With commercial property looking fully valued and the outlook for equities uncertain, it is wise to spread client investments into some less risky areas.The Epic fund invests in a portfolio of US life settlements aiming to produce a minimum net return of 8 per cent a year but targeting a total net return of between 9 per cent and 10 per cent a year. A life settlement is the sale of a life insurance policy issued to a US resident, where the insured has an impaired life expectancy. The new owner pays all future premiums but collects full face value of the policy on death. US life insurance companies give miserable surrender values so since around 2000, the life settlement market has taken off. On average, policies are acquired by life settlement funds at a value of around three and half times the insurance companies’ surrender values and still give these excellent investment returns after all charges. Specialist advisers to the funds are ViaSource Funding Group, which is backed by GE Capital. Before they buy policies, they get two independent life expectancy reports and then their own medical team analyses and reviews these to decide what valuation to put on each policy. In the nine months that it has been in existence, it has already gone up by 8 per cent in dollar terms so it should reach the target of 10 per cent by the end of the year. Normal minimum investment is around 50,000 but initially this could be less by negotiation with marketing director John Buttress. See the website www.epicip.com. This is an ideal investment for all conservative and realistic portfolios in today’s markets.