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Diving Deeper into Listed Investment Companies (LICs)

Photo by Pathum Danthanarayana on Unsplash

Continuing on from our first article on Listed Investment Companies (LICs), today we’re going to dive further into how LICs differ from unlisted managed funds, and some of the benefits and risks involved.

As a quick refresher, let’s revisit what a LIC actually is…

LICs are companies listed on the stock exchange that are essentially managed funds in a company structure. That means they can pay out franked dividends (if declared) and are closed ended funds (i.e. the managers can’t take on more funds unless they issue more shares). This allows the investment team running the fund to concentrate on the investments, rather than worrying about the cash and liquidity situation of the fund.

Why are some key differences between LICs and unlisted managed funds?

Listed funds (ie. LICs) on the ASX allow you to buy shares in the fund, which represent ownership of part of the pool of investments. If the pool of investments goes up in value, then so does the NAV (net asset value). However because the fund is listed on the ASX, the share price can run in front of the NAV or trade at a discount to the NAV for a wide range of reasons.

Before purchasing a LIC, make sure you have checked out what the NAV is, and decide if you are still happy to purchase at a premium or a discount to that.

Sometimes investors look for LICs trading at a discount to their NAV, and may see this as a good time to purchase the shares. The fund size for a LIC is limited to the size of the capital raised, when the fund listed on the market. For the fund to get bigger it will have to issue more shares.

An unlisted managed fund may own the same assets as a LIC, but the units will trade at their NAV. Unlisted funds issue further units when people wish to invest into the fund, and they redeem units when investors wish to sell their holding. This means the manager of an unlisted fund may be forced to sell investments at the bottom of the market, if too many investors redeem their holdings when the market has fallen.

Unlisted funds usually quote a unit price, in addition to a buy and sell price on their website. This price is calculated by the manger and will be quoted daily, weekly or maybe even monthly. Unlisted funds are the most common type of fund available to investors in Australia, with around 2000 funds available in a large range of specialty areas, and some that are just diversified funds with a cross section of everything. Always do your research before investing in unlisted managed funds. Details for an unlisted fund can be found on the fund manager’s website, and usually include the historical performance and their top holdings.

Key Benefits and Risks of LICs

One of the major benefits of a LIC is getting expertise to manage your money. The manager of the company chooses the investments for the LIC you invest in. Of course some LICs can make bad investment decisions and if the value of your investment has fallen or underperformed the benchmark, you may need to decide whether to redeem your investment or leave it with the manager with the idea that next year the investments may recover.

Investments in LICs are usually not short-term investments, as they can fall in value before the investment choices made by the company come to fruition. If you are an investor that gets nervous, you are likely to pull out money too soon and you may fall into the trap of buying at the top and selling at the bottom.

Read more about LICs on the ASIC MoneySmart website!

If you’re interested in learning more about money and personal finance, catch us on the How To Money podcast which you can find on iTunes, or via our online web-player. Follow us on Twitter @HowToMoneyAUS, and on Medium at How To Money Australia.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments below.

Susan — HTM Co-Host

Important Information

The information on this blog and website is of a general and educational nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision, as we are not an advisory service. We recommend you consult a licensed financial adviser in order to assist you. The information is based on assumptions or market conditions which can change without notice, and this will impact the accuracy of the information provided. This website and blog occasionally provides links to third party sites, aimed at helping you gather the information required to make an informed decision — we may receive payment for these referrals.

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Our mission is to get young Australians talking about personal finance, and give them the resources to guide them in their financial education journey.

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How To Money Australia

How To Money Australia

Our mission is to get young Australians talking about personal finance, and give them the resources to guide them in their financial education journey.

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