The main feature which the various bodies to be examined in this chapter have in common is that the major type of financial claim which they issue is formally almost identical with the major assets which they hold. In this they are distinguished from other financial institutions, which have a sharp differentiation between the nature of the claims which they issue and the assets which they hold. Investment trust companies, unit trusts and the other similar bodies have portfolios which consist very largely of ordinary shares, and the main claims which they issue are equity claims on a proportionate part of the portfolio. Thus they are means whereby investors can obtain a share in a portfolio very much larger and more diversified than their individual portfolios could be. They are in essence the pooling of the portfolios of a number of different economic units.
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