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ERCA BARTER'S INVESTMENTS SPECIALISTS

We are investment experts with an explicit focus on protection and security. We understand that every customer has different circumstances and objectives, and it’s these differences that influence our diverse range of products. Our asset-backed investments are tailored to the investor and designed to minimize tax exposure.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF ASSET-BACKED INVESTMENTS INCLUDE:

  • Shares
  • Friendly Societies
  • Unit Trusts (Carbon Bullion)
  • Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
  • Investment Trusts
  • Open-Ended Investment Companies (OEICs)
  • Investment Bonds

Understanding our Investments


Shares

Shares are issued by companies that wish to raise money. The best-known shares are bought and sold daily on international stock markets. There are several different types of shares, but the most common ones are simply called ‘ordinary shares’.

A shareholder will normally receive a dividend twice a year, which is related to the profitability of the company. The board of directors decides how much the dividend will be in any given year. Dividends can be raised, lowered, or stopped altogether, but past experience has shown that over the medium to long term, they tend to rise, thereby giving investors some protection against inflation; however, this is not guaranteed.

In the short term, share prices may fluctuate in response to changes in opinion about the company itself or the general outlook for business and the economy. However, in the medium to long term, experience has shown the tendency for share values to rise (ie. capital growth). This helps protect the real value of the investor’s capital against inflation.

Selling shares may produce a capital gain for investors (ie. the value realised at the sale may be greater than the value at the time of purchase). A capital gain realised on the sale of shares is potentially liable to Capital Gains Tax.

Capital losses may be set against gains for tax purposes. Investing in individual shares can be risky, and picking the wrong company could mean losing some or all of the original investment.

Investors may pay personal tax on income or gains unless the shares are held within an ISA or income is covered by allowances such as the dividend allowance or personal savings allowance.

FRIENDLY SOCIETIES

Friendly societies offer 10-year qualifying savings plans, which invest in cash deposits, managed funds, or profits funds. They are free of Capital Gains Tax and income tax. The monthly limit for tax-free status is €25, making a total contribution of €300pa. The maximum if paid by lump sum is €270.


UNIT TRUSTS

Unit Trusts are pooled investment vehicles. This means relatively small sums from clients are pooled to form a large fund, which is able to invest in a broad spread of stocks, shares, and other assets.  Investors’ interests are protected by the terms of a trust deed which must be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority before a unit trust is authorised to accept clients’ money.

Because they invest in stocks and shares, unit trusts must be viewed as a medium to long-term investments. This means that they should be held for at least five years, preferably longer, in order that the investor can potentially benefit from capital growth and a rising income.

Unit trusts offer investors significant advantages. The fund can invest in a broad spread of stocks and shares which brings greater security than investments into an individual company’s shares.

Each fund will benefit from the expertise of a professional fund manager who takes on the responsibility of the day-to-day investment decisions. Unit trusts offer a simple way of benefiting from an investment in the stock market. They avoid the complications and many of the risks associated with a person buying and selling individual stocks and shares.

Units can be easily bought and sold, and the prices are published in the press. The price at which units can be purchased by individuals is called the offer price, which is higher than the selling or bid price. The difference between the two is known as the bid-offer spread. The prices of units are determined by the value of the assets in the fund. As the asset value rises or falls, so do the offer and bid prices of units.

Income from assets owned by a unit trust is accumulated and regularly distributed to unit holders (normally twice a year) either as dividends or interest, depending on the assets of the fund. Alternatively, income may be reinvested by purchasing more units. Income, whether distributed or reinvested, is liable to income tax. If, when units are sold, their value is greater than when they were purchased, the investor will have made a capital gain. This is potentially liable to Capital Gains Tax if it exceeds the investor’s exemptions and reliefs.

OUR INDIVIDUAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT (ISA) & INDIVIDUAL SAVING RETIREMENT ACCOUNT (ISRA)

ISA

An ISA is a tax-free account that lets you hold cash and/or investments without having to pay tax on any interest, investment income, or gains you make on your money.

How much can I save tax-free?

The ISA allowance is £20,000 for the 2022/23 tax year.

How does it work?

You can set up as many separate ISA ‘pots’ as you like within your single Cushion ISA. This means you can create individual pots for different savings goals, invest and save your money across a range of different funds, and do so at different levels of risk. Access your money whenever you like without any charges. For certain types of cash deposits, a notice period applies. If this is the case, you’ll be made aware upfront.


What are the benefits of a Cushion ISA?

Behind the scenes, we’ll set up your account as a Stocks and Shares ISA, even if you choose to only hold cash within it. You can choose to invest some or all of your money, rather than having to switch accounts to invest or set up a separate Cash ISA, making it easier for you to control your savings.

To open a Cushion ISA, you must be aged 18 or over, be a UK resident, and have a National Insurance Number. This is a flexible ISA, which means you can take money out of your account and put it back in the same tax year without it affecting your tax-free allowance.

ISRA™ 

As an initiative to encourage the buying and selling of green technologies, the Government provides an Investment Tax Allowance (ITA) for purchasing green technology equipment / assets and an Income Tax Exemption (ITE) for providing green technology services. Westernclear has therefore created a new opportunity for consumer retirement called ISRA™

Under the green investments, investors are entitled to tax credit. When you invest in green investments, the money is invested in a so-called Green Fund. This money is used to finance green projects. Green projects are committed to protecting the environment. Therefore, you get tax benefits while investing in such green investment. We call this a win-win situation!

There is now a variety of carbon offset programs primarily (or exclusively) serving the voluntary market, comprised predominantly of corporations wishing to make GHG emission reduction claims. In some cases, voluntary carbon offset programs have influenced and interacted with compliance markets.

In some countries, there are rebates for reducing the income tax and national social insurance contributions you have to pay. When you invest your money in green investments, you are entitled to this tax credit. When the value of your green investments is higher than the tax exemption, you must declare the difference in the annual income tax return. If you want to know more, contact us directly to find out if your country is included within this program.

Investors do not pay any personal tax on income or gains.

INVESTMENT TRUSTS

Although branded ‘trusts’, investment trusts are not subject to a trust deed like unit trusts are. However, they are a pooled investment.

Investment trusts are limited companies, and their company directors are usually fund managers or investment experts. Their profit is made for their shareholders by buying and selling financial instruments, such as stocks and shares.

It is possible for shares in investment trusts to be ‘trading at a premium’ or ‘trading at a discount’, for example:

Shares in issue = 1 million

Underlying asset values = €1 million

Therefore, each share is worth €1.

This €1 is open to fluctuation due to influences and market sentiment, just like stocks and shares. Therefore, if the shares are trading at €0.95, they would be trading at a discount. If they were trading at £1.05p, they would be trading at a premium.

Investment trusts are closed-ended investments (unlike unit trusts, which are open-ended). Should they wish to acquire more investments than their share capital allows, they can benefit by ‘gearing’.

This simply means that they can borrow money to invest. Therefore, a ‘highly geared’ investment trust would have large borrowings and could be considered high risk, especially in a falling (bear) marketplace. All the tax implications for investment trusts are the same as shares, as this is what the investor buys.

OPEN-ENDED INVESTMENT COMPANIES (OEICS)

An OEIC could be considered a hybrid between a unit trust and an investment trust company.

They were introduced in the UK in 1997 because they fall in line with their European counterparts, making the marketing of UK collective investments much easier and more understandable, both here and in Europe. OEICs benefit from single pricing, rather than the UK’s traditional dual pricing (the bid-offer spread). They have the same buying and selling price, with initial, exit, and annual management charges expressed separately.

OEICs’ basic structure:

They are investment companies.

Like in investment trusts, investors buy the company’s shares and benefit from the income and growth, or both, of the underlying shares they are trading in.

The trading price of OEIC shares is based on the underlying asset value, like unit trusts.

Like unit trusts, they are open-ended investments that can expand and contract to meet consumer demand.

OEICs can make distributions either by way of dividends or interest, depending on the make-up of the fund.

 *Tax Treatment of Dividends on Shares, OEICs, and Unit Trusts

INVESTMENT BONDS

Investment bonds are single premium life assurance policies. There is a high allocation to investment and relatively low life cover. They are pooled investments whereby relatively small amounts of individual investors’ money will be invested to create large pooled funds, maintained by a life assurance company.

Investments can be spread across a broad range of assets including property, shares, government stocks, and companies’ loan stocks, thereby reducing the risk for investors. It is, however, very important to realise that investment bonds are medium to long-term investments. As such, they should not be considered for periods of less than five years.

There are two basic types of contracts for investment bonds. For the first of these (with-profits), the sum assured will be increased by bonuses related to the company’s profits. For the second type of contract (unit-linked), the life assurance company maintains several underlying funds which are divided into units, the value of which is determined by the value of the assets in the fund.

It is normally possible for investors to withdraw money from an investment bond, either on a regular or irregular basis, without bringing the bond to an end. This is important when income is a priority.

Up to 5% pa of the original investment can be withdrawn as a partial withdrawal (until such time as all of the original investment has been withdrawn in this way), without triggering an immediate tax charge, as the tax assessment is deferred until the bond or segment is fully encashed.

Withdrawals can be made by surrendering part of a bond, but there can be adverse tax consequences for large withdrawals, and you should seek advice before making a partial surrender. However, some bonds divide the original investment into a number of small policies. In this case, withdrawals can be made by totally surrendering some of these small policies. This may have certain tax advantages for the investor.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invested. Tax concessions are not guaranteed and may change.