Whatever questions you have, we’re here to help.
If you’re a private investor
Please note we can answer queries about our product range and how to invest. However, we cannot offer financial advice. If you require guidance on which investments are suitable for you, please contact a qualified and regulated financial adviser.
Investor Helpline - UK (freephone)
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0808 500 4000
Investor Helpline – International
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+44 012 6844 8222
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abrdn Investment Trusts
PO Box 11020
If you're a professional investor
Contact our team to discuss your investment trust requirements.
Investment Trust Sales Associate
If you're a journalist with a media enquiry regarding our investment trusts, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com
If you have any complaint about abrdn investment trusts or the service you have received from us, you can contact us in the following ways:
The Complaints Team
abrdn Investment Trusts
PO Box 11020
By telephone (if you’re in the UK)
0808 500 4000
By telephone (if you’re overseas)
+44 1268 44 82 22
Financial Ombudsman Service
We aim to respond within 5 days of receiving a complaint. If we cannot resolve it to your satisfaction, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, a national service to sort out financial disputes. You can contact the service at:
Financial Ombudsman Service
UK helpline: 0800 023 4567
If calling from overseas: +44 20 7964 0500
More info: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
All about investment trusts
What is an investment trust?
An investment trust is a type of investment fund. It is structured as a public limited company – or PLC. Its shares can be bought and sold on the stock exchange, just like other public limited companies. Investment trusts have been around since the 1860s, making them one of the oldest types of investment fund around.
Investment trusts look to make returns for their shareholders by managing a portfolio of investments. Every investment trust has a formal investment objective which details which markets or sectors they invest in. The objective will also indicate if the trust aims to deliver capital growth, income or a mix of both.
What are the features of investment trusts?
As a public limited company (PLC), investment trusts offer some important features:
Tradable shares – You can invest in an investment trust by buying its shares and becoming a ‘shareholder’. This entitles you to vote on issues affecting the company and to receive any dividend that the company chooses to pay out. The share price of an investment trust can rise and fall – which also offers the potential for your investment to rise or fall in value.
Dividends – Like other PLCs, investment trusts may pay their shareholders an annual ‘dividend’ out of the profits they make from their investments. Dividends are not guaranteed and can rise and fall from year to year. Investment trusts can smooth out their income payments by holding back profits in good years to pay out in poorer years.
Board – Each investment trust has a board of directors and a chair to oversee the operation of the company and that it is managed in the best interests of shareholders. The board has the power to set charges and costs on the trust and appoint (or fire) an asset manager to manage the portfolio.
Discounts & premiums – A trust’s share price is driven by investor demand in the marketplace. So it can be higher (at a premium) or lower (at a discount) than the value of its underlying assets. This is a big difference from other types of funds such as unit trusts and Open Ended Invesment Companies, whose price directly mirrors their underlying portfolio.
Gearing – Investment trusts can borrow money to invest, as well as using their share capital. This can help generate additional returns for investors – but it can also potentially increase losses and make the value of the portfolio more volatile. So it’s important to check the level of gearing is right for you.
AGMs and annual reports – Investment trusts keep their shareholders informed about their performance through half-yearly and annual reports and by holding an annual general meeting (AGM). At the AGM, shareholders can hear from the board and investment manager and vote on issues. They can also propose motions in advance to be voted on.
What are the benefits of investment trusts?
Like other types of investment fund, investment trusts offer important benefits such as:
- A team of professionals to choose investments on your behalf
- A ready-made portfolio holding a range of different investments which can help spread risk
- A clear investment objective – so you can choose which trust is right for you
- A price that can (usually) be tracked daily so you can follow your performance.
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to know more about investment trusts and how they work, visit the AIC website.*
*This is an external site. abrdn is not responsible for its content.
Answers to common questions about investment trusts and investing in them.
The biggest difference is that as a company listed on the stock market, an investment company is ‘closed-ended’ and has a fixed number of shares in issue. Unit trusts and OEICs are ‘open-ended’ – they can create and cancel units/shares as investors want to join or leave the fund.
Because investment companies don’t have to worry about creating or liquidating investor’s shares at short notice, they can take a really long-term view of their investments and more readily invest in less liquid investments such as property, infrastructure and unlisted companies.
But a fixed number of shares also means the share price is driven by investor demand and so can be higher (at a ‘premium’) or lower (at a ‘discount’) than the value of its investment portfolio. The unit/share price of an OEIC or unit trust will directly track the value of its underlying investments.
Because investment companies are public limited companies, they offer their investors – or shareholders – other benefits that unit trusts and OEICs don’t. These include an independent board to oversee shareholder interests and an annual general meeting where shareholders can vote on issues affecting the company.
Investment companies listed on the London Stock Exchange are subject to the rules of the UK Listing Authority. These address executive pay, corporate governance (how an investment company is controlled) and disclosure of information about the company.
If investment company shares are held in a packaged product such as a share plan, ISA or pension, the product provider must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which means it must operate to certain standards and investors have access to a compensation scheme if they lose money through company failure, and to an ombudsman scheme to settle complaints.
At any one time an investment company share will have a bid price (to buy it) and an offer price (to sell it back). The bid price is higher than the sell price. The difference between the two is the share-dealing service’s profit and helps finance its service. When a lot of shares are exchanging hands, the difference between the bid and offer price can be very small. If trading activity is low, the bid-offer spread can tend to widen.
Like any publicly listed company, shares can be purchased through an online investment platform or stockbroker. Investment companies such as abrdn offer their own share plans where you can invest a one-off sum or regular monthly amounts.
These refer to the difference between the value of an investment company’s shares and its net asset value (the value of its underlying portfolio). If a company’s shares are trading at a higher value than its net asset value per share, it is said to be at a premium. If the share price is lower than the net asset value, it is trading at a discount. Investment companies tend to trade at a premium when their shares are in strong demand and at a discount when demand declines. Typically, most investment companies trade at a small discount to their net asset value.
Experienced and professional investors often look to buy investment company shares at a discount to their net asset value in the anticipation that the discount will reduce. But concerns can arise over investment company shares that persistently trade at a big discount as investors are unable to realise the true value of the underlying investments.
In this case, the investment company may take measures to narrow the discount. These may include buying back shares in order to increase the value of those that remain in the market.
When you buy shares through an online investment platform, the platform may typically buy shares for you digitally through a ‘nominee account’. This nominee account becomes the registered owner of the shares. So it’s important to check whether a platform will pass on shareholder rights such as receiving the annual report and being able to attend and vote at annual general meetings.
An offshore investment company is one that’s registered in an offshore UK centre such as Jersey or Guernsey although it may still be listed on the London Stock Exchange. Many offshore investment companies were set up in the past as a more tax-efficient way to invest in assets such as property and bonds. At the time, income on such assets was subject to tax if a company was registered in the UK but not if it was registered offshore.
However, recent changes to the tax rules have made it easier for companies investing in these assets to be based in the UK.
But there are still differences between onshore and offshore investment companies. Firstly, 0.5% stamp duty is payable on shares purchased in an onshore investment company but not in an offshore company’s shares. Secondly, an onshore investment company cannot invest more than 15% of its gross assets (at the time of investment) in any one single holding. No such limit applies to Channel Islands-registered companies and there are also different rules on what can be distributed from an offshore investment company.
Gearing refers to the practice of borrowing money to buy further investments with the aim of increasing or ‘gearing up’ investors’ potential returns. To put very simply, if an investment company has assets of £100 million then borrows a further £10 million to invest, it could potentially boost returns for investors by a further 10% (minus the cost of borrowing the extra money). This investment company would be said to have gearing of 110. If it borrowed £50 million, its gearing would be 150.
Gearing can potentially increase returns when an investment company’s investments are rising in value. But it can also increase losses if a company’s investments drop in value or the cost of borrowing rises sharply, so gearing needs to be managed carefully. As an investor it is important to check how much gearing an investment company has – the higher the gearing, the higher the company’s risk profile.
Because their share price can move up and down, all investment companies carry a certain level of risk. As an investor, you must be prepared to accept that you could receive back less than you originally invested if an investment company’s shares fall in value. Broadly speaking, some investment companies are likely to see greater fluctuations in value than others: an investment company that invests in young, volatile emerging markets may see greater fluctuation in its share price than one investing in big companies listed in Europe and the US, for example. But there are no guarantees – and experience has shown that even highly developed and regulated stock markets can see big swings in value.
The summary risk indicator provided in an investment company’s ‘Key Information Document’ gives you a guide to the company’s level of risk compared to other products. To help ensure that an investment matches your own risk tolerance, you may wish to speak to a financial adviser who can conduct a full risk profile for you.
Technically, yes if you are the registered holder of the shares. If you invest through an online investment service, check if your shareholder rights will be passed onto you as your shares may be held through a nominee account to improve efficiency.
Yes – like all company shares, they can be passed onto chosen beneficiaries when you die. You need to specify in your Will who is to receive the investment. On death, the people you have chosen to act as executors of your estate will need to complete and sign a stock transfer form, available from the company’s registrars. The details of the company registrar can be found on documentation such as an investment company’s annual report and on its website. Inheritance tax may be payable on shares if they are gifted within seven years of tax and the total value of your estate exceeds the current inheritance tax threshold.
What the words mean
Get to know words and terms relating to investment trusts and investing.
Visit the Association of Investment Companies to find definitions of terms used. You can enter the term you want to search for, or click on the letter it begins with or see the most frequently search terms at a glance.