Irish Life Multi-Asset Portfolios (or Irish Life MAPS) is hard to avoid. It’s the biggest multi-asset range of funds in Ireland.
It sometimes seems like its advertisements are on the side of every bus. And AIB, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank also promote it heavily.
So is it right for you, and what’s the alternative?
What is Irish Life MAPS anyway?
First, some basics.
MAPS is a set of five multi-asset funds. Each of the funds is designed to provide a different level of risk and reward, and you can generally move your money between the funds to dial your risk level up or down.
The funds were created in 2013, and at the end of August 2018, had more than €5.4 billion of funds under management.
It’s all about MAPS 3 and MAPS 4
However the vast majority (nearly 80%) of investors’ money can be found in just two of the five funds. MAPS 3 and MAPS 4 each contain around €2.1 billion of investors’ assets.
So here we’ve focused on those funds.
MAPS 3 is the lower-volatility fund. 42% of the fund was invested in company shares in August 2018. (The rest was in bonds, alternative assets, property and cash).
62% of MAPS 4 was invested in company shares in August 2018. The holdings include some of the world’s most successful companies in technology, consumer goods and industry.
Here’s the top 10:
First, the good news
Performance for both funds is pretty respectable.
Here’s a chart for MAPS 4. The green line shows that in the nearly five years since January 2014, the unit price is up 47%.
We’ve compared it with similar funds from Aviva, Friends First, Standard Life and Zurich. You can see that Irish Life’s fund leads the field.
Zurich is in second (and sometime first) place. The other three are clumped together at around 28% growth over the same time.
But that’s not the whole story…
Trouble is, these performance charts come with a lot of small print. In particular, this is before charges. And if you’re invested in Irish Life MAPS, the charges can be heavy.
Charges here come in several types.
Firstly, there’s the annual management charge, paid to Irish Life for running the fund. This can vary but Irish Life themselves indicate that the charge is 1.65% per year (see page 21 of this document, ‘Clear Invest’).
This is certainly at the expensive end; here at Moneycube we offer access to comparable multi-asset funds for 1.25%.
Then there are early exit charges. If you choose to take your money back from Irish Life in the first three years, you’re likely to be hit with an early exit penalty of 5% of your cash. (And you’ll be charged 3% if you sell in year 4, and 1% in year 5).
At Moneycube, by contrast, there are no exit fees.
Lastly, there’s the 1% government levy. Normally, this is an immediate 1% charge taken from your savings when you invest with a life assurance company.
However, at Moneycube we’ve negotiated terms with our fund suppliers to compensate you for this cost. (This is done via what’s known as an increased “allocation rate”).
The MAPS funds are also less flexible than other options. Irish Life requires a €10,000 minimum investment, with top-ups of €1,000 or more.
Here at Moneycube, you can get started with a lump sum of €2,500, or a monthly investment of €250.
We’ve set out a comparison in the table below. It suggests that you’d make around 11% more profit by using Moneycube instead of Irish Life.
As Irish Life MAPS celebrates its fifth birthday, it’s clear the fund managers are doing something right. There’s a good track record of growth, and some solid underlying investments.
But the heavy charges and lack of flexibility to exit early without penalty, or invest smaller amounts, might mean there are better options out there for you.
Talk to Moneycube today if you’d like to find out more.