DEFINITION of 'Trust Certificate'
A bond or debt investment, usually in a public corporation, that is backed by other assets which serve a purpose similar to collateral. If the company experiences difficulty making payments, the assets may be seized or sold to help specific trust certificate holders recover a portion of their investment. The potential type of company assets used to create a trust certificate can vary, but most typically are other shares of company stock or physical equipment.
BREAKING DOWN 'Trust Certificate'
Investors holding trust certificates usually experience a higher level of safety than investors owning unsecured or uncollateralized bonds. But, they also typically earn a lower level of interest than those investors willing to take greater risks. While that may sound like an attractive balance for some investors, investing in trust certificates can be complex because it requires both an understanding of a company's overall financial situation and the nature of the asset that underlies the trust certificate.
Special caution should be taken when investing in trust certificates with an underlying asset that is the same company's stock. If the company runs into financial trouble, the asset backing the trust certificate can become as worthless as the trust certificate itself.