Introduction to Investment Trusts
An investment trust (also known as an investment company) is structured as a company and listed on a stock exchange. It is a type of collective investment, investing in stocks, bonds, property and other assets. An investment trust sells a fixed number of shares at launch and so has a fixed pool of assets to invest. The fixed asset structure means that a trust's share price may be at a discount or premium to the actual value of the underlying assets.
The board of directors will usually delegate the responsibility for investing the assets to a dedicated investment manager. The board will then monitor whether that manager is doing a good job, and replace them if necessary. Investment trusts can also employ gearing – take on debt – to boost investment performance. Of course, this can also work against the trust's performance in a falling market.
Investment trusts are usually bought and sold in the same way as normal shares, though some will be bought through dedicated share schemes run by the companies themselves. Investors who buy through a broker will usually pay a flat dealing fee to move in and out. The annual management charge levied by the investment manager will be reflected in the performance of the trust. Investment trusts are also subject to stamp duty in the same way as normal shares.