Child trust funds are a long-term investment strategy that allows parents, grandparents, friends, and virtually any interested adult, to ensure that a child is well equipped for a productive adult life. Three types of child trust funds are (1) cash (2) stakeholder (3) share-based.
Cash child trust funds carry the least amount of risk to the investment. They are equivalent to a savings account. One advantage is that the interest is tax-free. Investing in cash CTF is the ideal scenario for those investors who realize the importance of saving for their child's future, yet do not want to utilize the stock market for such investment.
A Stakeholder child trust fund takes on somewhat of a higher investment risk than cash CTF, but usually earns a higher return. There are restrictions on stakeholder child trust fund to ensure that money is diversified. In addition, when the child is 13 years old, the investment is typically shifted to lower risk markets to ensure that the end of the CTF lifecycle will be rather stable.
A share-based CTF permits higher returns, but it incurs charges to manage such fund. Meaning that one can typically earn higher rates of returns because the investment is placed in riskier funds, but in order to shift the investment between funds, one must pay to have the CTF managed. Thus, a profit will not be realized until one deducts the appropriate charges that will be assessed. The share-based CTFs give investors two options upon opening the CTF. One option is to choose a couple of funds and shift the investment between the two at the investors' leisure. The other option is to choose from an unrestricted list of funds, and shift the investment accordingly.
The following useful tips can be applied towards either type of CTF:
In cash CTFs, monitor the interest rate. Make sure you are receiving the most competitive interest rate as possible.
Keep in mind that any contributions to a CTF cannot be withdrawn until the child turns 18, and at that time, the child himself can only withdraw it.
Be aware of up-front charges when opening a stakeholder CTF and share-based CTF.
Remind friends and family members that they are able to contribute to a CTF
Understand the risks before deciding against a cash CTF
Start early. If one starts to invest early in a child's life, and chooses a stable fund, the long-term benefit will be realized.
Be a savvy investor. Research, and study your options. Evaluate your particular situation i.e. realistic monthly contributions, etc., and make an educated decision based on that information.