This page cannot disclose all the risks and other significant aspects of our investment products and services. You should satisfy yourself that you fully understand the conditions which apply to such investment products and services and the potential risk exposures. Please note that we will send you regular reports on the services we provide to you and will include in those reports the costs associated with the transactions and services we undertake for you.
This page is intended to give you information on, and a warning of, the key risks associated with our investment products and services so that you are able to understand the most significant risks associated with the investment products and services being offered and, consequently, to take investment decisions on a more informed basis. You should consider this page carefully before deciding whether or not to invest in any of our investment products.
You must not rely on the guidance contained in this page as investment advice based on your personal circumstances, nor as a recommendation to enter into any investment service or invest in any investment product. Where you are unclear as to the meaning of any of the disclosures or warnings described below, we would strongly recommend that you seek independent legal or financial advice.
You should not invest in any investment product or agree to receive any investment service unless you understand the nature of the contract you are entering into and the extent of your exposure to risk. You should also be satisfied that any product or service is suitable for you in light of your financial position and investment objectives and, where necessary, you should seek appropriate independent advice in advance of making any investment decisions.
All financial products carry a certain degree of risk. Even “low risk” investment strategies involve an element of uncertainty. The types of risk that might apply will depend on various matters, including how any relevant product instrument or service agreement is created or drafted. Different instruments involve different levels of exposure to risk.
Risk factors may occur simultaneously and may compound each other resulting in an unpredictable effect on the value of any investment. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and you might lose the original amount invested. Fluctuations in such value and income can result from factors such as market movements and variations in exchange rates. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
Set out below is an outline of the major risks that may be associated with an investment in certain types of financial instruments.
This Part II should be read in conjunction with Parts III and IV.
When you buy or subscribe for equities issued by a company, you are buying a part of that company and you become a shareholder in it.
The aim is for the value of your shares to grow over time as the value of the company increases in line with its profitability and growth. In addition, you may also receive a dividend, which is an income paid out of the company’s profits. A risk with an equity investment is that the company must both grow in value and, if it elects to pay dividends to its shareholders, make adequate dividend payments, or the share price may fall. If the share price falls, the company, if listed or traded on-exchange, may then find it difficult to raise further capital to finance the business. The company’s performance may deteriorate in relation to its competitors, leading to further reductions in the share price. Ultimately the company may become vulnerable to a takeover or may fail.
Shares are generally a fairly volatile asset class – their value can go up and down more than other classes. Shares and other types of equity instrument also have exposure to the ‘Generic Risk Types’ listed in Part III below, which include market risk (e.g. problems in the company’s industry sector), and liquidity risk (whereby shares could become very difficult to sell, particularly if the company is private (i.e. not listed or traded on an exchange), or is listed but only traded infrequently).
Note that if a company goes into liquidation, its shareholders rank behind the company’s creditors (including its subordinated creditors) in relation to the realisation and distribution of the company’s assets – with the result that a shareholder will normally only receive money from the liquidator once all of the creditors of the company have been paid in full, if any proceeds of the liquidation remain.
Ordinary shares are issued by limited liability companies as the primary means of raising risk capital. The issuer has no obligation to repay the original cost of the share, or the capital, to the shareholder until the issuer is wound up (in other words, the issuer company ceases to exist). In return for the capital investment in the share, the issuer may make discretionary dividend payments to shareholders that could take the form of cash or additional shares.
Ordinary shares usually carry a right to vote on certain issues at general meetings of the issuer. There is no guaranteed return on an investment in ordinary shares for the reasons set out in 1.1 above and in a liquidation of the issuer, ordinary shareholders are amongst the last who have a right to repayment of their capital and any surplus funds of the issuer, which could lead to a loss of a substantial proportion, or all, of the original investment.
Unlike ordinary shares, preference shares give shareholders the right to a fixed dividend, the calculation of which is not based on the success of the issuer company. They therefore tend to be a less risky form of investment than ordinary shares. Preference shares do not usually give shareholders the right to vote at general meetings of the issuer, but shareholders will have a greater preference to any surplus funds of the issuer than ordinary shareholders, should the issuer go into liquidation.
Depositary receipts include American or European Depositary Receipts (ADRs or EDRs), Global Depositary Receipts or Shares (GDRs or GDSs) or other similar global instruments that are receipts representing ownership of shares of a foreign based issuer. They are typically issued by a bank and will represent a specific number of shares in a company. Depositary receipts are designed for U.S. and European securities markets as alternatives to purchasing underlying securities in their corresponding national markets and currencies.
They are traded on a stock exchange which may be local or overseas to the issuer of the receipt. They may facilitate investment in the company due to the widespread availability of price information, lower transaction costs and timely dividend distributions. The risks involved relate both to the underlying share (see 1.1 – 1.3 above) and to the bank issuing the receipt.
A “penny share” is a term used to describe shares which have a speculative appeal because of their low value. It is likely that there will be a big difference between the buying price and the selling price of these shares. The price may change quickly and it may go down as well as up. If the equities in which you are invested include penny shares, you should be aware that there may be a significant difference between the purchase and sale price of such shares and, if you need to sell the shares, you may get back much less than you paid for them.
A warrant is a time-limited right to subscribe for shares, debentures, loan stock or government securities and is exercisable against the issuer of the warrant. The issuer of the warrant might be either the original issuer of the underlying securities or a third party issuer that has set aside a pool of the underlying securities to cover its obligations under the warrants (these are called covered warrants). A relatively small movement in the price of the underlying security could result in a disproportionately large movement, unfavourable or favourable, in the price of the warrant. The prices of warrants can therefore be volatile.
The right to subscribe for any of the investment products listed in above or below, which a warrant confers, is invariably limited in time with the consequence that if the investor fails to exercise this right within the pre- determined time-scale then the investment becomes worthless.
If subscription rights are exercised, the warrant holder may be required to pay to the issuer additional sums (which may be at or near the value of the underlying assets). Exercise of the warrant will give the warrant holder all the rights and risks of ownership of the underlying investment product.
Each warrant is a contract between the warrant issuer and the holder. You are therefore exposed to the risk that the issuer will not perform its obligations under the warrant.
A warrant is potentially subject to all of the ‘Generic Risk Types’ listed in Part III below.
You should not buy a warrant unless you are prepared to sustain a total loss of the money you have invested plus any commission or other transaction charges.
Some other instruments are also called warrants but are actually options (for example, a right to acquire securities which is exercisable against someone other than the original issuer of the securities, often called a covered warrant).
A money-market instrument is a borrowing of cash for a period, generally no longer than six months, but occasionally up to one year, in which the lender takes a deposit from the money markets in order to lend (or advance) it to the borrower. Unlike in an overdraft, the borrower must specify the exact amount and the period for which he wishes to borrow. Like other debt instruments, money market instruments may be exposed to all of the ‘Generic Risk Types’ listed in Part III below, in particular credit and interest rate risk.
All debt instruments are potentially exposed to all of the ‘Generic Risk Types’ listed in Part III below, in particular credit risk and interest rate risk. Debt securities may be subject to the risk of the issuer’s inability to meet principal and interest payments on the obligation and may also be subject to price volatility due to such factors as interest rate sensitivity, market perception of the creditworthiness of the issuer, general market liquidity, and other economic factors, amongst other issues. When interest rates rise, the value of corporate debt securities can be expected to decline. Fixed-rate transferable debt securities with longer maturities tend to be more sensitive to interest rate movements than those with shorter maturities.
Collective investment schemes and their underlying assets are potentially exposed to all of the ‘Generic Risk Types’ listed in Part III below.
There are many different types of collective investment schemes. Generally, a collective investment scheme will involve an arrangement that enables a number of investors to ‘pool’ their assets and have these professionally managed by an independent manager. Investments may typically include gilts, bonds and quoted equities, but depending on the type of scheme may go wider into derivatives, real estate or any other asset.
There may be risks on the underlying assets held by the scheme and investors are advised, therefore, to check whether the scheme holds a number of different assets, thus spreading its risk. Subject to this, investment in such schemes may reduce risk by spreading the investor’s investment more widely than may have been possible if he or she was to invest in the assets directly.
The reduction in risk may be achieved because the wide range of investments held in a collective investment scheme can reduce the effect that a change in the value of any one investment may have on the overall performance of the portfolio. Although, therefore, seen as a way to spread risks, the portfolio price can fall as well as rise and, depending on the investment decisions made, a collective investment scheme may be exposed to many different major risk types.
Regulated collective investment schemes
Some collective investment schemes are regulated, which means that there are rules about (and limits on) the types of underlying investments in which the collective investment scheme can invest and the frequency and price at which investments in the collective investment scheme can be redeemed. In particular, the rules applicable to regulated collective investment schemes limit the extent to which they can invest in derivatives or leverage their portfolios. Regulated collective investment schemes include authorised unit trusts, OEICs (open ended investment companies, which are the same as ICVCs – Investment Companies with Variable Capital); SICAV (Societe d’investissement a capital variable); and FCPs (Fonds communs de placement).
Unregulated collective investment schemes
Other collective investment schemes are unregulated, which means that there are very few rules (or no rules) about the types of investments in which they can invest or the frequency at which they can be redeemed. Four of the most common types of unregulated collective investment scheme are offshore funds, hedge funds and fund of funds, private equity funds and real estate funds.
A hedge fund is an unregulated collected investment scheme. It is an actively managed portfolio which aims to exploit market inefficiencies using a variety of sophisticated investment strategies in order to achieve a positive return in most market conditions.
The investment return may not closely mirror familiar market indices. The managers may buy and sell a wide variety of financial securities including bonds, equities, options and derivatives. The investment techniques employed may include selling securities not already owned with a view to buying them back at a lower price in the future (a technique referred to as short selling), insofar as this technique is permitted under the applicable regulatory regime. Managers may also borrow funds in order to facilitate transactions and to generate improved returns (known as gearing or leverage). These and other techniques introduce additional financial risks, which may not be present in other investments.
Sophisticated monitoring of the current investment positions by the hedge fund managers aims to limit the level of risk involved but unforeseen circumstances may result in part or total loss of your investment. A “fund of funds” may invest in a portfolio of hedge funds and accounts managed by third party managers, utilising a variety of strategies. Hedge funds are potentially subject to all of the ‘Generic Risk Types’ listed in Part III below. They may also be subject to the following additional risk factors.
Borrowing Effect. They use a variety of financial instruments, loans and short selling which can result in a substantial gearing effect. This gives rise to the possibility that small price movements can have a disproportionate affect on the fund value and sometimes a total loss of capital to the investor.
Dealing. Purchases and sales are usually made through the hedge fund manager. Dealing dates for these funds are typically monthly or quarterly and in extreme market conditions dealing frequency may be extended. You may not be able to realise your investment at short notice. Hedge funds are long-term investments but under certain circumstances may be closed to new investment or may be redeemed.
Pricing and Valuations. Hedge fund managers generally provide calculations of the net asset value on a monthly basis. Orders are placed in advance of the publication of the dealing price.
Regulatory framework. Hedge funds are usually domiciled in countries with minimal or no legal or regulatory framework (so-called “offshore funds”). The legal risks involved in enforcing possible claims may also need to be taken into account.
Potential conflicts of interest. A substantial proportion of the manager’s remuneration is based on a performance fee. Managers can hold a substantial stake in the funds they manage and may have a direct or indirect interest in the underlying investments.
Tax. The tax treatment of hedge funds may differ from your other investments and we recommend that investors get specialist tax advice where they have a concern.
The price or value of an investment will depend on fluctuations in the financial markets outside of anyone’s control. Past performance is no indicator of future performance.
The nature and extent of investment risks varies between countries and from investment to investment. These investment risks will vary with, amongst other things, the type of investment being made, including how the financial products have been created or their terms drafted, the needs and objectives of particular investors, the manner in which a particular investment is made or offered, sold or traded, the location or domicile of the Issuer, the diversification or concentration in a portfolio (e.g. the amount invested in any one currency, security, country or issuer), the complexity of the transaction and the use of leverage. The ‘Generic Risk Types’ set out below could have an impact on each type of investment product or service.
The liquidity of an instrument is directly affected by the supply and demand for that instrument and also indirectly by other factors, including market disruptions (for example a disruption on the relevant exchange) or infrastructure issues, such as a lack of sophistication or disruption in the securities settlement process. Under certain trading conditions it may be difficult or impossible to liquidate or acquire a position. This may occur, for example, at times of rapid price movement if the price rises or falls to such an extent that under the rules of the relevant exchange, trading is suspended or restricted. Placing a stop-loss order will not necessarily limit your losses to intended amounts, but market conditions may make it impossible to execute such an order at the stipulated price. In addition, unless the contract terms so provide, a party may not have to accept early termination of a contract or buy back the relevant product.
Credit risk is the risk of loss caused by borrowers, bond obligors, or counterparties failing to fulfil their obligations, or the risk of such parties’ credit quality deteriorating.
The price or value of an investment will depend on fluctuations in the financial markets outside our control such as market supply and demand, investor perception and the prices of any underlying or allied investments. Overseas markets – Any overseas investment or investment with an overseas element will be subject to the risks of overseas markets, which may involve different risks from your home market. In some cases the risks will be greater. The potential for profit or loss from transactions on overseas markets, or from contracts denominated in a currency that is different from your home currency, will be affected by fluctuations in exchange rates.
Emerging markets -Price volatility in emerging markets, in particular, can be extreme. Price discrepancies can be common and unpredictable movements in the market not uncommon. Additionally, as news about a country becomes available, the financial markets may react with dramatic upswings and downswings in prices during a very short period of time. Emerging markets generally lack the level of transparency, liquidity, efficiency, market infrastructure, and regulation found in more developed markets. For example, these markets might not have regulations governing manipulation and insider trading or other provisions designed to “level the playing field” with respect to the availability of information and the use or misuse thereof in such markets. They may also be affected by political risk. It may be difficult to employ certain risk and legal uncertainty management practices for emerging markets investments, such as forward currency exchange contracts or derivatives.
Clearing House Protections
On many exchanges, the performance of a transaction may be “guaranteed” by the exchange or clearing house. However, this guarantee is usually in favour of the exchange or clearing house member and cannot be enforced by the client who may, therefore, be subject to the credit and insolvency risks of the firm through whom the transaction was executed.
The insolvency or default of the firm with whom you are dealing, or of any brokers involved with your transaction, may lead to positions being liquidated or closed out without your consent or, indeed, investments not being returned to you. There is also insolvency risk in relation to the investment itself, for example of the company that issued the bond or of the counterparty to the off exchange derivatives (where the risk relates to the derivative itself and to any collateral or margin held by the counterparty).
In respect of any foreign exchange transactions and transactions in derivatives and securities that are denominated in a currency other than that in which your account is denominated, a movement in exchange rates may have a favourable or an unfavourable effect on the gain or loss achieved on such transactions. The weakening of a country’s currency relative to a benchmark currency or the currency of your portfolio will negatively affect the value of an investment denominated in that currency. Currency valuations are linked to a host of economic, social and political factors and can fluctuate greatly, even during intra-day trading. Some countries have foreign exchange controls which may include the suspension of the ability to exchange or transfer currency, or the devaluation of the currency. Hedging can increase or decrease the exposure to any one currency but may not eliminate completely exposure to changing currency values.
Interest Rate Risk
Interest rates can rise as well as fall. A risk exists with interest rates that the relative value of a security, especially a bond, will worsen due to an interest rate increase. This could impact negatively on other products.
Regulatory and Legal Risk
All investments could be exposed to regulatory or legal risk. Returns on all, and particularly new, investments are at risk from regulatory or legal actions and changes which can, amongst other issues, alter the profit potential of an investment. Legal changes could even have the effect that a previously acceptable investment becomes illegal. Changes to related issues such as tax may also occur and could have a large impact on profitability. Such risk is unpredictable and can depend on numerous political, economic and other factors. For this reason, this risk is greater in emerging markets but does apply everywhere. In emerging markets, there is generally less government supervision and regulation of business and industry practices, stock exchanges and over-the-counter markets.
The type of laws and regulations with which investors are familiar in the Isle of Man may not exist in some places, and where they do, may be subject to inconsistent or arbitrary application or interpretation and may be changed with retroactive effect. Both the independence of judicial systems and their immunity from economic, political or nationalistic influences remain largely untested in many countries. Judges and courts in many countries are generally inexperienced in the areas of business and corporate law. Companies are exposed to the risk that legislatures will revise established law solely in response to economic or political pressure or popular discontent. There is no guarantee that an overseas investor would obtain a satisfactory remedy in local courts in case of a breach of local laws or regulations or a dispute over ownership of assets. An investor may also encounter difficulties in pursuing legal remedies or in obtaining and enforcing judgments in overseas courts.
Operational risk, such as breakdowns or malfunctioning of essential systems and controls, including IT systems, can impact on all financial products. Business risk, especially the risk that the business is run incompetently or poorly, could also affect shareholders of, or investors in, such a business. Personnel and organisational changes can severely affect such risks and, in general, operational risk may not be apparent from outside the organisation.
Liquidity and Discretionary Accounts
Withdrawals that you make from Discretionary accounts of debt repaid from such accounts may adversely affect the overall performance of your portfolio. Furthermore, where you instruct us to purchase or liquidate sizeable assets in a given portfolio with concentrations in a particular market, then this may affect the price: e.g. a significant withdrawal from a portfolio may compel us to sell positions at a price that we normally would not have sold at.
If you deposit collateral as security with us, the way in which it will be treated will vary according to the type of transaction and where it is traded. There could be significant differences in the treatment of your collateral, depending on whether you are trading on a regulated market (see 4 below), with the rules of that exchange (and the associated clearing house) applying, or trading on another exchange or, indeed, off-exchange. Deposited collateral may lose its identity as your property once dealings on your behalf are undertaken. Even if your dealings should ultimately prove profitable, you may not get back the same assets which you deposited, and may have to accept payment in cash. We will notify you of how we will deal with any collateral that you deposit with us, including if your collateral is subject to total title transfer.
Certain financial services authorities have categorised certain exchanges as recognised or designated investment exchanges. A list of these exchanges can be found on the relevant regulators website. Transactions which are traded elsewhere (i.e. “off-exchange”) may be exposed to substantially greater risks. Unless you instruct us otherwise, we may deal for you in circumstances in which the relevant transaction is off-exchange. Such transactions may not be subject to the same investor protection standards as transactions executed on a recognised or designated investment exchange.
Before entering into a limited liability transaction, you should obtain from the firm a formal written statement confirming that the extent of your loss liability on each transaction will be limited to an amount agreed by you before you enter into the transaction.
The amount you can lose in limited liability transactions will be less than in other margined transactions, which have no predetermined loss limit. Nevertheless, even though the extent of loss will be subject to the agreed limit, you may sustain the loss in a relatively short time. Your loss may be limited, but the risk of sustaining a total loss to the amount agreed is substantial.
Before you begin to trade, you should obtain details of all commissions and other charges for which you will be liable. If any charges are not expressed in money terms (but, for example, as a percentage of contract value), you should obtain a clear and written explanation, including appropriate examples, to establish what such charges are likely to mean in specific money terms. In the case of futures, when commission is charged as a percentage, it will normally be as a percentage of the total contract value, and not simply as a percentage of your initial payment.
Under certain trading conditions it may be difficult r impossible to liquidate a position. This may occur, for example, at times of rapid price movement if the price rises or falls in one trading session to such an extent that under the rules of the relevant exchange trading is suspended or restricted. Placing a stoploss order will not necessarily limit your losses to the intended amounts, because market conditions may make it impossible to execute such an order at the stipulated price. Transactions may be entered into in:
a security whose listing on an exchange is suspended, or the listing of or dealings in which have been discontinued, or which is subject to an exchange announcement suspending or prohibiting dealings; or a grey market security, which is a security for which application has been made for listing or admission to dealings on an exchange where the security’s listing or admission has not yet taken place (otherwise than because the application has been rejected) and the security is not already listed or admitted to dealings on another exchange. There may be insufficient published information on which to base a decision to buy or sell such securities.
You should familiarise yourself with the protections accorded to you in respect of money or other property you deposit for domestic and foreign transactions, particularly in the event of a firm insolvency or bankruptcy. Certain property may be held by a third party outside the Isle of Man (which may also be outside the United Kingdom & the European Economic Area (“EEA”)), and as such, the legal and regulatory regime applying to (and therefore your rights relating to) any such property may be different from that of the Isle of Man (or elsewhere in the UK & EEA). It may not be possible for that property (other than cash) to be separately identifiable. For this reason, you may not get back the same assets which you deposited. The extent to which you may recover your cash or other property may also be governed by specific legislation or local rules. In some jurisdictions, property, which had been specifically identifiable as your own, will be pro-rated in the same manner as cash for purposes of distribution in the event of a shortfall.
Your cash or other property may be deposited with a third party who may have a security interest, lien or right of set-off in relation to that property.
Transactions may be carried out in securities where the price may have been influenced by measures taken to stabilise it.
Stabilisation enables the market price of a security to be maintained artificially during the period when a new issue of securities is sold to the public. Stabilisation may affect not only the price of the new issue but also the price of other securities relating to it. Regulations allow stabilisation in order to help counter the fact that, when a new issue comes on to the market for the first time, the price can sometimes drop for a time before buyers are found.
Stabilisation is carried out by a ‘stabilisation manager’ (normally the firm chiefly responsible for bringing a new issue to market). As long as the stabilising manager follows a strict set of rules, he is entitled to buy back securities that were previously sold to investors or allotted to institutions which have decided not to keep them.
The effect of this may be to keep the price at a higher level than it would otherwise be during the period of stabilisation.
The Stabilisation Rules:
The fact that a new issue or a related security is being stabilised should not be taken as any indication of the level of interest from investors, nor of the price at which they are prepared to buy the securities.