Alternative investments

For something a little different

When conducting financial planning there are a few investments that are the mainstay of the industry and used by the public, through Financial Advisers, inside products. These would include Cash, Gilts, Corporate bonds and Stocks and Shares purchased inside Unit Trusts / OEICs inside products like Pension, Stocks and Shares ISA’s and Investment Bonds. One would conclude then that investments outside this traditional arena would be an ‘alternative’ to the conventional format.

For those people that are comfortable with the amounts they putting aside to support themselves in later life and are looking to do a little extra there are a number of opportunities available to them which might be quite interesting.

For those who are more concerned about capital or income security Protected and Guaranteed products are available. These can be incorporated in the more conventional routes above but can also be a more stand-alone proposing to support separate objectives. 

The following are a short list of opportunities, not proposing to be classed as advice to people and not an exhaustive list, but more as an understanding of flexibility and opportunities.

  • There are Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) have been around since the 1990’s and started on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada. Now in over 4,400 products and with over $2.9trn total investment (March 2015 Investment Weekly) they have come a long way since their start. These can be enrolled into modern portfolio investment management or as a standalone investment.
  • Investment Trusts are probably one of the oldest forms of equity investment in the UK and have been around since the 1860’s. These are Closed Ended Funds and offer investment opportunities outside the conventional format, but as geared products the results can be magnified both up and down.
  • You can also invest in commercial property either through conventional property funds in Pensions or Stocks and Shares ISA, or through Retail Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Alternatively clients may wish to buy commercial property as a whole, either singularly or through a syndicate and you can do this through a Self Investment Personal Pension (SIPP). The SIPP itself can then borrow money according to its fund value and the borrowing rule at that time to make the overall purchase if needed.**
  • For those with a more adventurous appetite or for clients looking to utilise tax opportunities there are Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS’s) or Venture Capital Trusts (VCT’s). The Alternative Investment Market (AIM) can also provide Inheritance Tax saving Opportunities.*

To ensure that this works effectively into the future when you need it most, it is possible that some work will be required involving trusts.

For all of the above a meeting with an adviser would be necessary to ensure the appropriateness of the investment for the client.

* The levels, bases and reliefs from taxation are subject to the individual circumstances of the Investor.

** It may be difficult to sell or realise the investment, or obtain information about its value, or the extent of the risks to which it is exposed.  Property is a specialist sector which can be volatile in adverse market conditions and there could be delays in realinsing the investments.  Property valuation is a matter of judgement by an independent valuer therefore it is generally a matter of opinion rather than fact.  The value of property and other investmetns for income and growth can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount  they originally invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and should nto be used to assess the risk associated with the investment.