Investment funds for your kids' financial future

Girl saving for her future

This summer, parents will have been starkly reminded just how expensive young children can be. But the price tag that comes with raising a child goes far beyond holidays, days away and
play dates.

Research from insurer LV= shows that the average cost of raising a child in the UK, from birth to the age of 21, is now a staggering £231,843 (this doesn’t include private school fees, although it does take into account associated school costs as well as university fees).

It also points out that the cost between the ages of 18 and 21, the university years, comes in at £53,445. As such, coming up with a savings plan for your child’s future, sooner rather than later, comes highly recommended.


Luckily, there is no shortage of options. One of the most popular is the Junior Isa (Jisa), where you can have a plan that is either in cash or stocks and shares, or even a combination of the two, and no tax is payable on any gains. The downside is that you are limited to saving £4,080 for the 2016/17 tax year. In addition, when your child turns 18, the cash is theirs and there is no guarantee they will spend their savings as you would like them to.

However, you do not have to take out a plan that is specially designed for children. These schemes come with their own set of attractions and caveats. If you want more control, you could start up a bare trust or open a designated account as an alternative, or to complement, any savings plans you already have in place. You can also put away as much as you want.

If you want to give your savings plan the best chance to grow, investments – as opposed to cash savings – are likely to be your best bet. We look at a variety of funds to suit all investment tastes, which could help give your children or grandchildren get a serious financial head start in life – and one way to perhaps leave them the ultimate financial legacy.


Low risk

Schroders QEP Global Core (five-year total return: 76%)

Recommended by Chase de Vere certified financial planner Patrick Connolly, this is what Schroders describes as an ‘all weather’ fund, which aims to offer investors the potential for outperformance across a broad range of market environments.

Mr Connolly says: “The team takes a very disciplined approach to managing risk and sticks closely to a very structured process. It also has a low charge of just 0.4% per annum.”

Troy Trojan (five-year total return: 28%)

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at fund broker Hargreaves Lansdown, tips Troy Trojan as another good pick for the risk-averse. This is a multi-asset fund, which means investors get exposure to shares, as well as other asset classes, such as bonds and even gold. Given the wide mix of assets it invests in, the fund comes with a higher annual fee, or ongoing charges figure (OCF) of 1.05%.

Mr Khalaf says: “The manager takes a highly flexible approach and while he looks to deliver strong returns, he also aims to protect investor’s cash during tougher periods.”

Vanguard Lifestrategy 40% equity (five-year total return: 47%)

Candid Financial Advice founder Justin Modray cites Vanguard LifeStrategy 40% Equity portfolio, which, as its name suggests, has 40% of its assets invested in shares from around the globe and 60% in less volatile bonds. It also comes with a very low OCF of just 0.24%.

Mr Modray describes it as “a straightforward and low-cost way to invest in a range of global shares and corporate bonds”.

Medium risk

CF Woodford equity income (up 26% since June 2014 launch)

For someone willing to take on a more ‘medium’ level of risk, Mr Khalaf suggests the CF Woodford Equity Income fund, which carries a 0.75% OCF.

He says: “Its manager, Neil Woodford, has an exceptional track record in managing peoples’ money and the fund provides a good core holding to UK blue-chip companies.” Mr Woodford invests in dividend paying firms – that is companies that share profits with investors – and these payouts can be reinvested to help boost growth, which can prove a major boon to performance over the long term.

HSBC FTSE All Share Index (five-year total return: 40%)

Passive funds, which simply echo the performance of a particular market, are typically the most cost-effective way of investing, and for those looking to take such a route, Mr Connolly highlights this HSBC vehicle.

He says: “It aims to track the performance of the FTSE All Share Index, so the largest holdings will always be in the biggest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange and include the likes of Royal Dutch Shell and BP. It has an annual charge of only 0.07%.”

Rathbone Global Opportunities (five-year total return: 82%)

Chelsea Financial Services managing director Darius McDermott backs Rathbone Global Opportunities, which carries a 0.79% OCF. He says: “Its manager has a bias towards smaller companies, but he sticks to developed world stocks and avoids riskier emerging markets. This fund ticks over really nicely and has a very strong track record.”

High risk

JPMorgan Emergying Markets (five-year total return: 13%)

For those happy to shoulder a greater amount of risk in a bid to reap higher rewards, Mr Connolly tips JPMorgan Emerging Markets, which invests in companies, based in the developing economies of India, Brazil and Indonesia, among others.

He says: “This is perhaps as close as you can get to a pair of safe hands in what is a very volatile investment sector. The team seeks high-quality companies which have good growth prospects.” The portfolio comes with an OCF of 1.18%.

Marlborough UK Micro Gap Growth (five-year total return: 89%)

Marlborough UK Micro Cap Growth, which has a 0.8% OCF, is another of Mr McDermott’s key picks. He says: “While investing in smaller companies is more risky, the portfolio is heavily diversified with more than 200 holdings and it has been one of the top performers among its peer group since it launched in 2004.”

Steward Investors Asia Pacific Leaders (five-year total return: 61%)

Mr Khalaf also highlights the Stewart Asia Pacific Leaders as a portfolio suited to the more intrepid. He says: “The vehicle invests in a higher-risk area of the world, but it also has the potential to deliver higher rewards.”

Currently, the fund, which comes with an OCF of 0.9%, has investments in the likes of Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and South Korea.

Open a pension

Starting a retirement plan for your newborn may seem a bit left field but, given the associated benefits and the time it has to grow, it could be a very sound investment. This is largely because your child will not be paying tax on it. Plus when you add money, the taxman will top it up by 20%. In other words, to save £100, you only need to put away £80, and you can save a maximum of £3,600 a year, so to hit that limit you only need to put in £2,880.

As the rules currently stand, pension savers cannot access their pot until they reach 55, so it is very unlikely to help them buy their first house, but that is where a Jisa could help.

In terms of what pension to choose, Mr Modray recommends a stakeholder plan or a self-invested personal pension (Sipp).

He says: “A stakeholder offers a limited selection of funds in which you can invest, but they are very cost effective and straightforward.” He notes Aviva’s stakeholder scheme, which charges a maximum of 0.55% a year. But if more flexibility is what you are after, he suggests Fidelity’s Junior Sipp. “It offers a much wider range of funds to choose from and charges just 0.35% a year for the account, but you will need to factor in the underlying costs of the portfolios you invest in too.”

What are bare trusts and designated accounts?

Trusts – and the rules that surround them – can be complex, but bare trusts are quite straightforward. When you put something into a bare trust, while the assets are held in your name, assuming you are the trustee, you no longer own them; they are instead held for the benefit of the specified beneficiary – for example, your child or grandchild. However, they cannot take legal ownership of the assets held in the trust until they reach age 18, or age 16 in Scotland.

A bare trust can a hold wide range of assets and you can add to it as you see fit. Setting up a bare trust can be tax efficient too. The tax from income or gains on assets held in a bare trust will usually fall on the beneficiary, the exception is where a parent makes a gift for their child and the income/gains exceeds £100 a year when the parent will pay the taxman.


Also, anything you put into a trust will be considered a ‘potentially exempt transfer’ for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes and therefore will not be included in your overall estate, provided you live for at least another seven years after you make the contribution. To set one up, you typically have to fill out a form, which should be provided by the investment firm you are dealing with.

With designated accounts, there are important differences to be aware of. When you open a designated account, the investments are held in your name but you indicate that they will be passed to the child when they reach age 18. But while you may intend to hand over the money, you are not obliged to and can hold on to it for as long as you want.

Given that the account remains under your control, you are also responsible for any income and capital gains tax liabilities and the money does not fall outside your estate for IHT purposes.

Figures correct as at 25 July 2016.

Published: 15 August 2016
Last updated: 15 August 2016