Stock market: how to optimize your PEA

The attractiveness of this defiscalising envelope has somewhat faded. But the stock savings plan has strengths against life insurance, the favorite investment of the French

He had been successful at launch in 1992, helped by a favorable context. The stock savings plan (PEA) arrived at the right time to allow the French to house the new stock market values resulting from the privatizations of the government of Edouard Balladur: BNP, Rhone-Poulenc, Elf-Aquitaine … Since then, his star seems to be a little pale. Despite the good performance of equity markets in recent years, savings held by the French on their PEA melted 90 billion euros, end of 2013, to 79 billion in 2016. As for his little brother, the PEA -SME, focused on small and medium enterprises, as well as on mid-sized companies (ETI), it must be admitted: it is a failure.
While they are not necessarily very comfortable with the shares, it is perhaps not surprising that the French prefers by far the life insurance, but the PEA retains assets. The subscriber can indeed pay up to 150,000 euros and will be exempt from capital gains tax provided it does not withdraw any money during the first five years from the creation of the plan. A slight tax, therefore, but not zero, the gains being subject to social levies (CSG, CRDS …) up to 15.5%, which will be levied at the time of withdrawal.

“Take a date”

A first idea to optimize your PEA is to open it before you really need it, that is to say, even if you do not have in the short term the plan to pay large savings. This is called “taking a date”: just open an account with a few tens of euros (the law does not set a minimum threshold) to “trigger” the beginning of the five-year period after which the tax exemption will playfully.

A follower of the direct investment in shares will find his account because he will be able to select at his will shares of companies of small, medium or big size, provided that they have their seat in a country of the European Union. But a less sophisticated investor can invest through the funds and thus shelter behind the competence of a manager.

PEA is a much more flexible tool than most savers imagine

In addition, PEA is a much more flexible tool than most savers imagine. For example, if you have unrealized gains and you fear a troubled stock market year, nothing prevents you to materialize by selling shares or shares of funds, including before the fateful five years. When you sell, the cash stays inside the PEA. Your savings are not available, but they are liquid, so they are no longer exposed to market risk. You are free to stay in “cash” and keep ammunition for the moment when the valuations will seem reasonable again.

But there is more subtle. The funds eligible for the PEA must comply with a rule that is a priori very restrictive, namely to invest at least 75% ineligible actions. But this exposure to the equity market can be offset by the remaining 25%. This is particularly the case of so-called “long/short” funds which will simultaneously take long positions on certain stocks and short positions on others, the latter by means of derivatives that will appreciate mechanically if the action drop. As a result, the portion of a fund’s assets such as Sycomore L / S Opportunities exposed to market risk is currently around 50%. A key, a real damper in case of plunging indices.

A pilot on the plane

In the same vein, Dorval Convictions PEA can vary its “participation rate” in the equity market between 0% and 100% depending on the manager’s expectations. This type of strategy can allow a long-term investor to rest easy in times of crisis because there is a pilot on the plane. And in the latter case, the annualized performance of 10% over the last five years suggests that the pilot knows his job.

Still using derivatives, other strategies allow to “cheat” with the fundamental objective of the PEA, which was to finance French companies (and also European now). Some funds invested in European securities will be built specifically to exchange their performance against that of another basket of stocks or indices.

By formally complying with the PEA rule, certain ETFs ( exchange-traded funds ) will be able to reproduce the performance of US indices (Dow Jones, S & P 500, Nasdaq …), Japanese equities or Russian stocks, among many other strategies that are a priori unavailable under the PEA. This type of tool should not be abused, but at a time when the growth differential between emerging and developed countries is starting to widen again for the benefit of the former, this strategy makes it possible to diversify the risks a little.

If the PEA-PME has not been a great success, it is because most open PEAs are not saturated. The logic of “taking a date” can, however, encourage us to open one. After all, there is no guarantee that the taxation of both envelopes will always remain the same.