Investment involves risk. As a general rule, you should only trade in financial products that you are familiar with and understand the risk associated with them. The risk warning described below is not exhaustive, you should carefully consider your investment experience, financial situation, investment objective, risk tolerance level and consult your independent financial adviser as to the suitability of your situation prior making any investment.
There are global risks to which your investments may, at some point, be exposed, and it is important for you as an investor to understand what these are, and how they might affect your investment.
Political and national economic unrest can affect the value of securities of companies carrying on business in that country. Governments can also exert their own influence on financial regulation and capital markets which can affect the attractiveness of that market and therefore any investments exposed to it.
Investments denominated in a currency other than Euro or ones that undertake transactions on foreign markets, which include the financial markets of developing countries (Emerging Markets), may expose you to greater risks caused by fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. This can adversely affect the value of your return and the value of your investment. Investments in emerging markets are exposed to additional risks, including accelerated inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, adverse repatriation laws and fiscal measures, and macroeconomic and political factors.
Cash from an investment might not be worth as much in the future because of changes in purchasing power due to inflation.
Interest Rate Risk
The value of your investment may decline due to a change in the prevailing interest rates. This has a more prominent affect where the underlying asset is a bond, as interest rates and bond prices generally move in opposite directions.
This occurs when you are unable to convert an investment into cash whenever you want, or unable to find a suitable market or a willing buyer. You may wish to sell your investment immediately, and this could lead to a decrease in the value of your investment.
Changes in the tax status of your investments could affect the returns you receive, or make the investment strategy less attractive generally. If you are unsure of your tax liabilities, you should consult a qualified tax adviser.
Suspensions of trading
Under certain trading conditions it may be difficult or 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.
Your investment manager's insolvency or default, or that of any other brokers involved with your transaction, may lead to positions being liquidated or closed out without your consent. In certain circumstances, you may not get back the actual assets which you lodged as collateral and you may have to accept any available payments in cash. On request, your investment manager must provide an explanation of the extent to which it will accept liability for any insolvency of, or default by, other firms involved with your transactions.
This section lists some common risk factors relating to the geographical area, industry and/or asset type applicable to particular investment products.
Shares carry varying risks brought about by the performance of world markets, interest rates, taxes on income and capital, foreign exchange rates, liquidity (the ease with which a security can be traded on the market) and the financial performance of the issuing companies. The value of, or income from shares can go down as well as up and you may not get back the original amount you invested. Shares purchased on the Alternative Investment (AIM) markets (especially those known as ‘penny shares’) carry a higher degree of risk of losing money. This is because the requirements on companies that are listed on AIM markets are less stringent than those for companies with a full market listing. There is also usually a wider spread between the buying price and the selling price of these shares and if they have to be sold immediately, you may get back less than you paid for them due to a lack of liquidity. The price of these shares may change quickly and they may go down as well as up. It may also be difficult to obtain reliable information about their value or the extent of the risks to which they are exposed.
Collective Investment Schemes (commonly known as "funds")
A fund is a term that covers different types of structure, normally Open Ended Investment Companies or Unit Trusts. Most funds can be held in tax-efficient wrappers. Funds are arrangements that enable a number of investors to 'pool' their money, in order to gain access to professional fund managers. Investments held by these funds may typically include gilts, bonds and quoted equities, but depending on the type of scheme, may hold higher risk instruments such as property, derivatives, unquoted securities and other complex products. The value of a fund, and the income derived from it, can decrease as well as increase and you may not necessarily get back the amount you originally invested. In addition, funds bear investment management risks, insolvency risks and possibly liquidity risks. You should ensure that you understand the nature of any fund before you invest in it. You can do this by making sure you read the Key Investor Information Document (which is made available to you for each fund) for a summary of the main risks.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)
ETFs are investment funds, traded like shares which hold assets such as shares, commodities or bonds. They normally closely track the performance of a financial index, and as such, their value can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you originally invested. Some ETFs rely on complex investment techniques, or hold riskier underlying assets, to achieve their objectives and therefore you should always ensure you read the documentation provided to ensure you fully understand before you invest the risks you are taking on.
Bonds are loans to a government or company. They are also known as debt investments, and cover the categories of Debt Securities and Fixed Income Investments. Generally, they will be more stable than share-based investments but in some circumstances (particularly when interest rates are changing) they can be more volatile. Bonds issued by major governments and companies are generally more stable than those issued by emerging markets or corporate issuers, and in the event of an issuer experiencing financial difficulty there may be a risk to some or all of the capital invested.
Leverage is a concept that can enable you to multiply your exposure to a financial market without committing extra investment capital. The amount needed to open and maintain a leveraged trade is called the margin. Trading using leverage is sometimes referred to as margin trading.
Leverage is available on several financial products, including spread bets, CFDs and forex trades. When trading using leverage, the provider will only ask for a fraction of the total value of your position: the rest is effectively lent to you by the provider.
Profits and losses are based on the total size of the position, so the end result of a trade can be much larger than the initial outlay. Losses can end up exceeding the initial deposit.
Different leveraged products work in different ways, but all amplify the potential profit and loss for a trader.
Some of the main leveraged products are:
- Contracts for difference (CFDs)
- Forex trades
One of the main reasons for choosing to trade Forex and CFD is access to leverage. Leverage offers a reduced margin requirement when compared to a full investment. But remember, if the market does not react your way, you can also lose more too. The higher the leverage, the faster you gain profit or loss.
Some products (such as Hedge Funds, Structured Products, Warrants and Venture Capital Trusts) are defined as complex. There is no single definition for complex products but products that fit into this category are generally those where:
- there is an actual or potential liability greater than the amount invested for the client; or
- the product is a derivative or has derivatives embedded in it; or
- there are limited opportunities to sell the product; or
- adequate comprehensive information is not generally available on the product.
These types of products carry additional risks to those described above for the other categories of investments and you must note the additional risk warnings that accompany these products. In some cases this category of investment may not be offered to some investors without undertaking further enquiries.
Certain investments are deemed to be non-mainstream collective investments (these include unregulated collective investment schemes, some special purpose vehicles and other complex investments) and are not subject to the same regulatory protections as other investments. It is ELP Finance LTD policy not to facilitate or advise on trades in such investments.
Investment manager risks
This is the risk of loss from the poor performance of the fund managers in your portfolio as well as by us in the management of your managed or advised portfolio.
Self-directed investment (execution-only services)
Self-directed investment, where investors make their own investment decisions and transactions are made on an execution-only basis, is not for everybody. Investors who choose to invest in this manner should regularly review their portfolio, or seek professional advice, to ensure that the underlying assets remain in line with their investment objectives. This can be particularly important for those investing towards a defined time horizon – for example, those investing for retirement via a pension.
Risk of using electronic trading service
Trading on an electronic trading system may differ from trading on other electronic trading systems. If you undertake transactions on an electronic trading system, you will be exposed to risks associated with the system including the failure of hardware and software. The result of any system failure may be that your order is either not executed according to your instructions or is not executed at all.
This list is not intended to be fully inclusive of all relevant risks. Should you be in any doubt as to the risks involved, or to the suitability of a particular investment, you should seek professional financial advice.