Margin loans in the UK

The UK has the most sophisticated financial services industry in Europe. And in some respects, one of the most sophisticated in the world. But in one area it clearly lags the USA – the stock market. Whether it comes to the size of the stock market, the % of society who own stocks/shares, or the number of stockbrokers – we in the UK are a long way behind our transatlantic cousins.

In the UK, even the concept of ‘margin loans’ would leave financially savvy stockmarket pundits scratching their head. Perhaps a couple of them – monevator comments readers I’m sure – would cross-reference to the excellent movie ‘Margin Call‘, starring Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore and Jeremy Irons, but that movie’s lack of success in the UK tells you what you need to know about the wider understanding of ‘margin lending’ in the UK.

As regular readers of this blog know, I am a member of that rare and unusual species – a UK user of margin loans. This page is to serve as some form of introduction to the concept for UK/European readers, as well as summarising some of my experiences and linking to further reading.

What is a margin loan?

Loans generally come in two shapes/sizes – secured loans, and unsecured loans. Secured loans – where the lender has some form of collateral – are cheaper, reflecting the lower risk that the lender is exposed to.

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Crowdfunding: why its returns suck

This post is in an occasional series of blog posts (starting here) examining angel investing and the role it plays in high net worth peoples’ investment portfolios. This post looks at the ‘angel investing goes mainstream’ route of investing via crowdfunding platforms, drawing on an exclusive survey I ran on my blog.

I’m dealing here with equities – buying shares in companies – though most of my arguments would apply to crowdfunding platforms offering ways to invest in property, loans, and other asset classes.

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Reducing my portfolio to one ETF

My last post, reviewing 2020, observed that my performance is, superficially at least, very similar to Vanguard’s WoRLd equity tracker ETF VWRL. Despite my portfolio involving a helluva lot more complexity/faff. My post elicited this comment from Bob:

Thanks for sharing, intriguing as always. As someone who recently (18 months ago) simplified my portfolio into three holdings: 1 VWRL seven figures, 2 [single megacap tech stock] six figures, 3 Vanguard Global Bond six figures. I find myself reading about your complexity and not feeling jealous one bit. So the question is, why do you dislike VWRL (or similar global tracker) so much? You mention the comparison several times, what is stopping you making the change? That is after all what reviews should lead to e.g. insights, and change.

Bob, commenting on 2 January 2020

Bob’s challenge is a good one. Why wouldn’t I just swap out my entire portfolio for, say, holding only a single world equities tracking ETF like VWRL or its non-Vanguard equivalents (see Monevator’s updated list of alternatives here, or the SRI alternatives listed on my ETFs page)?

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