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This shows the number of portfolios you hold. Portfolios can be constructed from Unit Trusts & OEICs,IMA Unit Trusts & OEICs,Investment Trusts,Pension Funds,Life Funds,Offshore Funds,Exchange Traded Funds and cash. Holdings and acquisition costs can be recorded so that profits/losses can be calculated. These can be calculated in terms of a number of base currencies. Overall portfolio values, as well as portfolio constituents, can be made the subject of alerts.
You have one watchlist, and this shows you the number of items currently stored in the watchlist. Items stored here do not have holdings records, so this list simply monitors the price of items held, which can also be subject to alerts
This is designed to be a temporary collection of items selected by you for further analysis in the tools section. Items can be subsequently transferred from the Basket to the Watchlist or Portfolio.
Why invest in Offshore funds?
'Qualifying', or 'Distributing' Funds.
The first category is a 'Qualifying', or 'Distributing' fund, which must distribute at least 85% of its income to investors. Distributions are paid gross of tax, and UK investors are left to declare the income in their annual tax returns. The benefit here is one of cashflow: until the tax is paid, and depending on the timing and frequency of distributions, the money is better off in the investor's account than being deducted at source.
Upon disposal, whether through sale or by switching to another investment, a capital gain or loss will be crystallised. Losses are allowable against the investor's overall Capital Gains Tax (CGT) computation, and gains may be mitigated by both Taper Relief and the investor's annual CGT allowance.
'Non-Qualifying', or Accumulation Funds.
The second category is perhaps better known as a 'roll-up' fund. No income is distributed, the fund's gains being re-invested to augment the value of the investors' holdings. Unlike the accumulation units of UK funds, no attribution of a share in these gains is made to the individual investor, and so no liability to tax is incurred for the duration of the holding.
No doubt because the investor has enjoyed something of a tax-paying holiday, on disposal of this kind of investment the Inland Revenue debars access to the relief normally available on capital gains, and classifies the return as an 'Offshore Income Gain'. Effectively, it will be subjected to income tax at the investor's highest marginal rate, but at worst the exercise has enabled the investor to defer crystallisation of the tax liability until a point chosen by him or her.
In both these instances holdings in the name of a non-earning spouse will lessen the liability. Further, the investor can plan disposals to coincide with an anticipated move into a lower tax bracket - upon retirement, say. And if the proceeds are not repatriated at all - witness the increasing number of people retiring abroad - the UK tax regime can be sidestepped completely.
While conceding the need for greater degrees of co-operation with onshore authorities, the offshore centres' tradition of protecting investors' privacy still persists. If they are implementing measures necessary to maintain a reputation for probity, on money-laundering for example, and if they are co-operative when there is evidence of criminal activity, they will nevertheless actively resist any attempts at 'fishing expeditions' on the part of onshore tax authorities.
It is this confidentiality, and an asset repository one step removed from mainstream life, that can protect those who are subject to a risk of litigation: business proprietors, doctors, lawyers and people perceived to have substantial net worth. In our increasingly litigious society, it is not always the person directly causing an actionable event that gets sued. Litigants, maybe even frivolously, are likely to pursue those with loose connections to the chain of events, because they are seen as having deep pockets. And with increasing compensation levels, liability insurance may be insufficient to cover an award. If assets are less clearly identifiable or easy to recover, this can deter such actions, or at least circumscribe losses.
In addition to operating in a benign tax environment, offshore funds have the opportunity to further increase their returns through exposure to a wider range of asset classes.
In the UK, regulations are tightly drawn so as to meet a government-perceived need to protect the vulnerable, the unwary, or the plain feckless consumer - a prescriptive 'widows and orphans' approach. As a result, Fund Managers are restricted as to the type of asset in which they can invest their clients' money, and are constrained to forego potentially rewarding opportunities. Without the more extreme restrictions, offshore funds are free to access asset classes such as commodities, derivatives and hedge funds. And in this last case, many investors will have been daunted by the barriers to entry posed by high minimum investment levels, while eyeing enviously the 20-30% annual returns hedge funds have been able to pull in the past. It is this access to a wider range of instruments or currencies that a domestic-only investor misses.
It is an accepted principle that diversity can better balance an investor's portfolio and reduce its volatility. By spreading investment around different financial centres, not only is diversity is increased, but exposure to different market conditions and investment styles are brought into the mix as well.
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