Gilt-edged securities

Gilt-edged securities are high-grade bonds issued by the UK government, considered low-risk investments due to their backing by the government.
Updated: Jun 17, 2024

3 key takeaways:

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  • Government-backed: Gilt-edged securities are issued by the UK government, offering high creditworthiness.
  • Low risk: These securities are considered safe investments with a low risk of default.
  • Fixed interest: Gilts typically offer fixed interest payments to investors, providing a reliable income stream.

What are gilt-edged securities?

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Gilt-edged securities, commonly known as gilts, are bonds issued by the UK government. They are considered one of the safest forms of investment because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the UK government. The term “gilt-edged” signifies high quality and low risk, reflecting the high creditworthiness of these securities.

Gilts are used by the government to raise funds for various public expenditures and to manage national debt. They are an essential component of the financial markets, providing a benchmark for other interest rates and offering a safe investment option for a wide range of investors.

Types of gilt-edged securities

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  1. Conventional gilts: These are the most common type of gilts, offering a fixed coupon payment every six months and a repayment of the principal amount at maturity. They have a specified maturity date, which can range from a few years to several decades.
  2. Index-linked gilts: These gilts provide payments that are adjusted for inflation. Both the coupon payments and the principal repayment are linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) or Consumer Price Index (CPI), protecting investors from inflation risk.
  3. Undated gilts: Also known as perpetual gilts, these securities have no fixed maturity date. They pay a steady stream of interest indefinitely but can be redeemed by the government at any time.

How do gilt-edged securities work?

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  1. Issuance: The UK government issues gilts through the Debt Management Office (DMO) via auctions and syndications. Investors bid for gilts, and the highest bidders receive the securities.
  2. Interest payments: Gilts pay regular interest, known as coupon payments, which are typically made semi-annually. The interest rate is fixed at issuance for conventional gilts or adjusted for inflation for index-linked gilts.
  3. Redemption: At maturity, the government repays the principal amount of the gilt to the holder. For undated gilts, there is no fixed maturity, but the government can choose to redeem them.

Benefits of investing in gilts

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  • Safety: As government-backed securities, gilts are considered very safe with minimal risk of default.
  • Predictable income: Fixed interest payments provide a reliable income stream for investors.
  • Inflation protection: Index-linked gilts offer protection against inflation, preserving the real value of investments.
  • Market liquidity: Gilts are highly liquid, meaning they can be easily bought and sold in the secondary market.

Drawbacks of investing in gilts

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  • Lower returns: Due to their low risk, gilts generally offer lower returns compared to other higher-risk investments like stocks.
  • Interest rate risk: If interest rates rise, the market value of existing gilts may fall, as newer issues may offer higher yields.
  • Inflation risk: Conventional gilts do not protect against inflation, which can erode the real value of interest payments and principal over time.
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  • UK Debt Management Office (DMO): Understanding the role of the DMO in issuing and managing UK government debt.
  • Bond market: A broader look at the bond market, including corporate bonds and municipal bonds.
  • Treasury bonds: Comparing gilts to U.S. Treasury bonds, which serve a similar purpose in the United States.
  • Investment strategies: Exploring various strategies for incorporating bonds, including gilts, into an investment portfolio.
  • Yield curve: Understanding the yield curve and how it reflects the relationship between interest rates and the maturities of debt securities.

By exploring these related topics, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of gilt-edged securities, their role in financial markets, and how they can fit into an investment strategy.

Sources & references
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AI Financial Assistant
Arti is a specialized AI Financial Assistant at Invezz, created to support the editorial team. He leverages both AI and the knowledge base, understands over 100,000... read more.