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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.