Investments  

Attracting younger clients to VCTs

This article is part of
Guide to VCT investing

For example, earlier this year FTAdviser reported on the case of the incoming Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chairman, Charles Randall, who admitted his error of judgement in investing in the Ingenious Film Partnership.

So when the government does get behind tax-efficient investments, such as VCTs and enterprise investment schemes (EIS), with the view to bolstering British business, this makes for a compelling reason for people to consider these as part of their overall tax planning.

Traditionally, tax planning has been the purview of the wealthiest in society, those who have maxed out their pension and Isa allowances (currently at £40,000 and £20,000 a year) and are now looking towards VCTs and EIS.

These have tended to be the older members of society. Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services, comments: "Young people do not tend to have big tax bills and are less willing to invest in higher-risk businesses when they have to tie their money in for five years to get the tax breaks.

"There seems to be a bit more interest [in VCTs] from younger investors, as having the data more widely available on the internet has helped, but we find it is still mainly older investors."

Risk

Mr McDermott's point about tying money up in a VCT for five years - when younger people are more likely to need ready access for house deposits or when they start a family - is a key one, especially given the risk.

The AIC's communications director Annabel Brodie-Smith reiterates this point: "VCTs are more suitable for investors who are prepared to accept a high level of risk.

"VCTs invest in small, high-risk companies which could become household names in the future. The government offers generous tax relief if you subscribe to new VCT shares, but to qualify for this income tax relief, the investor must hold the VCT for a minimum of five years."

So while a younger investor is by no means not eligible to invest in VCTs, there may be lifestyle or other financial factors an adviser should discuss with younger clients considering making such investments, as they may not be aware of the tie-in for tax purposes or the more risky nature of the investment.

Jason Hollands, managing director of communications and business development for Tilney, also expresses caution over young people prioritising VCTs.

He says: "With the exception of City professionals, such as traders and hedge fund managers who earn significant bonuses and want to reduce their tax liabilities, we haven't seen a trend [in young people] seeking VCTs.