Investment trust savings plans chalk up record year: 240m pounds for 1993 more than doubles the previous total

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The Independent Online
INVESTMENT trust savings and investment schemes enjoyed a record year in 1993, taking more than double the money of the previous year.

A total of pounds 239.6m was invested, a 107 per cent increase on the pounds 115.5m in 1992, according to the Association of Investment Trust Companies.

The fourth quarter saw a record pounds 73.1m invested, up 13 per cent on the third-quarter total of pounds 64.5m.

Ernest Fenton, director-general at the AITC, said: '1993 has been an exceptional year for investment trust savings schemes. Investors are clearly looking for good value alternatives to increase returns over the long term, especially in the light of low interest rates.'

He added that the benefits of savings schemes, including their low cost and flexibility, were becoming well known. 'We believe these schemes will continue to provide an excellent route for investors in building up a well-balanced portfolio.'

A total of 155 investment trusts, or 61 per cent of the AITC membership, offer savings and investment schemes. Some set a minimum monthly payment as low as pounds 20.

The number of regular savers rose to 70,800 from 56,000 at the end of 1992 and the average monthly saving rose to pounds 80 from pounds 70 over the year.

Lump sum investments totalled pounds 55m in the fourth quarter, up from pounds 47.3m in the third quarter and pounds 21.7m a year earlier.

The AITC attributes part of the growth in regular saving to the prevalence of share exchange schemes. These allow investors with unbalanced portfolios, such as a few privatisation shares, to swap them for shares in a general trust.

As more investment trust management companies offer share exchange, investors become converted to the idea of buying investment trusts on a regular basis.

The association also believes that at least as much private investors' money goes into investment trust personal equity plans, making a total of pounds 500m last year.

New investment trust issues last year pulled in a record pounds 2.2bn, with Mercury World Mining Trust raising pounds 425m in December, the largest investment trust launch ever in the UK.