Philip Thitchener, marketing manager at Exeter Fund Managers, says: "Our fund managers look at the discount to net asset value, and the price of the capital shares, and will buy cheap. We can hold the shares long or short term - it's actively managed. The fund did very well in 1993 and 1997 but it was patchy in-between. But overall we have outperformed the capital shares index in the long run."
Another advantage of going in through a collective fund is that you can avoid a capital gains tax liability, which might be triggered if you make more than pounds 6,800 in one go when a single trust winds up. By going into a fund you can shelter your money and take it out when it is most tax- efficient. The Exeter fund is PEPable and you can pay in pounds 40 a month upwards or lump sums from pounds 1,000. The downside to this collective investment approach is that you won't get the full value of any price rises.
If you want to buy capital shares directly but do not have a lot to invest, Flemings offers a savings scheme investing in capital shares within its Income and Growth fund. You can invest from pounds 40 a month upwards, or pounds 100 a month in a PEP (0500 500161). "Capital shares appeal to adventurous people who are prepared to gamble," says Mr Cockerill. In other words, don't invest your life savings.
q Whitechurch securities has a booklet on capital shares: 0800 374413.