At a time when both asset managers and investors are looking for increased returns, a common theme we are seeing is the search for fund products that eliminate unnecessary tax leakage, thereby delivering enhanced returns. Although the Irish Common Contractual Fund (CCF) has been around since 2003, the new arrival of the UK Tax Transparent Fund (TTF) structure has resulted in a renewed focus and activity in the establishment and launch of CCFs. Part of the reason for this is that asset managers and multinationals realise that they can achieve savings of anywhere up to 20 basis points per annum with the right investment strategy and investor mix in a CCF.
Therefore the question that everyone should be asking themselves is – why are we not using a CCF?
What is a CCF?
A CCF is an Irish regulated asset pooling fund structure. It enables institutional investors to pool assets into a single fund vehicle with the aim of achieving cost savings, enhanced returns and operational efficiency through economies of scale. A CCF is an unincorporated body established under a deed where investors are “co-owners” of underlying assets which are held pro rata with their investment.
A CCF is established by a management company and investors must not be individuals i.e. only institutional investors are permitted in this structure. The CCF is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and can be structured as a UCITS or an AIF. A CCF is transparent for Irish legal and tax purposes.
Investors in the CCF are treated as if they directly own a proportionate share of the underlying investments in the CCF and therefore profits are treated as accruing or arising to the investors as if they had not passed through the CCF. The availability of double tax treaties reliefs are between the investor and investment jurisdiction. Therefore in a situation where you have a UK pension fund investor, it is the UK treaty with the country of investment that one would look to in order to determine the withholding tax rate on the equities held.
A key policy goal of the Irish Tax authorities is to enshrine the tax transparency of the CCF into any new double tax agreements, with a number of Irish Treaties already confirming CCF transparency.
Key tax benefits of the CCF include:
- The CCF benefits from Ireland’s competitive tax regime providing certainty, stability and transparency.
- Over 70 funds have been established since its creation in 2003.
- A CCF can avail of tax transparency in over 20 markets of investment; examples of such markets include Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US.
- Similar to all Irish regulated funds, the CCF benefits from a tax neutral regime
No subscription/financial transaction tax or other capital taxes, no taxation of income/gains and no net asset value tax. VAT efficiencies can be created for institutional investors pooling assets in a CCF compared to maintaining assets in segregated or separately managed accounts.
The CCF- the non tax benefits
As a CCF is tax transparent it allows pension funds and other institutional investors pool their investments creating economies of scale resulting in lowered costs, while maintaining withholding tax benefits which could otherwise be lost through traditional “opaque” investment vehicles.
Key non-tax benefits of the CCF are as follows:
- Economies of scale compared to fragmented investment products and strategies with different investment managers, administrators/custodians resulting in lower costs and enhanced investor returns.
- Facilitates more efficient governance and risk management for pension trustees and other stakeholders.
- Solvency II also gives rise to opportunities for the CCF, especially for insurance companies who will be looking to monitor their capital adequacy requirements.
- CCF’s can be used as an efficient pooling master vehicle under UCITS IV allowing direct investment for institutional/pension funds seeking tax transparency and opaque feeders for retail investors.
- Flexible structure to meet the demands of asset owners such as multinationals and can be established as a single or multi fund vehicle with single or multiple managers.
Unlike other products currently in the international market, the CCF has a ten year track record, is truly a multi-jurisdictional product with more than 20 investment countries recognising its tax transparency status.
Therefore the question that all asset managers, pension fund and institutional investors must ask themselves is – why are we not investing in a CCF instead of investing in other fund products? What are the benefits to us both in non- tax and tax terms of the CCF?
You have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that you are maximising returns. If you haven’t considered a CCF, now is the time to do so.
For additional information and for examples of the types of savings that can be achieved by a CCF, read Common Contractual Funds- the tax efficiency in asset pooling.
Deirdre Power, Partner, Deloitte & Touche