Until recently, there weren’t many investment opportunities for kids outside of savings accounts – that’s where the iTrust Invest app fills a niche.
iTrust Invest has been described as the “ultimate giveaway”. Parents and guardians can contribute gifts for children in the app, starting at $10. From there, people can make regular contributions to the account, with funds used by iTrust to invest in stock pools and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Founded in 2018, the app is registered with the corporate regulator ASIC.
iTrust Invest is a new addition to the litany of micro-investing apps – Raiz, CommSec Pocket, Spaceship, Blossom and Bloom to name a few – but few are designed to prepare children for the future. However, there are a few considerations to weigh before getting started.
Quick overview of iTrust Invest:
Three fund options – Gold, Balanced or Global Equity
Fee of $3.50 per month (or $35 paid annually), no fees to contribute, withdraw or exit
Encrypted platform with bank-grade protection
Manage up to 10 children/beneficiaries with the Guardian account
The minimum deposit and withdrawal is $10
Need a place to store cash and earn interest? The table below shows savings accounts with some of the highest interest rates on the market.
Rates based on a savings balance of $10,000. Sorted by total interest rates. Check the providers’ websites for terms of bonus rates and applicable fees and charges. Rates correct as of July 13, 2022. See disclaimer.
How iTrust Invest works
iTrust Invest is designed for parents and caregivers to offer children small investments. In the app, users share the unique link associated with the child’s account and loved ones can deposit money there.
There are three main wallet options for parents:
Gold: Essentially a skin of the ASX: GOLD ETF. 8.2% return per year since inception until February 28, 2022.
Balance: Uses Vanguard’s Diversified Balanced ETF (VDBA). Half of the fund is dedicated to income assets such as bonds, while the other half is dedicated to growth assets such as stocks. 6% return per year since inception until February 28, 2022.
Global Equities: Invests in 20-40 of the best global stocks through the Magellan Global Fund. Return of 11.1% per annum from inception to February 28, 2022.
Note that past performance is not indicative of future performance.
Distributions are paid to investors on an annual basis on June 30 of each year. They are then reinvested in each account, but users are free to withdraw any amount from the distribution.
The suggested minimum investment period is 5 to 10 years.
In addition to the monthly fee of $3.50 (or $35 annually), total management fees of 0.9925% to 2.2925% (varies by investment fund) also apply, which are deducted total returns. So if you had an investment of $50,000, you might have to pay annual management fees ranging from $496 to $1,146 depending on your asset allocation.
iTrust Microinvesting Cost Comparison
Since iTrust’s wallets are essentially ETF skins in the market, it’s easier to compare costs. If you went through a broker, brokerage fees start at around $5.
Gold: ETF Securities ‘GOLD’ ETF – each unit of this fund represents an entitlement to 0.009294232 fine troy ounces (one fine troy ounce equals approximately 31.1 g) of physical gold as of July 12, 2022, which is reduced daily by management fee of 0.40% per year.
Balance: Vanguard ‘VDBA’ ETF – 0.27% management fee per annum.
Global Equities: Magellan Global Fund – 1.35% annual management fee plus performance fee (10% above benchmark).
Minimum investments through brokers are also a hindrance – they usually require $500 as a minimum. Magellan generally requires a minimum investment of at least $10,000.
“Investors in the iTrust fund have access to quality investment funds that they may not be able to access on their own, due to the requirement to be a sophisticated investor or the high entry level of the initial investment which can range from $10,000 to $250,000,” reads the iTrust PDS.
The facility to deposit small sums – say Nan’s $20 – is a key advantage of iTrust Invest. The $3.50 monthly fee and performance fee might be worth it. It might not make sense to pay at least $5 in brokerage every time Christmas rolls around. You will need to assess how often and how much you intend to deposit with.
How to start
Investors can create an account in 2-3 minutes and immediately create up to 10 beneficiary or child accounts. The crypto banking system is backed by Westpac.
According to founder Lawrence Stapleton, the fund can help reduce plastic waste because children are not getting toys they will throw away in a year.
“People often tell me what they love most about our platform and our giving capabilities is that it’s a lasting gift to give, in every sense of the word,” said Mr Stapleton.
“Making an investment in gifts helps prevent wasteful and unnecessary packaging from ending up in landfill. And, of course, the more you choose to promise a financial investment to a special child in your life, the more waste you avoid.
With the highest inflation in decades, Aunt Flo’s $20 on a card realistically loses value the longer it’s held.
“We all know grandparents and other family members who like to give kids money for their birthdays,” Stapleton said.
“Choosing instead to send a financial investment as a gift by making a direct contribution simply accelerates that investment and opens up a whole world of exciting possibilities for their future.”
Is iTrust Invest safe?
iTrust Invest has a few safeguards in place to ensure the safety of your funds. However, as with all investment products and stocks, you may lose money.
Deposit of funds
Depositors can inject funds through the iTrust Invest portal, which is provided through Westpac’s online debit service. It is an encrypted banking service, which means it is a secure way to transfer money.
Investments are not actually owned by iTrust. Instead, they are protected at all times by ASIC’s approved custodian, Perpetual Corporate Trust Limited.
Accountable entity and fund managers
The responsible entity is Stapleton Asset Management Limited (SAML), of which iTrust founder Lawrence Stapleton is executive chairman. SAML is responsible for supervising operations and selecting the underlying investment funds.
Advantages of iTrust Invest
1. Micro-investment for children
As mentioned earlier, this micro-investing app seems to be distinct in the market in that it is primarily designed for children. While kids can’t exactly control the investments themselves, parents can direct spending money, gifts, and other funds for kids to iTrust.
2. Easy gift idea
Having children or grandchildren these days is difficult. Twenty bucks on a card might not excite you and will likely be spent on something you don’t understand. At least with this app you can feel good knowing that you are trying to prepare your child for the future.
3. Potentially higher returns than a bank account
Bank accounts – even children’s – are lucky to earn well over 3.00% a year. Although the risk is higher with stocks and gold, the returns over time could be more fruitful. As the old saying goes, it’s “time in market, not market timing”.
4. Choose assets based on your risk appetite
Currently, there are three asset classes – Gold, Balanced and Global Equities. Gold has traditionally been a fairly safe if unattractive asset and tends to do well in times of crisis. A balanced portfolio is exactly as described, while global equities are more risky, but the potential return is greater. iTrust says more options are on the way.
5. Easy to set up and contribute
Accounts can be created in minutes and parents can easily control up to 10 child accounts under one umbrella. From there, you can share a contribution link among your loved ones who can easily contribute $10 or more to the account. The idea with the $10 is that it then increases dramatically over time.
Disadvantages of iTrust Invest
1. Limited Wallet Options
Currently, there are only three wallet options. Compared to other micro-investment apps – such as Raiz’s sevens – this is limited. For the eco-conscious, there are also limited options for investing in ethical options. That said, there would be more wallets on the way.
2. Not as secure as a bank account
The investment route of choice for young children has typically been a savings account. Although unexciting, they offer a safer avenue for parking money than the stock market. This is largely because all deposits are backed by the government’s Financial Claims Scheme, guaranteeing up to $250,000 per ADI or bank.
3. Not sponsored by CHESS
CHESS stands for Clearing House Electronic Subregister System and basically means that you have a written record of ownership of those shares. You will receive a CHESS referral notification if you purchase stocks or ETFs through a broker. With iTrust and other micro-investment apps, you’re essentially investing in a trust that does the work for you.
$3.50 per month (or $35 per year if paid up front) and annual fee of 1.125% to 2.2925% is comparable to other micro-investing apps (e.g. Raiz also costs 3 $.50 per month), but can add up. At the low end, on a $10,000 investment that could add up to 1.6% or $160 – the performance fee is not upfront, so you might not notice it.
You will have to do the math here. Micro investing tends to suit smaller, more frequent deposits, while going through a broker may suit the opposite approach.
5. The child might not like it
In the end, what will a child appreciate the most? A Minecraft skin, a Transformer… or here little Johnny, have $20 towards the VDBA ETF.
When I was a kid, my grandma gave me child sponsorship from World Vision – the charity cause was lost on me because I asked for Pokemon cards. Every kid is different, so you might have to pay double – a little money on the Transformer and a little money on iTrust to keep them happy on their birthday.
Photo by McKaela Taylor on Unsplash