Unit Investment Trust Funds (UITF) FAQs

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) ON UNIT INVESTMENT TRUST FUNDS (UITFs)

BDO-Trust has prepared the following UITF FAQs to provide basic information on the UITFs. The aim is to discuss the whats, hows and whys of UITF investing to enable clients to better understand the features, rewards and risks of UITF investing.

As a brief backgrounder, the UITFs were introduced in the Philippine market after the issuance of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Circular 447 in September 2004. This circular was subsequently amended by several BSP Circulars. Together, these circulars govern UITFs, aiming to align the management of these pooled funds by trust entities with international best practices and to ensure differentiation of such pooled funds from bank deposits and other direct liabilities. Industry standards for UITF client suitability assessment and risk disclosures are also defined in these regulations. 

As of year-end 2015, there are 24 trust entities in the Philippines offering an estimated 169 UITFs with assets under management of around Php674.88 billion (Source: www.uitf.com.ph).

1. What are Unit Investment Trust Funds (UITFs)?

Unit Investment Trust Funds (UITFs) are ready-made investments that allow the pooling of funds from different investors with similar investment objectives. These funds are managed by professional fund managers with the aim of meeting such objectives through investments in various financial instruments such as money market securities, bonds and/or equities.

 

2. Who can invest in UITFs?

Filipino Citizens, Philippine residents, and domestic corporations with capacity to contract and who are not considered US Persons under the US securities and tax laws may invest in the UITFs. 
 
Prospective participants/clients should also consult their own tax advisors as to the specific Philippine tax consequences of acquiring, holding and redeeming of units of any Fund/investment outlet, as well as the consequences arising under the laws of any other taxing jurisdiction

 

3. What benefits do I get from investing in a UITF?

Our wide selection of BDO UITFs allows you to choose one or a combination of UITFs that can meet your investment needs, financial requirements and life goals. With BDO UITFs, your common investing concerns can be addressed.

  • Diversification. By investing in UITFs, risks are spread out across the various investments held by the pooled trust fund. Regulations require that the combined exposure of the UITF to any entity and its related parties shall not exceed 15% of the market value of the UITF, except government securities. Another exception is for the equity funds that track the index, in which case, investments in particular stocks of a UITF can exceed the 15% limit to the extent of its share in index weight. 
  • Liquidity. While it is advisable to stay invested in the UITFs for at least the time horizon recommended for a particular UITF, UITFs are designed to allow you to redeem units of participation at any time. This is because the allowed investments of UITFs are limited to bank deposits/deposit substitutes and tradable investments.
  • Affordability. UITFs generally have low minimum investment requirements. Additional investments may be made in tranches as funds become available to the client.
  • Better earnings potential. Greater earnings potential is achieved without having to invest large sums of money. There are opportunities for potentially higher returns due to possible marked-to-market gains on top of accrued income or dividends from investments. UITFs provide access to financial instruments not readily available to retail investors.
  • Exempt from reserve requirements. UITFs are not subject to reserve requirements imposed on bank deposits, thus your funds are fully invested.
  • Professional fund management. Participating in the UITFs allows you to gain access to the expertise and services of seasoned fund managers who are able to actively monitor the markets for investment opportunities and manage the risks in line with the objectives and allowed investments of a particular UITF.
  • Transparency. Trust entities are required to publish the UITF price at least weekly, allowing investors to compare investment performance of various fund managers. Moreover, UITF prices are uploaded daily for UITFs enrolled in www.uitf.com.ph.
  • Regulated product. The management and administration of UITFs are governed by the BSP. Each UITF is subject to a separate annual audit by an independent auditor acceptable to the BSP, the results of which are available to investors upon request. In addition, each UITF is required to have a BSP accredited third party custodian, who is tasked with safekeeping the securities of the UITF and performing independent marking-to-market of such securities.

 

4. What is the minimum amount needed to invest in BDO UITFs?

Participation in the BDO UITFs may start for as low as PhP 10,000. (For more information on the minimum participation amounts of different UITFs, click here.  However, with the BDO Easy Investment Plan (EIP), you can invest in selected UITFs for as low as P1,000 a month contributed on a regular basis. (To know more about the EIP, click here.)

 

5. What are the different types of UITF?

There are four (4) general classifications of UITFs from which an interested investor can choose from. These are listed below according to ascending levels of risk, return and recommended investment time horizon.

  1. Money Market Funds. For moderate investors who wish to be invested in short term, fixed income deposits and securities with a portfolio duration of no more than one (1) year. Recommended for participants who can keep invested for at least six (6) months.
  2. Bond Funds. For moderate investors who wish to be invested in a portfolio of bonds and other fixed income securities with a portfolio duration which may exceed one (1) year. These may further be classified into Intermediate Funds (which limits duration up to 3 years), Medium Term Funds (which allows a duration of up to 5 years) and Long Term Funds (where the fund mandate allows a duration of greater than 5 years). Recommended for participants who can keep invested for at least three (3) years.
  3. Balanced Funds. For balanced investors who wish to achieve a higher return by investing in a portfolio of fixed income securities and equities. Recommended for participants who can keep invested for more than three (3) years.
  4. Equity Funds. For aggressive investors who wish to invest substantially in equities to achieve a higher long-term appreciation of growth of capital. Recommended for participants who can keep invested for more than three (3) years.

The following are the BDO UITFs available to you:

  1. Money Market Funds
    1. BDO Peso Money Market Fund
    2. BDO Dollar Money Market Fund
    3. BDO Institutional Cash Reserve Fund
  2. Bond Funds
    • BDO GS Fund
    • BDO Peso Bond Fund (formerly BDO Peso Fixed Income Fund)
    • BDO Dollar Bond Fund
    • BDO Medium Term Dollar Bond Fund (EPCIB US Dollar Fund)
    • BDO MERIT Fund
  3. Balanced Fund
    • BDO Peso Balanced Fund
  4. Equity Funds
    • BDO ESG Equity Fund
    • BDO Sustainable Dividend Fund
    • BDO Equity Index Fund
    • BDO Equity Fund (EPCIB Equity Fund)
    • BDO Institutional Equity Fund
    • BDO Focused Equity Fund

UITFs may also be structured as Feeder Funds which are mandated to invest at least 90% of its assets in another pooled investment fund or collective investment scheme. BDO Feeder Funds are invested in dollar-denominated equity funds managed by reputable global fund managers who have undergone the thorough screening process employed by BDO Trust. These UITFs are recommended for aggressive investors seeking capital growth and who can keep invested for more than three (3) years.

The following are the BDO Feeder Funds available to you:

  • BDO Developed Markets Property Index Feeder Fund
  • BDO Global Equity Select Feeder Fund
  • BDO China Equity Feeder Fund
  • BDO US Equity Feeder Fund

 

6. How do I know which UITF is suitable for me?

Your choice of UITF should conform to the length of time you can afford to keep your funds   invested and the degree of risk that you are willing to take in order to achieve your desired returns for your specific financial goals. UITFs are established and managed based on a set of investment objectives and strategies, and these have varying levels of risks and returns.

Before investing in a UITF, ask a UITF certified marketing personnel to help you assess your investment needs and objectives through a conduct of a Client Suitability Assessment (CSA). The CSA will help you understand the type of investor you are and will provide you a general idea of your investment preference which will serve as the basis for the presentation/recommendation of what UITF/s is/are suitable to you. 

You may also take the CSA via the UITF Online Investing Facility. Just log-in to your BDO Personal Online Banking account and answer the assessment online.

 

7. How do I invest in the UITFs?

  • In order to participate in any of the UITFs, you should purchase participating units in the fund. A participating unit has a daily “price” which is called the Net Asset Value per Unit (NAVPU).   
  • After admission to the fund, participants of the UITF will receive a Confirmation of Participation (COP), as evidence of participation. This will contain the details of your UITF investment such as the amount of participation, NAVPU on the date of purchase and the number of participating units. Also, at the back portion of the COP is a copy of the Participating Trust Agreement which contains the terms and conditions governing the client and the Trustee, subject to the provisions set forth in the Declaration of Trust (DOT) or Plan Rules of the particular UITF.

 

8. How do I determine the market value and returns of my UITF investments?

On any given date, you can compute the market value of your UITF investment by multiplying the number of units you own by the NAVPU for the day, which is available daily through various channels like any BDO branch and this link.

Market Value Computation Example: 

No. of Units Owned 100 units
NAVPU for the Day Php 1.50
Market Value of UITF Investment 100 units x Php 1.50 = Php 150

After getting the market value of your UITF investment, you can determine the returns by comparing it with your original purchase amount. If the value of your UITF increased, there is a gain/earning and if it decreased, there is a loss.

Returns Computation Example:

Computed Market Value of UITF Investment Php 150
Original Purchase Amount of UITF Php 100
Gain/ (Loss) Php 150 – Php 100 = Php 50

Since the market value is higher than the original purchase amount in this example, you are gaining P50 for your participation at point of computation.

 

9. Are the returns from investments in UITFs guaranteed?

UITFs are not deposit accounts but are investment products offered by Trust Entities. Participants in UITFs are making an investment and not a deposit. Therefore, BDO UITFs are not considered as obligations of BDO nor can the principal and returns be guaranteed by BDO or its affiliates and subsidiaries. UITFs are not insured or governed by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC). 

Although not a guarantee of similar future results, historical performance would show that the BDO UITFs have a track record of outperforming their respective benchmarks and have rewarded their investors with returns corresponding to the risks that these investors have taken. (Click here for the performance of the BDO UITFs)

 

10. How are Return On Investments (ROIs) of UITFs stated?

Following global best practices, ROIs of UITFs are based on absolute yields. Absolute yield is the actual ROI of a particular investment product during a specific time frame.

To illustrate:

  1. Cost of investment is P10,000.00. After 30 days, the total market value is P10,100.00. The appreciation in value is P100.00. The absolute yield for 30 days is 1% (P100.00/P10,000.00).
  2. Cost of investment is P10,000.00. After 3 months or 90 days, the total market value is P20,000.00. The appreciation value is P10,000.00. The absolute yield for 3 months is 100% (P10,000.00/P10,000.00).

 

11. What is difference between the absolute yield and the annualized yield?

An annualized yield is when absolute yield is converted to its per annum equivalent.

To illustrate using above examples:

  1. The equivalent annualized yield is 12% p.a. (or 1% X 12 months)
  2. The equivalent annualized yield is 400% p.a. (or 100% X 4 quarters)

Since UITFs use a marked-to-market valuation methodology, it is not practicable to use annualized yields similar to that used in Time Deposit quotes.

 

12. What are the potential risks in investing in a UITF?

The underlying securities that a particular UITF is invested in will determine the kind of risks you will be exposed to when you invest in the fund. These are samples of risks when it comes to investing:

  • Interest Rate risk. The potential for an investor to experience losses due to changes in interest rates;
  • Market/Price risk. The potential for an investor to experience losses due to changes in the market prices of securities (e.g. bonds and equities);
  • Liquidity risk. The inability to sell or convert assets into cash quickly or where conversion to cash is possible but at a loss;
  • Credit risk. The possibility of loss due to a borrower’s or issuer’s failure to repay principal and/or interest on securities issued;
  • Reinvestment risk. The possibility of having lower returns or earnings when maturing funds or the interest earnings of funds are reinvested;
  • Hedging risk. The possibility for an investor to experience losses brought about by the inherent risks which the underlying investment is exposed to despite the use of a hedging instrument;
  • Foreign Exchange risk. The possibility for an investor to experience losses due to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates; and
  • Country risk. The possibility for an investor to experience losses arising from investments in securities issued by/in foreign countries due to the political, economic and social structures of such countries.

Please click this link to read through the complete Risk Disclosure Statement.

 

13. How do I make my contributions in a UITF?

Just visit any BDO branch nearest you or log-in to your BDO Personal Online Banking account to invest in the UITFs. Contributions may be made in cash, BDO and manager’s check or debit from your BDO account, as applicable. For information on the dealing time per UITF, please click here.

 

14. How do I redeem my investments in a UITF?

For UITF investments coursed through a BDO branch, fill-out the Notice of Redemption of Participation found at the lower portion of your COP and submit this to the same BDO Branch where you opened your UITF.

For UITF investments done online, you need to submit your redemption request via the UITF Online Investing Facility.

For more information on the dealing time and settlement period per UITF, please click here.

 

15. What are the management fees that I will pay when investing in the BDO UITFs?

As compensation for the Trustee’s services and to cover for the costs involved in managing the UITF, a trust fee, which may range between 0.50% and 1.50% is charged to the fund and is already incorporated in the daily NAVPU of the particular BDO UITF. There are no agent’s commissions which is common practice for mutual or insurance funds.

16. Are investment proceeds from the UITFs subject to taxes?

Taxes, when due, are already deducted when computing the NAVPU. Thus, proceeds from UITFs are already net of taxes.

 

17. Are there any penalties when investing in BDO UITFs?

Except for the BDO Peso Money Market Fund (PMMF), all other BDO UITFs are subject to a 30-day minimum holding period. Redemption of your UITF investment within the holding period will be subject to an early redemption fee, which will be deducted from your redemption proceeds. To know the early redemption fees of BDO UITFs, please click here.

 

18. How do I monitor the performance of my investment?

To monitor the performance of your UITF investments, the NAVPU of the different UITFs are available in the following channels:

  • BDO Homepage (http://www.bdo.com.ph)
  • UITF Industry website (http://www.uitf.com.ph)
  • For Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers, just text SMAC NAV and send to 2966
  • BDO Phonebanking: (63)(2)-631-8000
  • BDO Personal Online Banking, please click here for the enrollment process in Internet Banking. With BDO Personal Online Banking, you can view the status and transaction history of all your UITF investments.

Also, a UITF Yield Calculator is available via this link. This automatically computes for the client’s gains/ losses simply by inputting the purchase and redemption dates of particular UITF investments.

 

19. Where can I find information updating me about the investments and performance of the BDO UITFs?

Regulations require that disclosures on each UITF be made available to its participants at least every calendar quarter. These disclosures, in the form of Key Information and Investment Disclosure Statement (KIIDS) prescribed by the BSP across the industry, include the performance and the update of the prospective and outstanding investment outlets of each UITF. The KIIDS aims to provide UITF participants with key information and disclosure to facilitate better understanding and comparison of UITFs offered by trust entities. BDO Trust prepares the KIIDS of all BDO UITFs on a monthly basis, and can be found here under the Disclosures section.