What are investment funds?
Investment funds are investment products created with the sole purpose of gathering investors' capital, and investing that capital collectively through a portfolio of financial instruments such as stocks, bonds and other securities.
Investment funds play a crucial role in facilitating the accumulation of personal savings, whether for major investments or for retirement. They are also important because they make institutional and personal savings available as loans to companies and projects which contribute to growth and jobs.
Collective investment funds
As part of its effort to create a barrier-free market for collective investment funds, the EU enacted the following legislation.
Undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities
The directive on undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) is the main European framework covering collective investment schemes. This category of investment funds accounts for around 75% of all collective investments by small investors in Europe.
Alternative investment fund managers
The alternative investment fund managers (AIFM) directive covers managers of alternative investment schemes designed for professional investors. Alternative investment funds are funds that are not regulated at EU level by the UCITS directive. They include hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds and a wide range of other types of institutional funds.
European venture capital funds
The European venture capital funds (EuVECA) regulation covers a subcategory of alternative investment schemes that focus on start-ups and early stage companies. Venture capital investment is an important source of long-term financing to young and innovative companies.
European social entrepreneurship funds
The European social entrepreneurship funds (EuSEF) regulation covers alternative investment schemes that focus on social enterprises. These are companies that are set up with the explicit aim to have a positive social impact and address social objectives, rather than only maximising profit. While these enterprises often receive public support, private investment via funds still remains vital to their growth.
European long-term investment funds
The European long-term investment funds (ELTIF) regulation covers funds that focus on investing in various types of alternative asset classes such as infrastructure, small and medium sized enterprises and real assets.
Regulation on money market funds
Money market funds (MMFs) are investment vehicles where households, corporate treasurers or insurance companies can obtain a relatively safe and short-term investment for surplus cash. They are an important source of short-term financing for financial institutions, corporates and governments. In order to preserve the integrity and stability of the internal market, the EU adopted a regulation that will make MMFs more resilient to a future financial crisis.
Retail investment products
Investment products are complex and it can be difficult to compare them or fully grasp the risks they involve. To protect investors, the EU has adopted a regulation introducing a key information document (KID), a simple document giving investors key facts in a clear and understandable manner.
A KID is required for products including
- all types of investment funds
- insurance-based investments
- retail structured products
- private pensions