By Ian Lowes

Since the 2003 introduction of the first autocall investment, the Premier FTSE Growth Plan, the UK sector has revolved around a similar theme, albeit with gradual improvement, particularly over the last ten years. Helped by a number of regulatory nudges, the sector became one of the UK’s best investment secrets. In the early days however, there were some very questionable offerings.  By way of illustration we simply need to compare the first and second autocalls issued.  

The Premier offering and its sector successor, the Nvesta Accelerator Growth Plan were linked to the FTSE 100; both had a maximum term of six years, could mature on any anniversary and both had protection barriers the meant capital would be returned in full at maturity unless the FTSE suffered a substantial fall, or the counterparty failed.  But where the Premier plan offered an 8% potential return the Nvesta plan offered 12%.  This was because the Nvesta plan was not just a hurdle contract – the FTSE needed to be 6% higher on the first anniversary to trigger a maturity but it was a hurdle, step-up contract – the maturity trigger increased by a further 6% each year.

The risk however paid off, with the plan maturing on the second anniversary returning a 24% gain on the back of FTSE rise of little more than the required 12%.  This was fortuitous and we thankfully haven’t seen many such contracts since.  

When we back-test the Nvesta pay-off profile today, we can see that the plan would have matured positively in less than 70% of all completed terms ending in the last 20 years.  Compare that to the latest hurdle contract – Option 3 of the Mariana 10:10 Plan which has a better barrier, a closer maturity trigger at 105% - which is fixed throughout and a 12.25% potential return for each year in force but shows 100% back test success. 

Examining how an investment strategy would have performed historically does not have much bearing on how it will perform in the future, but by any measure, the most recently issued hurdle contract is substantially better than the second issued and has a longer potential duration of up to 10 years to prove it.  

Most of today’s main market linked autocalls are very sensible offerings but even after accounting all of the worst the sector has had to offer we have witnessed close to 100% success over nearly twenty years.  With such a record it’s a sector that’s certainly worthy of respect.

The next edition of the 10:10 Plan, the August 2022 issue will be published on on the week commencing Monday 20th June. 

The figures used relate to simulated past performance and actual past performance which is not a guide to future performance.

Structured investments put capital at risk.

Disclosure of interests: Lowes has provided input into the concept, development, promotion and distribution of the Mariana Capital 10:10 Plans and has a commercial interest in its success.