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UCIS is an acronym for Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes and the term unregulated can lead to confusion with inexperienced investment advisers as well as clients.
Many perfectly normal and commonly understood Collective Investment Schemes (CIS) are sold to investors throughout the UK. These CIS are regulated and are authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or they may also be non-UK CIS that are recognised by the FSA. The official term of recognition enables overseas CIS to be marketed to the public in the UK and the FSA will only recognise an overseas scheme if certain specified criteria are met.
CIS are a type of pooled investment. This is an arrangement that enables a number of investors to 'pool' their assets and have these managed by an independent professional, such as a fund manager who will reduce risk by investing the pooled money in one or more types of asset. Most investment ‘funds’ are collective investment schemes.
Investments are often in gilts, bonds and quoted equities, but depending on the type of scheme can go further, such as into unquoted shares or property.