Newton distributes a choice of income: Vivien Goldsmith looks at a new unit trust eligible for a PEP

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A new unit trust is being launched to rival the high income bonds.

The Distributor Fund from Newton Investment Management allows investors to choose to take no income at all; or the natural income from dividends of about 3 per cent, or to boost this by taking 2 per cent, 4 per cent or 6 per cent of capital a year on top to make a maximum distribution of 9 per cent a year.

The literature tries to spell out clearly that taking more than the natural income will put the capital at risk. 'The more capital you withdraw each year, the less chance there is that it will be completely replenished by capital growth.'

But Newton's marketing director Jonathan Powell said the fund aimed to replace capital in real terms. 'But income is income and where that is combined with capital we call it 'distribution'.'

The payments are made quarterly and investors will get a detailed breakdown of the income and any units sold to boost the payment. This could pose complications for investors who pay capital gains tax.

The unit trust, eligible for inclusion in a PEP, has a low-risk profile with up to half the portfolio in bonds or European equities to balance the investment in the UK stock market. Newton is known as a specialist in income unit trusts. Its general unit trust is ranked eighth of all PEP unit trusts over three years with an average annual growth of more than 30 per cent.

The fund is being launched on 31 January. It has an initial charge of 6 per cent and an annual charge of 1.5 per cent.

Usually financial advisers are paid commission of 3 per cent for selling unit trusts. But Newton plans to hand over a full 5 per cent to advisers. It expects there to be competition between advisers on offering the largest discounts.

The discount brokers, which offer no advice, may pass on 4 per cent of the commission and charge just 1 per cent, while more traditional brokers keep a larger slice.

Newton is deliberately encouraging investors to go to an independent adviser if they are interested. If they go to Newton direct they will end up paying the full initial charge.

Fidelity's new unit trust dealing service, MarketPlace, which gives discounts of up to 3 per cent to investors who buy by phone without any advice, has angered financial advisers.

They feel their role is threatened even though the discounts only apply to those investing a minimum of pounds 5,000.

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