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150 years of history, but why buy an investment trust today?

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13/03/2018
The investment trust industry is celebrating 150 years since the launch of the first investment company (the Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust, in 1868). Here are four reasons why you might want to consider an investment trust for your portfolio.

Income – There are now 21 investment companies that have increased their dividend consecutively each year for 20 years or more. Companies leading the pack include, City of London Investment Trust, Bankers Investment Trust and Alliance Trust, which have all increased their dividends every year for 51 years, followed by Caledonia Investments which has increased its dividend for 50 years.

Investment trusts can reserve income in ‘fat’ years to pay it out in ‘lean’ years, which helps to ensure payouts are consistent for investors.

Growth – Some of the very best fund managers are only available via investment trusts. These include Nick Train of the Finsbury Growth and Income trust, James Anderson at Scottish Mortgage and the managers of the Ruffer Investment Company. These managers have been delivering strong returns for investors over many years.

Investment trusts allow fund managers more investment freedom. They are closed-ended, which means they do not have to buy and sell investments to meet inflows and outflows.

Unusual investments – The closed-ended structure is better suited to investments that don’t have a lot of liquidity i.e. they are more difficult to buy and sell. This might include smaller companies, companies in certain emerging markets, property or niche assets such as timber.

Investment trusts have been a useful way to get access to income-generative investments such as infrastructure in recent years.

Cost – Investment trusts have tended to be cheaper than their unit trust/OEIC equivalents. This isn’t always true anymore, but investment trusts have generally been good at keeping costs lower. At the same time, some investment trusts have really good savings schemes. They are often super-cheap, and let you contribute as little as £50 a quarter. Witan would be a good example. Baillie Gifford has a good range of trusts, and decades of experience.

Annabel Brodie-Smith, communications director of the Association of Investment Companies, said:Investment trusts’ pioneering spirit has enabled investors to access growth opportunities in new markets and sectors around the world and have delivered strong and reliable dividends for income seekers. The fact that 23 investment companies have track records going back over 100 years shows how the sector has stood the test of time. It’s interesting too that investment companies are just as innovative today, with 17 investment companies launched since 2017 as the sector continues to adapt to meet investors’ needs.”

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