Fears for corporate bond investors
Sunday 19 August 2012
Corporate bond funds are on most investors shopping list. They are meant to be safer than shares, investing in some of the world's biggest companies and achieving a regular income stream. No wonder that in June more than £200m were ploughed into this type of fund.
But there are growing concerns that investors' faith in these funds as an uber-safe haven could be misplaced.
The problem seems to be, according to the Financial Services Authority, one of liquidity. Instead of investors being able to withdraw their cash, there are concerns that in the future, they might not be able to access it or find that, if they can, a significant value has been lost.
So concerned is the FSA with these risks it has written to corporate bond fund managers, to see if they can meet investors' requests to withdraw money. The question, then, is should you be thinking of other ways to get an income, rather than relying on funds where you could be trapped?
"The FSA is absolutely correct to be concerned," says Peter Sleep at Seven Investment Management. He warns that if the market began to fall, investors may rush for the exit and corporate bond funds may not be able to raise enough cash to pay them back. "This has happened in the recent past with property funds, many of which closed or imposed penalties on investors wishing to sell," Mr Sleep says.
Some of these funds are very large, running into many billions of pounds. "Fund size is a crucial factor," says Rob Morgan at Hargreaves Lansdown. "A small fund should be able to buy and sell fairly easily whereas it's more challenging for a larger fund."
He adds that we may not be far away from seeing a number of funds trying to reduce incoming money. But even bond fund managers admit the ability to buy and sell corporate bonds without affecting prices – the level of "liquidity" – is bad. "Anyone who says liquidity is not a problem is lying," said Richard Hodges, the bond fund manager at L&G Investment Management.
James Foster, a bond fund manager at Artemis, also believes the FSA is right to be concerned. He says five years ago, investment banks would have happily bought the bonds, but now they are circumspect about taking this kind of risk on.
"Should investors look to sell, then the investment banks won't be there to absorb the selling," says Mr Foster. "Prices could then move with much greater volatility, falling sharply to reflect the selling pressure."
Mr Foster adds these issues could push investors to look more to equity funds in order to generate an income, although these are not without risks. "The yields on many equity income funds are not far off corporate e bonds and in many situations higher," says Mr Foster.
But equity income funds – which invest in firms which the manager reckons will pay a consistent dividend – is not without risk.
If the corporate bond market falls, it is highly likely the equity market will fall more, warns Mr Sleep. "Many of the companies in a corporate bond fund will also feature in an equity income fund," says Mr Sleep. "Whatever causes a sell-off in the corporate bond market, whether it is an economic, political or some other shock, will likely cause a sell-off in the equity market. Our advice, as always, is to remain diversified."
Emma Dunkley is a reporter for citywire.co.uk
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens