What are shares loans?
If you are applying for a personal loan, lender will often want to secure the loan with some type of collateral. Loans may be secured against a property or a car, for example, and if you fail to repay the debt you would be in danger of losing these assets.
Shares loans are another type of secured loan usually known as margin loans, where you borrow money that you are going to invest. The shares or managed funds you invest in are used as the collateral to give the lender security. Shares loans are for those who are dedicated investors, so if you are looking to use a shares loan as an investment vehicle you should be someone that actively monitors and manages investments.
Why do people use shares loans?
If developing your portfolio of investments is an integral part of your financial plans but you don't have sufficient spare cash to take out further investments, then shares loans can help to bridge that gap. You need to be knowledgeable about how the financial markets work and be clear about the pros and cons of this type of borrowing. It's not for everyone so if you are considering it make sure you really do have a broad understanding of what you are doing.
What are the main features of shares loans?
When you are loaned money to buy shares your lender uses the shares you buy as security. If you don't repay the loan the lender is entitled to sell the shares so the loan is repaid. Share prices move frequently, exposing you to the risk of them falling in value as well as increasing. Lenders will gauge the risk of a loan by using a Loan to Value Ratio (LVR). They will calculate the LVR by dividing the amount of your loan by the overall value of your shares. The majority of lenders will require you to maintain a LVR below 70%, with that being the maximum level. If your investment values fall to where the loan exceeds the agreed maximum LVR you may have to top up your investment or make a repayment of some of the loan, known as a "margin call".
You should explore a range of options before taking out a shares loan to ensure you are getting an appropriate deal, especially relating to terms, conditions and fees.
What are the pros and cons of shares loans?
Shares loans are considered high risk. High risks mean that if the market in your shares does well you could make good money. Equally if the market falls you could be facing considerable losses and have to sell some of your investment to meet a margin call – the price will be low and you'll have lost money. If you use your home as collateral as well as shares you could lose it, and lenders may also require you to pay of the loan at short notice if they decide your collateral is no longer viable to secure your investment.