Review: Octopus AIM Inheritance Tax Service

Archived article

Archived article: please remember tax and investment rules and circumstances can change over time. This article reflects our views at the time of publication.

The longstanding Octopus AIM Inheritance Tax Service is available in or outside an ISA. It seeks to take advantage of Business Property Relief (BPR) whereby shares in certain AIM companies should be exempt from IHT after two years if you still hold them on death. Currently over £1.3 billion is invested in the Octopus AIM IHT service.

Thanks to increased allowances, couples can this year start to shelter £40,000 from IHT in an AIM ISA. 


  • Largest ready-made AIM IHT portfolio
  • Impressive long term performance record (not a guide to the future)
  • Established and profitable businesses sought
  • Available in or outside an ISA
  • Save on the initial charge via Wealth Club, compared with going direct

Read more about Octopus AIM IHT Service (ISA)
Read more about Octopus AIM IHT Service (non-ISA)

Video interview

The manager

The Octopus AIM Inheritance Tax Service is run by the Octopus UK Smaller Companies team which has a combined experience of more than 100 years. The team, which includes Richard Power, Kate Tidbury, Andrew Buchanan, Chris McVey, Edward Griffiths, Stephen Henderson, Mark Symington and Dominic Weller, manages over £1.3 billion in AIM-quoted companies. In total Octopus manages over £6.3 billion and has more than 500 employees.


There are around 900 companies on AIM – but only 25-30 make it into the Octopus portfolio. These are not fledgling businesses:the team look for established firms with growth potential. In fact, the average market value of the portfolio companies is £673 million (31 December 2017). The team seeks defensive companies it believes have a competitive edge, a strong balance sheet and preferably recurring revenues. 

As you can see from the chart below, to date the investment process has worked. The median performance of the portfolio since launch in June 2005 to 31 December 2017 is 281.76%, compared with 20.05% for the AIM All-Share. Please note past performance is not a guide to the future.


Octopus AIM IHT ISA total return – annual performance

Octopus AIM IHT ISA July2017

Source: Octopus Investments; 31 January 2018

Annual performance to 31 December (%)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Octopus AIM Inheritance Tax Portfolio 51.87% 13.03% 25.85% 6.48% 27.79%
FTSE AIM All-Share (Total Return) 21.33% -16.53% 6.63% 16.07% 25.93%

Source: Octopus Investments, to 31 December 2017.

Total returns of the Octopus AIM Inheritance Tax Service portfolio are median returns from 30 June 2005 with an appropriate sample of investor portfolios. If cash is added or withdrawn during the relevant period, these portfolios have been removed from the calculation. Total returns include the impact of dividend income, interest, management fees and dealing fees. Performance is shown alongside the total returns of the FTSE AIM All-Share and FTSE All-Share (Total Return) indices. Neither index is used as a benchmark for the AIM Inheritance Tax portfolio due to the limited universe of stocks eligible and available to the fund. Past performance is not a guide to the future.

What kind of companies are in the portfolio?

AIM is home to a wide range of companies – young and old, profitable and unprofitable, well run and not. The skill of an AIM fund manager is in sorting the wheat from the chaff. Examples of AIM stocks in the Octopus IHT portfolio include:

Beer taps – Young & Co.'s Brewery is one of the oldest established companies on AIM

Young & Co's Brewery – one of the oldest established businesses in the portfolio. It has 169 managed pubs and 79 tenanted pubs throughout London and the South East of England. Market capitalisation £421 million (Feb 18)

Business documents – RWS plc is a leading provider of technical translation services

RWS plc – leading provider of intellectual property support services and technical translation services. The group translates over 50,000 patents a year for clients in legal, financial, medical, pharmaceutical, chemical, engineering and telecom sectors. Market capitalisation £1.2 billion (Jan 18).

Shredded documents - Restore plc is a specialist in document management

Restore plc – specialist in document management and office relocation. It has grown significantly recently and benefits from high levels of recurring revenues from clients in the public and private sectors. Market capitalisation £586 million (Jan 2018)

Exit strategy and access to your investment

Investments in this portfolio are for the long term. However, if your circumstances change, you can sell some or all of your shares, although sometimes this can take a little while. You can arrange to take regular withdrawals from the account, which you can change or stop at any time. Any amount you withdraw will of course no longer be IHT free and will lose its ISA tax benefits.

On your death, your heirs can decide to keep the portfolio invested, liquidate it or use it to pay any IHT due. The claiming process is straightforward, via a simple form to complete and send to HMRC. Octopus prides itself both on its customer service and its experience in paying out on death.


Eligibility for BPR is assessed at the date of death and will depend on the companies remaining qualifying. Remember, tax rules can change and the value of tax benefits depends on circumstances.

Liquidity of companies listed on AIM is a key risk. AIM can be a volatile market with little trading at certain points. Octopus is one of the largest managers in this market, which brings benefits in terms of company access but could also restrict trading ability.

Capital is at risk and you should not invest money you cannot afford to lose.


For the AIM ISA, the initial charge is 0.75% through Wealth Club (normally 1%).The annual management fee is 2% plus VAT. In addition, there is a share dealing charge of 1% on all purchases and sales. There is no performance fee. Please see the provider's documents for more details on the total fees and charges. If you would like a full breakdown of charges, or a personal illustration, please let us know.

Our view

This long-standing inheritance tax service has comfortably outperformed the AIM index since inception, though remember past performance is not a guide to the future. The team’s size and level of funds under management ensure excellent access to underlying companies. The Octopus AIM IHT service is one of our favourites for consideration.

Read more about Octopus AIM IHT Service (ISA)
Read more about Octopus AIM IHT Service (non-ISA)

Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – tax-efficient investments. You should base your investment decision on the provider's documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. This review is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy the investment mentioned. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination.