The Motley Fool

Investment trusts: the advantages and disadvantages

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Cogs turning against each other
Image source: Getty Images.

Investment trusts are often regarded as one of the best-kept secrets in the investment management industry. Traded on the stock market like regular stocks, these collective investment funds enable investors to gain exposure to a broad range of companies or assets in a cost-effective way.

However, like any investment, such trusts have their pros and cons. With that in mind, here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of them.

5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!

According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…

And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential...

Advantages

One of the main advantages of investment trusts is their cost-effectiveness. While you do have to pay trading commissions when you buy or sell (usually around £10 or so), what you avoid are the fund platform fees that investment providers charge when you hold regular open-ended funds. Hargreaves Lansdown, for example, currently charges 0.45% per year on open-ended funds for accounts with balances up to £250,000. Avoiding these kinds of fees can make a big difference to your wealth over time.

Investment trusts’ ongoing charges also tend to be quite attractive. For example, the City of London Investment Trust currently has a low ongoing charge of just 0.39%. There are not many open-ended, actively-managed funds with fees that low. Overall, investment trusts can be very cost-effective.

Another advantage of investment trusts is that they are closed-ended. This means that the portfolio manager of the trust has a fixed amount of capital to invest (although some trusts can use leverage). This is beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, because investors can’t suddenly demand their money back, portfolio managers don’t need to worry about holding cash for redemptions. This can minimise cash drag and potentially boost performance. Portfolio managers can also take a longer-term view. 

Investment trusts also have advantages when it comes to dividend payments as they are able to retain 15% of the income they receive each year and use the retained income to boost dividends in leaner years. As a result, many investment trusts have outstanding long-term dividend growth track records. City of London, for example, has increased its dividend every year for over 50 years now.

Finally, investment trusts are structured so that they have an independent board that is responsible for safeguarding investors. This is advantageous as it protects investors from issues such as poor-performing portfolio managers.

Disadvantages

On the downside, one issue to be aware of with investment trusts is that because of their closed-ended structure, they can trade at premiums or discounts to their net asset value (NAV). This can add complications. For example, a top-performing investment trust may trade at a significant premium, meaning you have to pay extra to acquire the assets in the trust. Similarly, a poor-performing trust may trade at a significant discount, which is not ideal if you’re already an owner of the trust (although it could be beneficial if you’re looking to buy).

Gearing (the ability to borrow to invest more) is another issue to consider with investment trusts. Not all of them use gearing, but plenty do. While gearing can boost gains when the market is rising, it can increase losses when markets are falling.

Overall, weighing up the advantages and disadvantages, investment trusts have considerable appeal, in my view. For those looking for cost-effective exposure to the stock market, I think they’re a great way to invest.

5 Stocks For Trying To Build Wealth After 50

Markets around the world are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic…

And with so many great companies trading at what look to be ‘discount-bin’ prices, now could be the time for savvy investors to snap up some potential bargains.

But whether you’re a newbie investor or a seasoned pro, deciding which stocks to add to your shopping list can be daunting prospect during such unprecedented times.

Fortunately, The Motley Fool is here to help: our UK Chief Investment Officer and his analyst team have short-listed five companies that they believe STILL boast significant long-term growth prospects despite the global lock-down…

You see, here at The Motley Fool we don’t believe “over-trading” is the right path to financial freedom in retirement; instead, we advocate buying and holding (for AT LEAST three to five years) 15 or more quality companies, with shareholder-focused management teams at the helm.

That’s why we’re sharing the names of all five of these companies in a special investing report that you can download today for FREE. If you’re 50 or over, we believe these stocks could be a great fit for any well-diversified portfolio, and that you can consider building a position in all five right away.

Click here to claim your free copy of this special investing report now!

Edward Sheldon owns shares in Hargreaves Lansdown. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Hargreaves Lansdown. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Our 6 'Best Buys Now' Shares

Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.

So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we're offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our 'no quibbles' 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee.

Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this.