Collective investment schemes (Organismes de placement collectif en valeurs mobilières- OPCVM) are financial intermediaries that give their subscribers the possibility of investing on financial markets to which it would be difficult for them to have access otherwise (foreign financial and money markets, unlisted shares...).
The main activity of collective investment schemes consists in collecting funds and issuing securities to various agents (private individuals, companies, etc.) with a view to acquiring financial assets.
Traditionally, a distinction is made between two broad categories of collective investment scheme according to the way they are organised: on the one hand there are the Open-end Investment Companies (Sociétés d'Investissement à Capital Variable- Sicav) which are companies with a board of directors and, on the other hand, Mutual Funds (Fonds communs de placement- FCP) and their variants (mutual funds with a focus on corporations, etc.) which are not legal entities and are created on the initiative of a management company or a bank serving as custodian.
The Autorité des Marchés Financiers makes a distinction between six broad families of CIS according to the nature of the funds they manage: monetary, bond, share, alternative, formula and diversified collective investment schemes.