest is paid, and where it can be paid, especially for those looking to supplement their income. Interest on the NS&I Bond is paid annually and can only be added to the bond, whilst interest on the Investec Plan is paid monthly into a bank account of your choice. Monthly income is often cited as the most popular option since it is the most useful in terms of budgeting, and can be attractive when looking to supplement existing income or boost retirement income from your capital.

Interest payments

Interest on both accounts is paid to you gross. Interest from the NS&I Bond and any non-ISA investments into the Investec Plan will be subject to UK tax and will count towards your Personal Savings Allowance. New ISA investments or ISAs transferred into the Investec Plan will not be subject to tax.

Minimum/maximum contributions

Both plans only accept lump sum contributions. The minimum into the NS&I Bond is only £100, but perhaps the biggest limitation to the product is that it is restricted to a maximum balance of £3,000 per person. Investec’s Plan on the other hand has a minimum contribution of £3,000, which may be on the high side for some, but with a maximum investment limit of £1m, should cater for investors looking for a high fixed income.

Early closure

You can withdraw your money from the NS&I Bond before the end of the term but a penalty equal to 90 days’ interest will be deducted on the amount you cash in. The Investec Plan also includes the option to withdraw your money early however the value you receive will be a market value which is based on how long your investment has been running as well as market conditions at the time of cashing in. This could result in you getting back less than you originally invested and so this plan should be considered a fixed term investment, and only taken out if you do not need access to the capital for the next five years and accept the risk to your capital.

ISA option

The NS&I Bond does not accept ISA investments whilst the Investec Plan accepts both new ISAs and ISA transfers. Although the Personal Savings Allowance removes the tax liability on the interest earned for most savers, there are still a significant number of Cash ISA savers with accounts paying little or no interest, and with very poor returns on offer by the current range of fixed rate Cash ISAs. This could therefore be considered a viable option by utilising the ISA transfer, as well as new ISA investments up to the new £20,000 ISA allowance. ISA interest does not count towards the Personal Savings Allowance because it’s already tax-free. Please remember that your capital is at risk with the Investec Plan.

Offer period

The NS&I Bond launched on 11th April 2017 and accounts can be opened for 12 months from launch, with applications being accepted up to 10th April 2018. Investec’s current issue opened on 18th April with a closing date of 5th May for ISA transfers, and 26th May for new ISAs and non-ISA investments. The Investec Plan is now in its 34th issue and since its launch, a new issue has started immediately after the end of the previous issue.

Treatment of capital

Any investment into the NS&I Bond is fully capital protected and so will be returned to you at the end of the three year term. The Investec Plan puts your capital at risk, with your initial investment only being returned provided the FTSE 100 Index does not fall by more than 50% during the term of the plan. So although the plan does contain some protection against a falling stock market, if it does fall by more than 50%, and also finishes the fixed term lower than its value at the start of the plan, your initial investment will be reduced by 1% for every 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Credit risk & compensation scheme

Since the repayment of your investment into the NS&I Bond is backed by HM Treasury (as opposed to a normal bank deposit falling within the limits of the FSCS), the account is considered to be 100% secure. Any investment into the Investec Plan is reliant on the bank remaining solvent for the duration of your investment since otherwise you could lose any future returns as well as some or all of your initial capital. This means its credit rating becomes an important consideration and since it is not a deposit, any investment would not be covered by the FSCS for default alone.

Compared to inflation

The current rate of inflation is 2.3%, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. There has been an increasing threat of inflation rising further in the coming months and based on the number of savings accounts which fail to match or beat inflation, this is a genuine concern.

At 2.20% AER, the NS&I Bond fails to match inflation whilst the Investec Plan offers almost double the current rate of inflation. This higher level of income is the upside for putting your capital at risk, however, if the FTSE falls by more than 50%, you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Fair Investment conclusion

Commenting on these market leading fixed rate options, Oliver Roylance-Smith, head of savings and investments at Fair Investment Company, said:

“Both options pay a fixed rate for a fixed term, regardless of the performance of the stock market, so the investor has the certainty of knowing at the outset exactly how much they will receive, when and for how long. When considering any sort of fixed rate product, it is imperative that the risks of each are fully considered and understood before committing, whether this is inflation risk, risk of capital loss or credit risk. This is in addition to the key features of the product such as the level of income on offer, how frequently it is paid and the minimum/maximum contribution levels.

He continued: “The NS&I Bond clearly offers a stand out rate when compared with other fixed rate bonds in the market of similar duration, so this in itself will make it popular. The main downside is the maximum contribution level of £3,000 so the additional interest earned from the higher rate will be relatively small. With the level of savings rates on offer across all fixed terms, there is a great deal of pressure on savers to consider alternatives and the Investec Plan is our best selling income investment, not least because it pays a fixed income which is unusual for an investment. The monthly payment frequency is also a popular feature, however in return for the high level of fixed income, your capital is at risk.”

 

The Investec FSTE 100 Enhanced Income Plan is now available for ISAs, ISA transfers and non-ISA investments, with a minimum investment of £3,000. Click here to find out more »

The NS&I Investment Guaranteed Growth Bond is now available to invest in online (non-ISA only), with a minimum investment of £100 and a maximum of £3,000. Click here to find out more »

 

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. Fair Investment Company does not offer advice and any investment transacted through us is on a non-advised basis. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

The Investec Enhanced Income Plan is a structured investment plan which is not capital protected and is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to their future performance.

Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.

AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.

Our 10 best last minute ISA ideas for 2017

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Our 10 best last minute ISA ideas

With just over one week to go until the 5th April deadline, if you’re reading this then I will assume you have left using some or all of your £15,240 ISA allowance (2016/17 tax year) to the last minute. The good news is that not only is there still time to sort out this year’s ISA allowance, some of the ideas below also allow you to sort out next year’s £20,000 ISA allowance (2017/18 tax year) as well – the Double ISA option. As time is running out, here is a quick review of our best last minute ISA ideas…

1.    Our best-selling Investment ISA

For those looking for a high level of growth but also with the opportunity to mature early or ‘kick out’ each year, the Enhanced Kick Out Plan from Investec offers 10.65% for each year invested provided the FTSE 100 Index at the end of each year is higher than its value at the start of the plan (subject to averaging). This is our best selling growth plan with ISA investors over the last 12 months and also features a Double ISA option. Capital is at risk if the FTSE falls by more than 50%. Click here for more information »

2.    Fixed income Investment ISA

Investec’s Enhanced Income Plan is a regular ISA season top seller, mainly due to it paying a fixed income of 5.04% per year regardless of what happens to the stock market. The plan also has a fixed term and monthly income payments, so you know exactly how much you will paid, when, and for how long. This plan features a Double ISA option. Capital is at risk if the FTSE 100 Index falls by more than 50%. Click here for more information »

3.    Managed Portfolio Investment ISA

The Nutmeg ISA gives investors access to fully managed, globally diversified portfolios that are regularly rebalanced. The ISA is easy to set up, and you can choose the level of risk you wish to take. Annual fees start at 0.75%, reducing to 0.35% for larger investments, and the minimum investment is just £500, although for portfolios below £5,000 they also ask for a minimum monthly contribution of £100. ISA transfers are also accepted. Capital is at risk. Click here for more information »

4.    Defensive Investment ISA best seller

The Defensive Growth Plan from Investec offers a fixed return of 34% (equivalent to 5.0% compound annual growth) plus a return of your original capital, provided the FTSE 100 Index has not fallen by 50% or more at the end of the investment term. If it has, no growth will be achieved and your capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment. This plan also features a Double ISA option. Click here for more information »

5.    High Yield Investment ISA top seller

The Meteor FTSE Contingent Income Plan pays a quarterly income of 2.05% for each quarter the FTSE 100 Index does not end less than 20% below its value at the start of the plan. So even if the FTSE falls up to 20% each quarter, you would still achieve 8.20% annual income. This plan features a Double ISA option. Capital is at risk if the FTSE has fallen by more than 40% at the end of the investment term. Click here for more information »

6.    FTSE Tracker Investment ISA

Tracker investment plans usually offer investors a multiple of any growth in the FTSE 100 Index over a set term. The newly launched FTSE Enhanced Tracker Plan from Focus offers twice the rise in the FTSE after 6 years, with no upper limit on how much it can rise. The plan could also end after just 3 years at which point, provided the FTSE has risen by at least 10%, you will receive a fixed return of 45% plus your initial investment back. This plan also features a Double ISA option. Your capital is at risk if the FTSE has fallen by more than 40% at the end of the investment term. Click here for more information »

7.    Innovative Finance (Peer to peer) ISA

The Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) is the latest type of ISA (introduced on 6th April last year) and is designed to provide a tax-free wrapper for investors in Peer-to-Peer Lending platforms. Crowd2Fund is an FCA regulated platform where your investment is used to lend to businesses that require funding. Initially, each business submits a business proposal for funding directly to Crowd2Fund and once received, their risk and due diligence team then review the proposal against their strict acceptance criteria. If successful, the business is then listed on the platform and investors pledge the amount they want to invest and the interest rate. The estimated APR (also known as the target APR) is currently 8.7%. The platform also accepts ISA transfers. Capital is at risk. Click here for more information »

8.    Junior Investment ISA

Charles Stanley offer a Stocks and Shares Junior ISA with a minimum lump sum investment of £500, or just £50 per month. They offer a fully-featured investment platform so you can tailor your portfolio as you want, alternatively they have a Foundation Fundlist which is a list of preferred funds across all of the major sectors, selected by their in house research team. There is a platform charge of 0.25% per annum with no additional charge for buying and selling funds. You can save up to £4,080 this tax year (£4,128 in 2017/18) and you can transfer in Child Trust Funds and existing Junior ISAs. Capital is at risk. Click here for more information »

9.    Self-select Investment ISA

You can open a Hargreaves Lansdown Stocks & Shares ISA with a lump sum of just £100 or you can start a monthly direct debit from just £25 per month. With their ‘Do-it-yourself’ ISA you can invest in over 2,500 funds, with no charge when you buy and sell funds and annual management charges starting at 0.45% per annum. You can also choose to invest in shares from as little as £5.95 per trade, as well as bonds, ETFs and investment trusts. Capital is at risk. Click here for more information »

10.   Low Monthly Contribution Investment ISA

If you are only looking to invest a small amount each month, The My Select (ISA) from Scottish Friendly allows you to invest from as little as £10 per month. You can stop, restart, raise or lower your payments whenever you want, and you have a range of Scottish Friendly funds to choose from including stock market and bond funds. As at 31/12/15, they look after assets worth more than £2.6 billion. Remember, the value of your investment can go down as well as up and you could get back less than your have paid in. Click here for more information »

 

Click here to compare Cash ISAs »

Click here to compare Investment ISAs »

Click here to compare our Top 10 Investment ISA plans »

Click here to compare Junior ISAs »

 

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. Fair Investment Company does not offer advice and any investment transacted through us in on a non-advised basis. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

The value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full amount invested. Different types of investment carry different levels of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.

Some of the investments mentioned are structured investment plans that are not capital protected and are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term.

Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. ISA transfer charges may apply, please check with your provider.

Top 10 Tips for 2017 ISA season

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With just over 7 weeks until the end of the tax year, now is the time to consider making good use of your ISA allowance if you have not done so already. Considering ways to shelter your hard earned cash from the tax man should be a top priority, and so this ISA season period between now and the end of the tax year is an important time for savers and investors.

To help you act and act fast, our head of savings and investments, Oliver Roylance-Smith, has put together his Top 10 tips for the 2017 ISA season, so there can be no excuse for missing out…

Tip 1 – Don’t miss any deadlines

Before you do anything else ISA-related, make sure you remember the most important end of tax year deadline which is midnight on 5th April. This is the main deadline to remember since it marks the latest date for using your ISA allowance within the current 2016/17 tax year. Remember that you cannot backdate your ISA allowance once this deadline has passed – if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Also look out for other deadlines which may apply. Many ISA providers will need your application before this date, whilst some ISA plans have an earlier deadline for ISA transfers. Some may also offer limited funding and may close early if they become oversubscribed.

Tip 2 – Know your limits…

At the start of each financial year, HMRC set a limit on the amount each individual can put into an ISA over the course of the next twelve months, between 6th April and the following 5th April. This is known as the ISA allowance. The ISA allowance for the current tax year (2016/17) stands at £15,240.

Tip 3 – Maximise your ISA allowance

You can put your entire ISA allowance into a Cash ISA, a Stocks & Shares ISA (Investment ISA) or the new Innovative Finance ISA, or any combination thereof, i.e. if you decide to use some of the allowance in one type of ISA, you can also put any remaining balance into either or both of the other types, provided the combined total is no more than the £15,240 ISA allowance. Also remember that this allowance is per person (over the age of 16 for a Cash ISA, and age 18 for an Investment ISA and Innovative Finance ISA), so a couple can invest up to £30,480 in total this tax year.

Tip 4 – Use next year’s £20,000

The ISA allowance will increase to £20,000 from 6th April 2017, so if you want to go one step better than making sure you beat this tax year’s deadline, why not sort out the following year’s ISA allowance as well? Investec Bank for example have Double ISA functionality on all of their current plans, which means you can apply for both 2016/17 and 2017/18 tax years through one application. So why not start as you mean to go on and get organised right at the start of the new tax year? – with a combined ISA allowance of up to £35,240 over the two tax years (that’s £70,480 per couple), this means one less thing to worry about as well as getting the beneficial tax treatment for the full tax year.

Tip 5 – Consider the impact of current ISA savings rates

Despite the generous increases to the overall ISA allowance in recent years, it is not all good news, especially for cash savers. This is because the increases have coincided with some of the lowest Cash ISA savings rates on record, with none paying more than the current rate of inflation (1.6%, as measured by the Consumer Price Index). Therefore many Cash ISA savers are either losing money in real terms, or having to consider taking on more risk with their capital. As a consequence, more and more ISA savers are looking towards the Stocks & Shares ISA, which has seen record subscription numbers in the last couple of years. Please note that Stocks & Shares ISAs put your capital at risk and should generally be considered as a longer term option.

Tip 6 – Remember the Personal Savings Allowance

Remember that since the start of the current tax year (6th April 2016), most people receive a personal tax free allowance for interest earnings on savings. For basic rate taxpayers, this is set at £1,000 each tax year, whilst higher rate taxpayers get an allowance of £500. Since non-Cash ISA savings rates are normally much higher than Cash ISA rates, and the interest earned by many savers now falls within the Personal Savings Allowance, this has also contributed to higher numbers using their ISA allowance for investments in the hunt for higher returns.

Tip 7 – Think about tax free income

Although the personal savings allowance has resulted in many savers not having to worry as much about the impact of tax on their overall returns, there are still other considerations and those who have existing ISAs, are higher (or additional) rate tax payers, or who might receive high levels of income from their capital in the future, should all think about using ISAs to receive tax free income. Not only does this income not need to be declared on a tax return, but income from ISAs is not included in the personal savings allowance.

Tip 8 – Review existing ISAs

It’s not in your ISA provider’s best interest to offer you the best deal year after year, and don’t rely on them making sure you are aware that your rate has gone down or that a better account or alternative investment is available because it probably won’t happen, even if it is available from the same provider. Interest rates have been in steady decline, especially for existing customers, and once you’ve deposited your hard earned cash, your ISA provider knows from experience that you’re unlikely to get round to switching providers even if your rate ceases to be competitive. Don’t be that person! It’s down to you to review your existing ISAs.

Tip 9 – Take advantage of ISA transfers

Many of us already have existing ISAs, however, like so many other savers and investors, you may find that your ISA is no longer paying a competitive rate or your investments are underperforming – this is where the ISA transfer can help. You can transfer all previous ISA holdings and most allow you to do this without charge, although don’t forget to check whether there are penalties from your existing provider. Remember that now you can transfer between Cash ISAs and Stocks & Shares ISAs without any restriction, which means that you can choose to keep all of your ISA savings and/or your investments in one place.

Tip 10 – Understand what your ISA could achieve

When considering why to try and maximise your ISA allowance, apart from sheltering your income or growth from the tax man, it is important to understand how much you could achieve over time. For example, if you had invested the maximum into an Investment ISA since the 1999/2000 tax year, and it had grown at 5% each year, you would now have a lump sum of over £250,000. This is a significant amount, with no additional liability to income or capital gains tax. Please note that the tax efficiency of ISAs is based on current tax law which is subject to change in the future.

Start a new ISA or transfer your current ISA now

The range of ISA options to choose from is significant and changing day by day in the run up to 5th April. As the end of the tax year approaches, Cash ISA providers in particular will try and persuade you that their offering is the best destination for your hard-earned money, despite this being a period of record low savings. Our range of Cash ISAs, Investment ISAs and Innovative Finance ISAs is constantly being updated and many of the savings accounts and investments are available as new ISAs and accept ISA transfers. Some also have Double ISA functionality, so you can use next year’s ISA allowance early. So start as you mean to go on, review your options carefully and make sure you make the most out of the tax-efficient returns on offer by taking action now…

 

Compare Cash ISAs »

Compare Income ISA investments »

Compare Growth ISA investments »

Compare ISA transfers »

 

Please note that this information is based on current law and practice which is subject to change.

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and legislation which are subject to change in the future. ISA transfer charges may apply, please check with your provider.

The value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full amount invested. Different types of investment carry different levels of risk and may not be suitable for all investors.

Top 10 tips for ISA savers and investors

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Since we have just passed the halfway point in the tax year, now is the perfect opportunity to review your ISA planning, whilst you still have plenty of time to do so. There are plenty of ISA opportunities out there, and since each of us (over the age of 16 for a Cash ISA, and 18 for an Investment ISA) has a healthy ISA allowance each and every year, this really should be a top priority for all savers and investors to review all existing ISAs as well as the wide range of options open to them. To help you act and act fast, our head of savings and investments, Oliver Roylance-Smith, has put together his Top 10 ISA tips, so there can be no excuse for missing out on valuable tax-efficient returns well before the end of the tax year…

Tip 1 – Know your limits…

At the start of each financial year, HMRC set a limit on the amount each individual can put into an ISA over the course of the next twelve months, between 6th April and the following 5th April. This is known as the ISA allowance. The ISA allowance for the current tax year (2016/17) stands at £15,240, which is the highest it has ever been. Also remember that this allowance is per person (over the age of 16 for a Cash ISA, and age 18 for an Investment ISA), so a couple can invest up to £30,480 in total this tax year.

Tip 2 – Consider the impact of current ISA savings rates

However, despite this generous ISA allowance it is not all good news, especially for cash ISA savers. This is because the increases to the ISA allowance in recent years has coincided with some of the lowest interest rates on record, so although there is the incentive to save, the deals on offer are far less attractive than the cash-based returns of yester-year. Therefore it is more important than ever to consider the potential impact of this on the overall returns from our capital and what impact this might have.

Tip 3 – Take a risk check

Cash ISAs protect your initial capital (and your initial deposit is normally covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme) and offer either a fixed or variable return, whilst Investment ISAs offer the opportunity for higher returns but place your capital at risk. Generally the greater risk you take with your capital, the higher the potential rewards and capital losses are.

Further to the Bank of England’s first base rate cut in seven years back in August, savers have again realised that the likelihood of any significant change to savings rates is very unlikely, and even when interest rates do start to rise there is no guarantee that this will be passed on to savers. Times have definitely changed, and this has resulted in the continued trend of record Investment ISA subscriptions as more and more ISA savers are in the hunt for higher returns. So now would be a good time to review the risk versus reward on offer from both your existing ISAs and any new ISAs you are considering.

Tip 4 – Think about tax free income

Although the personal savings allowance has resulted in many savers not having to worry as much about the impact of tax on their overall returns, there are still other considerations and those who have existing ISAs, are higher (and additional) rate tax payers, or anyone who is or may in the future take a high amount of non-dividend income from their capital, should all think about using ISAs to receive tax free income. Not only does this income not need to be declared on a tax return, but income from ISAs is not included in the personal savings allowance, so you can use additional further funds towards this.

Tip 5 – Make full use of the ISA’s flexibility

Gone are the days when there was a different limit for Cash ISAs and Investment ISAs, and for the last couple of years there has been no restriction on the amount you can put into either type – so Cash ISA savers have enjoyed the full ISA allowance. This greater flexibility means that you can put the full ISA allowance into a Cash ISA, an Investment ISA, or a mixture of the two in any proportion you choose. This allows ISA savers to give careful consideration to balancing the risk versus reward of their ISA portfolio, whilst remaining safe in the knowledge that the benefits of not paying any tax increases over time – so the more you can put away each year, the more you are likely to benefit.

Tip 6 – Get ahead of the game

Despite it being only half way through the tax year, you should always have half an eye on the 5th April end of tax year deadline. We can all be guilty of putting off until tomorrow those things which could be done today, and we all know how quickly time can fly. Remember, you cannot backdate your allowance so if you don’t use it, you lose it. In addition, the earlier in the tax year you act, the more time your cash has the potential to benefit from the tax efficient returns.

Tip 7 – Think to the future

Needless to say that in the current financial climate, every penny counts – so why pay tax on money that you can protect from the tax man, both now and in the future? Money held in an ISA has the opportunity to build on the tax-efficient returns year on year. If you had invested the maximum into a Cash ISA since they were first introduced in 1999, and you had received 2.5% per year, at the end of this tax year you would have a savings pot of almost £120,000. If you put the maximum into an Investment ISA every year, and that had grown at 6% each year, you would see a lump sum of almost £279,000. Both are sizeable amounts, none of which would be subject to income tax or capital gains tax. Please note that the tax efficiency of ISAs is based on current tax law which is subject to change in the future.

Tip 8 – Always check your current interest rate

Rates change frequently and once you’ve deposited your hard earned cash, your ISA provider knows from experience that some of you are unlikely to get round to switching providers, even if your rate ceases to be competitive. Don’t be that person! Always check the rate you are currently receiving (this should be detailed on each statement) and compare it with a wide range of other options on offer. However good your ISA deal seems at the outset, it is likely that you will need to transfer your ISA fairly frequently in order for it to remain competitive.

Tip 9 – Take advantage of ISA transfers

Many of us already have existing ISAs, however, like so many other savers and investors, you may find that your ISA is no longer paying a competitive rate or your investments are underperforming – this is where the ISA transfer can help. You can transfer all previous ISA holdings and most allow you to do this without charge, although don’t forget to check whether there are penalties from your existing provider. Remember that now you can transfer between Cash ISAs and Stocks & Shares ISAs without any restriction, which means that you can choose to keep all of your ISA savings and/or your investments in one place.

With such low interest rates, much of the increase in the numbers of Investment ISAs in the last couple of years has come from ISA transfers. The upside here is the potential for higher returns whilst the downside is that such returns are not guaranteed and your capital is at risk. Either way, don’t waste your ISA by keeping it in a low paying savings plan or poorly performing investment. There is a wide choice available.

Tip 10 – Maintain your ISA at all costs

Whilst your savings and investments remain in their tax-efficient ISA ‘wrapper’, the benefits become more and more valuable over time as the compound effect of not paying tax each year builds and builds. This is why not only should you try and maximise your ISA allowance each year, but you should also aim to make sure your ISA is the last money you dip into since as soon as you take money out of your ISA it loses these benefits.

Start a new ISA or transfer your current ISA now

The current ISA allowance is available now and many of the savings accounts and investments available through Fair Investment Company are available as new ISAs and accept ISA transfers. So start as you mean to go on, review your options carefully and make sure you benefit from up to a half a year of extra tax-efficient returns by taking action now. This also means one less thing to worry about until 6th April next year…

 

Compare Cash ISAs »

Compare Income ISA investments »

Compare Growth ISA investments »

Compare ISA transfers »

 

Please note that this information is based on current law and practice which is subject to change.

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.

The value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full amount invested. Different types of investment carry different levels of risk and may not be suitable for all investors.

Investment Focus: investment returns even if the FTSE falls 50%

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Last update: 27/09/2016

A defensive plan is simply a plan that is designed to provide an investment return even if the stock market fails to rise, or in some circumstances goes down slightly. They are therefore an option for those who would like the opportunity for investment level returns, but who are not confident the market will rise significantly in the medium term. The main feature of the Defensive Growth Plan from Investec is that returns are achieved even if the market has fallen by as much as 50% at the end of the fixed term. Here we take a closer look at the plan in order to find out why it has proved so popular with our investors.

The FTSE

Apart from a handful of days in 2015 and earlier this year, the closing level of the FTSE has been above 6,000 points since the start of 2013, and we have also seen the highest closing level on record (7,104 points), achieved towards the end of April last year. Whilst the FTSE has remained at what are historically high levels, defensive investment plans that offer the potential for investment level returns even if the stock market fails to rise or, in some scenarios, even falls slightly, have been an increasingly popular choice with our new and existing investors.

Defensive investments – a middle ground

Defensive investments attempt to offer investors the best of both worlds, by balancing less of the investment upside, with the opportunity to achieve these returns even if the market fails to rise. This means they are designed for investors who have a neutral or negative outlook of what could happen to the stock market in the coming years, and yet who would still like the opportunity to receive investment level returns. Based on the levels of the FTSE over the last few years, these arguably offer a compelling investment opportunity and Investec’s Defensive Growth Plan is one of our most popular.

In a nutshell

One of the latest additions to Investec’s highly competitive range of structured investment plans, the FTSE 100 Defensive Growth Plan offers a fixed return of 34% at the end of the six year term, provided the value of the FTSE at that point is equal to or higher than 50% of its value at the start of the plan (subject to averaging). Therefore, the FTSE can fall up to 50% and investors would still receive a 34% growth return, along with a full return of their original capital.

If the Index has fallen by more than 50% at the end of the term, no growth will be achieved and your initial capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

34% return even if the FTSE falls 50%

This is a strong headline since investors will receive a positive return, even if the FTSE falls 50%. This means that even if you are not confident the FTSE will rise at all, you could still receive a fixed return of 34% unless the FTSE falls by more than 50%.

The ‘defensive’ feature

Since the fixed return on offer is dependent on the performance of the FTSE 100 Index, the defensive element of the plan is an important one to understand. Rather than the Index having to finish higher than its value at the start of the plan, the Index can fall up to 50% and the fixed return of 34% is still paid. Whilst the FTSE continues at historically high levels, this ‘defensive’ feature could be an appealing one.

The use of averaging

Whether the plan pays the 34% fixed return is determined by comparing the value of the FTSE 100 Index at the start of the plan with its value at the end of the plan or the ‘Final Index Level’. When calculating the Final Index Level the plan takes the average of the closing levels of the Index on each business day during the last 6 months of the plan term. The use of averaging can reduce the adverse effects of a falling market or sudden market falls whilst it can also reduce the benefits of an increasing market or sudden increases in the market during the last six months of the plan.

Some capital protection from a falling market

Provided the FTSE 100 Index has not fallen by more than 50% at the end of the term, the 34% growth return is paid to you along with a full return of your initial capital. Should the Index have fallen by more than 50%, your initial investment is reduced by 1% for each 1% fall. It is important to note that in this scenario, you would lose at least 50% of your capital.

Since the market can fall up to and including 50% before your initial investment is at risk, the plan offers some capital protection against a falling market. This should be considered in conjunction with the potential return on offer when reviewing the plan’s overall risk versus reward.

Defined risk and defined returns

Another feature of this plan is that, as with all structured investments, the potential returns are stated up front, prior to investing. This allows the investor to consider the potential upside in the context of the amount of risk they are taking, since you know at the outset exactly what needs to happen in order to receive the stated level of growth as well as a return of your initial investment.

ISA only

Please note that this plan is only available as an ISA. The plan also accepts ISA transfers, from both Cash ISAs and Stocks & Shares ISAs.

Credit ratings and agencies

This plan is a structured investment and so your initial capital is used to purchase securities issued by Investec Bank plc. These securities are structured in a way so that they provide the growth and return of capital as described above, which means that Investec Bank plc’s ability to meet their financial obligations becomes an important investment consideration. If the bank fails or becomes insolvent, this could affect both the payment of any growth return as well as the return of your original investment and you would not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for default alone.

Fitch is one of the main global credit rating agencies and has rated Investec Bank plc with a credit rating of BBB with a stable outlook (awarded 27th October 2015). The ‘BBB’ rating denotes a good credit quality and indicates that expectations of default risk are currently low and that Investec Bank plc’s capacity for payment of its financial commitments is considered to be adequate but adverse business or economic conditions are more likely to impair this capacity. The stable outlook indicates that the rating is not expected to change in the short to medium term, i.e. in the next 6 months to 2 years.

Investec Bank plc profile

Investec is an international specialist bank and asset manager with its main operations in the UK and South Africa. Established in 1974, they currently employ around 9,000 people and as at 31st March 2016, look after £121.7 billion of customer assets. They provide a range of financial products and services and specialise in a number of areas, particularly within the banking sector. Their banking operation looks after £24.0 billion of customer deposits and they are also a market leading provider of investment plans and structured deposits in the UK.

Fair Investment view

Commenting on the plan, Oliver Roylance-Smith, head of savings and investment at Fair Investment Company Limited, said: “The ability to produce a 34% fixed return even if the market falls by 50% puts this plan in a category of its own, since most other defensive investments still require the FTSE to fall by no more than 20%.The risk versus reward of the plan is known at the outset and is relatively easy to understand, whilst by offering a competitive return even if the FTSE falls by up to half this plan is one of our best selling defensive investments. So for those who are not confident the stock market will continue to rise in the coming years, this plan could make for a compelling opportunity.”

The plan is open for New ISA investments up to the £15,240 allowance for the current tax year (2016/17) as well as Cash ISA and Stocks & Shares ISA transfers. The minimum investment is £3,000.

 

Click here for more information about the Investec FTSE 100 Defensive Growth Plan »

 

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring or switching an ISA.

This is a structured investment plan that is not capital protected and is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.

Top 10 reasons to consider kick out investment plans

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As at the end of last week, the range for the closing levels of the FTSE 100 Index over the previous 52 weeks was between 5537.0 and 6941.2, a difference of 1404.2 points. So whilst the UK’s index of leading blue chip companies remains as volatile as ever, there is one type of investment plan that continues to be a popular choice with our investors. Kick out plans offer a defined return for a defined level of risk, which combined with the opportunity to mature early mean they can offer a compelling opportunity in a wide range of investment climates.

Whilst many investors find it harder to commit when markets are seemingly more unpredictable than normal, or as has happened over the last couple of month has been on a relatively steady upwards trajectory, kick out investments remain popular regardless of what is happening to the stock market. With this in mind, we give you our Top 10 reasons to consider a kick out investment plan.

1.  Defined return, defined risk

With kick out plans the potential returns on offer, as well as what needs to happen to provide these returns, is known up front before you commit your capital – a defined return for a defined level of risk. The investor therefore has the benefit of knowing at the outset the conditions that need to be met in order to provide the stated returns. This allows the investor to consider the potential upside in the context of the amount of risk they are taking, which can then be used to make an informed decision about whether to invest or not.

2.  Early maturity

These plans have a maximum fixed term which is normally six years, but the term ‘kick out’ refers to their ability to mature early depending on the movement of the underlying investment (for example, the FTSE 100 Index). The potential to mature early is usually every 12 months after the start of the plan, with the first opportunity normally occurring at the end of year one or year two. If early maturity does occur, investors receive an attractive level of growth along with a full return of their initial capital. This structure has proved popular in all types of market conditions.

3.  Potential for high returns

In addition to the opportunity for early maturity it is no doubt the potential for high growth returns that also contribute to the ongoing popularity of kick out plans. With most plans offering high single digit or even double digit returns for each year invested (not compounded), the opportunity can be a compelling one, especially since what has to happen to the stock market in order to provide these returns is known at the very outset.

4.  Investment returns even if the market stays relatively flat

Most plans offer the ability to kick out at the end of each year provided the level of the underlying investment at that time is higher than its level at the start of the plan. So if you’re not convinced the markets will rise in the future, and yet still wish to achieve investment level returns, this can be a compelling investment story and is perhaps why this type of investment has proved particularly popular while the FTSE remains at what are historically high levels.

Click here to compare kick out investment plans »

5.  Potential to beat the market

Should a kick out plan be designed to mature early provided the level of the FTSE 100 Index (or other underlying investment) at the end of each year is higher than its value at the start of the plan, then provided the Index has gone up, even if this is by a small amount, you will receive the headline return along with a full repayment of your initial capital. In the scenario where the stock market has only risen by a very small amount, then it is likely that this type of investment would have outperformed the market. This may appeal to those investors who are not confident the market will rise significantly in the coming years, which seems to be a more popular sentiment when markets are at historically high levels.

6.  FTSE linked

Many kick out investment plans are linked to the performance of the FTSE 100 Index, which is widely recognised as the proxy benchmark for most investment managers in the UK. Since the historical volatility of this Index is familiar to many investors, they are in a better position to consider the pros and cons of the plan within the context of the underlying investment and the associated risks involved.

7.  Investment returns even if the market falls slightly

There are also kick out plans that will provide competitive growth returns even if the underlying investment falls slightly, for example up to 10% or 20%. These so called ‘defensive’ kick out plans thereby cater for an even wider range of investor views in terms of what could happen to the stock market in the coming years – the current range of defensive plans offering the potential for high growth returns even if the FTSE falls up to 20%. Again, whilst the FTSE has remained at historically high levels, this has proved to be a popular feature.

Click here to compare defensive kick out investment plans »

8.  Some capital protection from a falling market

Your original capital is returned if the plan kicks out but should this fail to occur, and no growth is achieved, typically your capital will be returned provided the underlying investment has not fallen below a certain amount. This amount is normally a percentage of its value at the start of the plan, usually in the region of 40% or 50%. To put this into context, for a plan which offers a return of capital unless the FTSE falls by more than 50%, then based on last Friday’s closing value of 6838.10, the Index would have to fall to a closing level of 3419.05 before your capital would be at risk, a level not seen since early 2003. However, if it does fall below 50% you could lose some or all of your initial capital. Please also remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance.

9.  No annual management charges

Unlike investment funds, the charges for creating and managing kick out plans are already taken into account so there are no annual management charges which come out of the headline return. The costs associated with the management of funds happens each and every year (in both actively managed and tracker funds), which may help to explain the number of funds which fail to outperform the FTSE 100 Index or other benchmark, especially over a five or six year period. This ongoing cost is not a feature of kick out plans. Most kick out investments will though have an initial charge, normally up to a maximum of 3%.

10. A disciplined approach

Finally, the mechanics of these investments removes the need for the investor to worry about when to come out of the market since the decision is made for them by the pre-determined market conditions required for the plan to mature or it simply comes to the end of the plan term. Should the plan mature, the investor then has the opportunity to reassess their options based on the market conditions at that time.

ISA friendly

All of the kick out plans offered through Fair Investment Company are available to individuals as a New ISA up to the current limit of £15,240 (2016/17 tax year) and will also accept transfers from both Cash ISAs and Stocks & Shares ISAs (as well as non-ISA investments). Since these investments are normally offered for a limited period, always note any New ISA or ISA transfer application deadlines.

Understand counterparty risk

One of the main differences with structured investment plans when compared with other types of investments, such as funds or investment trusts, is that your capital is used to purchase securities and it is these securities which are designed to produce the stated returns on offer. These securities are normally issued by a bank which means that your investment is held with a single institution rather than split between a number of companies, as it would be within an investment fund. This means the risk of the bank becoming insolvent and therefore unable to repay your original investment along with any stated returns becomes a factor to consider – this is known as counterparty risk. Since the counterparty is usually a bank, the credit rating is normally available so a view can be taken on the potential risk involved. There are also plans which aim to reduce this counterparty risk by spreading it across a number of institutions.

Latest selections

Kick out investment plans offer the potential for high returns balanced with conditional capital protection, with our latest selections offering a wide range of counterparties, collateralised versions as well as ‘defensive’ plans giving investors plenty of choice. We also have a number of kick out investments for our existing customers and those more experienced investors where you will find a range of dual Index plans which offer a higher risk versus reward, with current headline returns of up to 14% after 12 months.

 

Click here for our latest kick out investment plans »

Click here for our latest defensive kick out investments »

Click here for our experienced investor section »

 

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.

Kick out investment plans are structured investment plans that are not capital protected and are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.

Fixed returns – our round up of the latest fixed rate options

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Last updated: 30/08/2016

For those who want to know exactly how much they will receive, when and for how long, the traditional deposit-based fixed rate bond has long been one of the safest and most popular choices for many. But with interest rates on savings remaining at record lows, and with the possibility of this getting even or fixed worse as we get to grips with the post-Brexit environment, many more are starting to consider the wider range of products offering a fixed return. So whether it is the more traditional fixed rate bond rate Cash ISA, or you are looking to put your capital at risk in return for a higher fixed income, we take a look at a number of options as well as give you a round-up of the latest offerings.

Short term: up to 2 years

Fixed rate bonds

For those looking at the shortest fixed terms, Habib Bank Zurich offer a 6 Month Fixed Rate Deposit paying 0.80% AER, whilst they also offer a higher rate of 1.10% AER if you can tie your money up for a year, with their 12 Month Fixed Rate Deposit. Both products have a relatively low minimum of £1,000 and your deposit is eligible for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Interest is paid at maturity and as is standard with most fixed term deposits, no withdrawals are permitted during the term of the bond.

Bank of Cyprus UK offer a top rate of 1.40% AER if you fix for 2 years, although they have a slightly higher minimum of £10,000 whereas Habib Bank will offer 1.35% AER with their 24 Month Fixed Rate Deposit but with a lower minimum of £1,000. Both pay interest at maturity and eligible deposits are covered by the UK FSCS.

Fixed rate Cash ISA

Bank of Cyprus UK offer a 2 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA paying 1.20% AER, and only marginally higher at 1.30% AER if your fix for 3 years, both with a low minimum deposit of just £500. These accounts are available to anyone aged 16 or over and interest is paid annually. ISA transfers are permitted and eligible deposits are covered by the UK FSCS.

Medium term: 3 to 4 years

Fixed rate bonds

In the three to four year space, our top deal comes again from Bank of Cyprus UK with their 3 Year Fixed Rate paying 1.50% AER. The minimum deposit is £10,000 and interest is paid on maturity. For those looking for a lower minimum or more frequent payment of interest, AXIS Bank UK’s 3 Year Fixed Term Deposit also pays 1.50% AER but with a £1,000 minimum (£200,000 maximum) and offers monthly, quarterly, annually or at maturity interest options. No withdrawals are permitted from either account.

Fixed rate Cash ISA

Bank of Cyprus remain very competitive in the fixed rate Cash ISA market with their 3 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA currently paying 1.30% AER and with a respectable minimum deposit of just £500. This account also allows you to transfer in existing ISAs from other providers.

Longer term: 5 years +

Fixed rate bonds

Although you are still rewarded with higher savings rates in return for locking your money away for longer, the interest rate gap between short term and longer term is also at record lows. For those prepared to commit their savings for five years, Vanquis Bank’s 5 Year Fixed Rate Bond is paying 2.20% AER. The minimum deposit is £1,000 and interest can be paid monthly or annually.

Savings rates at record lows…

Unfortunately the UK’s decision to leave the EU has had an impact on what were already record low interest rates on offer. Combined with the talk of the Bank of England potentially cutting the Bank Rate for the first time since 2009, and the outlook for many who rely on more traditional fixed term deposits is bleak to say the least.

To put this into context, 12 months ago we wrote about a 1 year fixed rate paying 1.90% AER, a 2 year paying 2.38% AER and a 3 year paying 2.50% AER . We are now looking at 1.25%, 1.60% and 1.65% AERs respectively. These are significant reductions of up to 34% on what were already historically low returns, with the biggest falls being felt at the longer term end of the market. This is why more and more are looking at a wider range of options, which inevitably leads one to consider investments.

Fixed income investments

The income from collective investments (such as funds) invariably comes from investing in a number of equities, bonds and commercial properties, which provide income in the form of dividends, interest and rental yields. Combined with the fluctuation in value of the underlying asset, be this a share, bond or property, then by its very nature the value is neither fixed nor guaranteed, and so such investments normally only offer a variable income.

Fixed income, fixed term

Investors have therefore always struggled to find an investment that actually pays a fixed income, which perhaps partly helps to explain why the Enhanced Income Plan from Investec has been our most popular income investment. The plan offers a fixed income, which is paid to you regardless of the performance of the stock market, whilst the investment also has a fixed term, so you know exactly how much you will be paid and for how long. The current issue offers 5.04% fixed income each year, which is paid as 0.42% each month.

This investment includes conditional capital protection which means that your initial capital is retuned in full unless the FTSE 100 Index falls by more than 50% during the plan term. If it does, and also finishes the fixed term lower than its value at the start of the plan, your initial investment will be reduced by 1% for every 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

The Enhanced Income Plan is also available as an ISA and accepts ISA transfers with a minimum investment of £3,000.

Cash versus investment

The most important difference between the fixed rate bond and the fixed income investment is that with the former, your capital is treated as a deposit and is therefore protected and returned to you at the end of the term, subject to the bank in question remaining solvent. An investment into the Enhanced Income Plan is used to purchase securities issued by Investec Bank plc, which means the bank’s ability to meet and repay their financial obligations is equally an important consideration. However, as highlighted above the return of your capital is also dependent on the performance of the FTSE 100 Index, therefore your capital is not protected and is at risk.

Peer to Peer

One particular area where we have seen a significant rise in the number of the offerings is Peer to Peer lending, some of which offer fixed rates of interest. In simple terms, peer to peer lenders match people who want to earn interest on their money with people who want to borrow money. This means that both lenders and borrowers can benefit from interest rates that are better than those found on the high street, whether from conventional fixed rate accounts or from bank loans.

Fixed interest

One of the earliest and perhaps best known Peer to Peer lenders offering fixed interest is Wellesley & Co. Here your investment is combined with funds from other investors and then lent out to individuals and businesses investing in property – so every loan is secured against tangible assets such as residential or commercial property. They then use the interest paid by them to pay competitive rates to investors. Wellesley have lent out over £336m to date.

The current rates (based on receiving monthly interest) are 2.95%, 3.30% and 3.70% over 1, 2 and 3 years respectively. You also have the option to receive interest at maturity, offering up to 3.75% annual interest. Compared to deposit-based fixed rate bonds these headline rates are attractive however these are capital at risk investments, and so you could lose some or all of your initial investment and interest payments are no guaranteed if the borrower fails to repay the loan. Peer to Peer lending is also not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Risk v reward

The principle of risk versus reward means that the search for higher fixed returns leads to the need to consider putting your capital at risk. A good benchmark for assessing your fixed rate investment is to compare what you could get from a fixed rate deposit over a similar timeframe and then consider whether you are prepared to accept the level of risk to your capital in return for the higher fixed rate.

Our best three and five year fixed rates are currently offering 1.85% and 2.20% respectively. By accepting risk to your capital, Wellesley would offer fixed interest of 3.70% over three years whilst the Investec plan offers 5.04% over six years, thereby doubling your fixed return over three year and increasing it by 2.84% a year over the longer term. Once you have understood how each plan works, the decision then is whether you are comfortable with putting your capital at risk in return for the higher fixed returns on offer.

 

Compare fixed rate bonds »

Compare fixed rate Cash ISAs »

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Find out more about the Investec Enhanced Income Plan »

 

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.

The Investec Enhanced Income Plan is a structured investment plan which is not capital protected and is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index or any shares listed within the Index is not a guide to their future performance.

Peer to peer savings accounts are not the same as normal savings accounts so you need to consider the features before you invest. Investment through Wellesley & Co involves lending to individuals or companies and therefore your capital is at risk and interest payments are not guaranteed if the borrower fails to repay the loan. In that event, Wellesley Finance would attempt to recover the funds outstanding. However, such security arrangements do not guarantee full return of capital and income. Peer-to-Peer lending is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.

BREXIT and the FTSE: defensive investment plans rise to the challenge

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Last updated: 11/10/2016

The recent decision made by the UK to leave the European Union has unsurprisingly forced many investors to reconsider their options, especially since there remains so much uncertainty around the potential impact of this decision on our economic growth and stability. Regardless of whether you were for remaining or leaving, taking a view on what might happen to the FTSE in the short to medium term is certainly something on the minds of many. With this in mind, we take a look at a selection of defensive investments to find out exactly what they have to offer and how the risk versus reward might be appealing for those who are concerned about the impact Brexit may have on future investment opportunities.

What is a defensive plan?

Defensive plans offer the potential for investment level returns, even if the stock market goes down, in some cases by up to 50%. Partly as a result of the FTSE continuing at historically high levels in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of plans that offer a competitive return even in the event that the market fails to rise. These are commonly known as defensive investment plans and for those who are not confident that the market will continue to rise in the medium term, they have become an increasingly popular investment opportunity.

Different types

Although each plan has its own features, collectively they are growth investments which offer the potential for either a fixed return for every year invested (not compounded), or a fixed return at the end of the full term, both of which are dependent on the performance of the underlying investment, usually the FTSE 100 Index. Each of these investments will be structured to offer a defined return for a defined level of risk, and as such you will know from the outset exactly what must happen in order to receive the stated returns on offer.

A middle ground

Defensive investments therefore try and offer the best of both worlds by offering the potential for investment level returns, even if the underlying investment only rises by a small amount, stays flat, or goes down slightly. This means they are designed for investors who have a neutral or negative outlook of what could happen to the stock market in the coming years, and yet who would still like the opportunity to receive the potential for investment level returns. Here is a selection of the current range of defensive plans on offer:

Returns even if the FTSE falls up to 10%

If the FTSE had fallen by 5% in 3 years time and yet you still received 24.0% growth plus a return of your initial capital, would you consider this a good investment? The Investec FTSE 100 Defensive Kick Out Plan has a maximum term of six years but will kick out (mature early) at the end of each year from year 3 onwards, provided the FTSE is above 90% of its value at the start of the plan. If it is, then you will receive 8.0% for each year invested (not compounded). If the Index has fallen by 10% or more, your investment continues.

If the plan does not produce a return, your initial capital is returned in full unless the Index has fallen by 50% or more, measured at the end of the plan term. If it has, your capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall and so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Returns even if the FTSE falls up to 20%

Our next defensive plan is another kick out plan, the FTSE Defensive Kick Out from Focus, and will kick out and return your initial investment along with 7.15% for each year invested (not compounded) provided the FTSE 100 is at the required level at the end of each year, from year 2 onwards. The required level is 100% of its starting value at the end of year two, reducing by 5% in each of the following years down to 80% in the final year. So the FTSE could fall up to 20% and you would still receive 7%+ returns on your investment.

If the Index closes below the required level each year, no growth return will be paid and your initial capital will be returned in full unless the FTSE has fallen by more than 40% at the end of the term. If it has, your initial investment would be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, and so you could lose some or all of your investment.

Returns even if the FTSE falls up to 50%

Our final defensive investment is the Investec FTSE 100 Defensive Growth Plan, which offers a fixed return of 34% at the end of the investment term provided the value of the FTSE is more than 50% of its value at the start of the plan (subject to averaging). Therefore, the FTSE can fall up to 50% and investors would still receive a 34% growth return, along with a full return of their original capital. The 34% return is equivalent to 5.0% compound annual growth.

If the Index has fallen by 50% or more at the end of the term, no growth will be achieved and your initial capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Fair Investment view

Commenting on defensive investment plans, Oliver Roylance-Smith, head of savings and investments at Fair Investment Company said: “Despite the recent volatility in the FTSE the Index currently remains at historically high levels, but for those investors who are not confident that the market will rise in the medium term, knowing that you can achieve investment returns regardless of whether the market goes up, remains flat, or even falls slightly, could be an attractive opportunity.”

He continued: “Markets don’t like uncertainty, and so it is understandable that investors are going to consider, perhaps more than normal, the potential impact of leaving the EU on the FTSE in the medium term. Since the market can fall up to 40% before your initial investment is at risk, defensive plans also offer some capital protection against a falling market, and allow potential investors to consider the risk versus reward of the plan prior to investing, which could be appealing in the current investment climate.”

 

More information on the Investec FTSE 100 Defensive Kick Out Plan »

More information on the Focus FTSE Defensive Kick Out Plan »

More information on the Investec FTSE Defensive Growth Plan (ISA only) »

Click here to compare defensive investment plans »

 

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.

These are structured investment plans that are not capital protected and are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is also a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.