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Share buying made easy

Buying shares in investment trusts could not be easier. Most banks and building societies now deal in shares on the spot or over the phone, and bigger high streets will even have stockbrokers' offices for more traditional share-buying. The Yellow Pages should yield a crop of outfits that will do share- buying over the telephone.

But buying shares in investment trusts involves complex decisions. For starters, there is a wide variety of funds: some offer a high income, others look for a balance of income and growth. If you're looking to the long term, you will probably want to concentrate on those offering capital growth. There are trusts for different overseas markets and ones which concentrate on specific sectors such as technology or metals.

You also have to consider the level of risk you are comfortable with. A trust that invests in a single country presents a greater risk than a general, broad-based international fund.

It makes sense to get expert advice from a stockbroker or financial adviser, which you will have to pay for in commission or fees. Commission is usually 1 per cent or more of the value of an investment while a fee- based adviser may charge hundreds of pounds to select suitable trusts.

It is possible to buy investment trusts through regular savings schemes. For as little as pounds 20 a month you can get into a good investment trust - which can be more sensible than simply handing over a lump sum because you will reduce the risk of buying shares at the top or when they are at premium to net asset value.

Investment trusts rarely trade exactly at net asset value. It is only when there is heavy demand that a fund trades at a premium. Most trade at a discount, allowing investors to buy in at less than the real worth of the shares.

Most investment trusts offer monthly savings schemes and many allow the amount to be varied, subject to a minimum level. Payments can even be delayed at expensive times such as Christmas or when paying for a holiday.