We asked trusted experts to recommend the best funds and investment trusts that cover different investment sectors – and included This is Money’s selection of active and passive options too.
Investors are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on funds and investment trusts that can put their money to work.
Funds, trusts and trackers deliver the chance to invest in almost anything you can think of, almost anywhere you want to, at a low cost and with minimal effort.
Yet, with all that choice comes a tricky task. An encounter with the list of almost 3,000 UK-based fund options on offer can be very confusing, even for an experienced investor.
An encounter with the list of almost 3,000 UK-based fund options on offer can be confusing
So we asked some trusted experts to recommend the best funds that cover different investment sectors – and also included This is Money’s selection of some passive fund options too.
To give you some investing ideas, here are 50 of the best funds.
How to use these fund ideas
This is Money’s Top 50 funds and investment trusts list is designed as a starting point for your investment ideas.
Before you consider investing, it is important that you do your own research and consider how a fund, trust or tracker may fit into your existing portfolio.
You need to consider whether it is right for you as an investor – and whether it is right for the assembled team of investments that a balanced portfolio holds.
For more help understanding picking funds and asset allocation, download our free investing guide: How to be a successful investor
Cautious or risk-averse investor
‘Rathbone Strategic Growth Portfolio is one of the new breed of funds that target risk and then look to maximise returns,’ says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘It is a fund of funds with the manager selecting what his team like to call ‘best of breed’ funds – whether they are actively managed open-ended funds, investment trusts or index funds. This fund is targeting a risk of around two thirds of equities, so investors are shielded somewhat during market downturns.’
‘This fund has an approximate 70:30 ratio between holdings in fixed income and equities, with the allocation actively managed and a focus on risk control and capital preservation,’ says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘I really like the fact that the managers attend company meetings together and decide not only whether or not to invest, but if the investment would be best made via the company’s equity or debt. While exercising caution and diversification, the fund has a record of consistently outperforming the sector average and is a strong contender for cautious investors.
‘A cautious fund is one that is spread across more than one asset class, and which restricts how much can be in the stock market’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy. ‘Most suitable for either a novice investor or someone who would find the day to day ups and downs of the stock market too volatile.
‘The hunting ground for cautious funds is primarily two sectors. For less active investors we are looking for consistent performance over longer periods. In Mixed Investment 0-35% Shares, we would choose Jupiter Distribution, while in Mixed Investment 0-35% Shares, we would choose M&G Episode Allocation.’
Ongoing charges: 0.79%
‘Newton Real Return manager Iain Stewart focuses on capital preservation first and then capital growth second’, says Architas’ Adrian Lowcock. ‘This is because he believes it is easier to grow your capital if the value hasn’t already fallen. I.e. if £100 falls to £90 it would need to grow just over 22% to get to £110, whereas it only needs to rise 10% from the original £100 investment a much smaller ask. Stewart runs a core portfolio of blue chip large UK companies and then compliments this with exposure to cash and government bonds to keep the volatility down and protect the portfolio.’
Ongoing charges: 0.81%
Pyrford global total return invests in a combination of shares, government bonds and cash with the aim of delivering attractive long term growth with less volatility than the stock market and was chosen by Mark Dampier of Hargreaves Lansdown. In its Wealth 150 report, it says: ‘They adopt a disciplined and long-term approach, which is all too rare in the investment world, and we consider it cautious at heart. This fund could sit at the core of virtually any investment portfolio.
Ongoing charges: 0.93%
‘Here you would be looking for a flexible trust with proven ability to protect client capital in more volatile market conditions’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘The trusts we like have a relatively low correlation to broader equity markets. We have been long term investors in RIT Capital Partners which provides attractive exposure to areas like property and private equity. That said there is reasonably large premium on this trust. Personal Assets Trust is a defensively positioned trust with a relatively low exposure to equities and positions in index linked government debt and gold. It has proven resilient in more challenging market conditions (eg 2008) and operates with a zero discount policy.’
Ongoing charges: 0.22%
The Vanguard LifeStrategy funds allow investors to choose their risk levels and then buys a basket of assets that suits them, across shares and bonds around the world. They are cheap, simple and allow investors to move from the cautious end of the scale at 20 per cent equities, to the high risk at 100 per cent equities. Ongoing charges are just 0.22 per cent and the more cautious options would hold 40 per cent equities or less.
The Vanguard LifeStrategy funds allow investors to choose their risk levels and then buys a basket of assets that suits them
Ongoing charges: 0.91%
‘With inflation rising in the UK and interest rates rising in the US, I believe you need to be invested in a fully flexible bond fund right now’, says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘M&G Optimal Income epitomises this. It is a ‘go anywhere’ fund which allows the manager to invest across the bond spectrum without constraint and can even invest a portion in equities if the manager thinks the income opportunities are better.’
Ongoing charges: 0.83%
Royal London Sterling Extra Yield is a flexible strategic bond fund picked by Mark damiper of Hargreaves Lansdown. In its Wealth 150 report, it says: ‘We consider this to be at the higher risk end of bond portfolios. As such this fund could be considered by investors looking for a higher level of income, but who are willing to tolerate potentially higher volatility in search of superior long-term returns.’
Ongoing charges: 0.80%
‘After a 30 odd years of rising prices, the years ahead are not going to be easy for fund managers’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy. ‘There is one fund which has stood out in recent years, as it has great flexibility in its mandate which is well deployed by the manager, M&G Global Macro Bond. As well as a global brief it exploits opportunities in both bonds and currencies, with considerable success.’
‘In general, we prefer funds that will be resilient or benefit from a rising rate environment, as well as those with sufficient yield to insulate against the impact of a rise in rates’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘In Europe, we believe CVC Credit Partners European Opportunities is a good option for investors looking for a stable yield, currently 4.8%.’
Artemis Income seek undervalued companies that are not only able to generate a high degree of surplus cash, but also use their cash wisely
Ongoing charges: 0.79%
‘The managers of Artemis Income seek undervalued companies that are not only able to generate a high degree of surplus cash, but also use their cash wisely – either to provide an income or re-invest back into the business’, says Darius McDermott, of FundCalibre. ‘The managers can, and do, invest up to 20% of the fund in overseas stocks which provides extra opportunities for additional returns. Its current yield is around 4%.’
Ongoing charges: 0.84%
There are two categories, maximum income now and income growth’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy. ‘For maximum income the experts are Schroders. I am happy with both Schroder income Maximiser and Schroder Asian Income Maximiser, both with yields of 6.8%. You sacrifice some future growth in both capital and income, but some investors would rather a higher income now.’
Ongoing charges: 1.31%
Brian adds: ‘For income growth we are looking for a very clear fund manager track record, as many are not quite good enough. JOHCM UK Equity Income stands out with eight years out of 10 of income growth, and still has a chunky current yield of 4.7%.’
Ongoing charges: 0.84%
‘Matt Hudson, runs Schroder UK Alpha Income following a business cycle philosophy where he researches the stage of the market cycle the economy is in and invests to reflect this’, says Architas’ Adrian Lowcock. ‘This approach requires a significant understanding of economics and the changing dynamics of the UK economy. Hudson combines this knowledge with analysis of companies looking for those businesses which are able to grow earnings and along with that dividends. The fund tends to do well across the market cycle but tends to lag during transition phases.’
Ongoing charges: 0.70%
‘We like the contrarian stance of Murray International manager Bruce Stout, and admirable discipline in sticking to their investment process which still delivers a 4% yield’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘The trust provides attractive and diversified exposure to high quality businesses where dividend security is paramount. It also has the added advantage of emerging market currency exposure which has proven useful during the post Brexit sterling devaluation.’
Ongoing charges: 0.42%
‘City of London has been managed by Job Curtis since 1991, with that 26-year stint a remarkable run in itself’, says This is Money’s Simon Lambert. ‘It has a 50 year history of raising dividends and is a trust in my Isa. Despite his strong stock-picking record, Curtis is a modest manager who has displayed real commitment to his investors over the years (and the board has cut charges for them too). Ongoing charges are just 0.43 per cent.’
Ongoing charges: 0.67%
‘The global economy appears to have picked up over the course of 2016, resulting in return of inflation, albeit from very low levels,’ says Schroders head of multi-manager Marcus Brookes. ‘Historically inflation has led to poor returns for fixed income investors, but this is an area that many rely on for income. We believe the Schroder Strategic Credit fund may be a good fund for income-seeking investors who are worried about the possibility of interest rates rising at some point. Peter Harvey has managed this fund successfully for in excess of 10 years, ensuring that the portfolio keeps its sensitivity to rising rates really low.’
City of London has been managed by Job Curtis since 1991
Ongoing charges: 0.85%
‘Investec UK Alpha is a well-diversified core UK equity fund which invests in companies of all sizes but that will have at least 50% of holdings in FTSE 100 companies’, says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘The manager believes that markets are excessively focused on short term factors – typically focused on the next set of results and not where a company will be in five years’ time. This creates opportunities and allows this fund to take advantage of quality companies which will deliver for many years into the future.’
Ongoing charges: 1.38%
‘For a genuine UK exposure you have to go small cap’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy. ‘I am very excited by the long term potential of the Liontrust UK Smaller Companies fund, with up to 40% in the most dynamic UK tech companies, an area also being prioritised for government backing as the UK reinvents itself.’
Nick Train is a long-term investor with a focus on companies with strong brand and cashflow
Ongoing charges: 0.74%
‘Lindsell Train UK Equity manager Nick Train is a long-term investor with a focus on companies with strong brand and cashflow, which will be around in a few decades time and are able to weather the economic and indeed political cycles,’ says Architas’ Adrian Lowcock. ‘He seeks conservatively financed companies that produce a high and stable return on capital and above average profit margin. He also looks for companies which will benefit from long term trends such as rising demand for goods and services in developing markets and digital technology.’
Ongoing charges: 0.85%
R&M UK Dynamic manager Philip Rodrigs selects only his favourite stocks in a small, nimble portfolio. This fund was chosen by Hargreaves Lansdown’s Mark Dampier. It’s Wealth 150 report says: ‘The manager has the flexibility to invest across the spectrum of small, medium and large companies, which allows him to cherry-pick the best investment opportunities wherever they lie. This unconstrained approach allows him to invest in small businesses with exceptional potential and hold on to them as they grow into the FTSE 100 giants of tomorrow.’
Ongoing charges: 1.20%
‘Value investing has clearly come back in vogue as investors continue to rotate out of “bond proxies” into cheaper more cyclical areas’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘Alex Wright, manager of Fidelity Special Values has a proven track record and the trust trades at a reasonably attractive discount.’
Ongoing charges: 0.10%
The Legal & General UK Index is a FTSE All Share tracker fund that follows the broad UK stock market. It has a 0.1 per cent ongoing charge, so is very cheap and is big enough to hold all the companies in the index. This is a great simple UK tracker fund for passive investing.
Jupiter India is an adventurous fund directly exposed to Indian growth
Ongoing charges: 0.89%
‘Schroder Asian Alpha Plus fund has a flexible mandate with few formal constraints, but will typically have a bias towards larger companies in the Asia region (excluding Japan)’, says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘The manager does a lot of due diligence, puts a heavy emphasis on corporate governance and tries to invest in the right management teams to protect investors. Ideas are sourced from Schroders’ huge regional analyst team, brokers and the manager himself. He then invests in the best 50-70 ideas.’
Ongoing charges: 0.78%
An exciting but volatile fund is Baillie Gifford Global Discovery with 30% in each of healthcare and technology. Loads of potential for long-term investors’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy.
Ongoing charges: 1.56%
Marlborough Nano Cap manager Giles Hargreave is a seasoned stock picker with one of the best-resourced teams for UK smaller company investing. This fund was chosen by Hargreaves Lansdown’s Mark Dampier. Its Wealth 150 report says: ‘This fund is managed in a similar vein to the team’s existing smaller company funds, but this is a smaller and nimbler portfolio where emphasis is placed on the UK’s smallest companies. We view the fund as a superb choice for adventurous investors seeking exposure to this niche part of the market.’
Ongoing charges: 0.95%
‘Fidelity Global Dividend provides global diversification for investors and with an income objective it offers the potential for long term consistent returns’, says Architas’ Adrian Lowcock. ‘The portfolio is entirely constructed through stock selection with a focus on companies offering a growing and sustainable level of income. However, the manager, Dan Roberts, does look for a greater return from capital appreciation which suits investors not necessarily in the need of the income. Roberts looks for companies with simple, easy to understand businesses that have reliable cash flow generation.’
FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott also likes Fidelity Global Dividend. He says: ‘This is a core global income fund that aims to pay a regular and growing income while preserving capital. The fund is unconstrained in terms of where it can invest and may avoid some countries or sectors altogether. Nearly all stocks will be established dividend-payers before they go into the portfolio and will have very low borrowing levels, which means their earnings are less likely to be affected by debt repayments, which adds to their dividend payout stability.’
Ongoing charges: 0.57%
‘We rate the Global Alpha team at Baillie Gifford highly and they have a phenomenal track record’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘Given the current premium on Scottish mortgage we like Monks (70% crossover in underlying holdings) as a cheaper way of accessing a talented team.’
Ongoing charges: 0.77%
Lindsell Train Global Equity is a concentrated fund run by Nick Train and Michael Lindsell and was chosen by Hargreaves Lansdown’s Mark Dampier. Its Wealth 150 report says: ‘The duo adopt a unique investment approach which has led to a long history of out-performance. We believe Nick Train and Michael Lindsell are exceptional stock-pickers and view the fund as an excellent way to access their best ideas.’
Ongoing charges: 0.20%
The iShares Core MSCI World ETF invests around the world with a total expense ratio of just 0.2 per cent. The ETF is weighted by the market size of the world’s major stockmarkets, with the largest chunk at 59 per cent invested in the US. The UK makes up 6.5 per cent of the ETF and is its third biggest holding.
Ongoing charges: 0.13%
Legal & General’s global tracker fund gives access to companies around the world for an ongoing charge of just 0.13 per cent, but excludes the UK. That makes it a good option for global exposure for UK investors who already have plenty of home bias in their portfolios.
There are some attractive opportunities to buy trusts that own high quality European companies where revenues are internationally focused rather than pure plays on the Eurozone
Ongoing charges: 0.96%
‘This fund invests in large companies, with the team preferring those they believe will grow faster than the index’, says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘Meetings with industry experts and company management are of high priority and the team extensively analyse industry drivers, the company and the management from data across many years. A large exposure to specific themes is avoided, and companies with strong cash generation and growing profits are favoured. Through patience in the process and conviction in their decisions, their approach has reaped rewards.’
Ongoing charges: 1.16%
‘Europe continues to be plagued by negative political headlines and concerns over populist governments’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘We think much of this is overdone and would note some attractive opportunities to buy trusts that own high quality European companies where revenues are internationally focused rather than pure plays on the Eurozone. Jupiter European Opportunities has a strong track record and trades at a reasonable discount.’
Ongoing charges: 1.01%
Schroder Small Cap Discovery is managed by Matthew Dobbs, an experienced investor in Asian and emerging markets and was chosen by Mark Dampier, of Hargreaves Lansdown.
Its Wealth 150 report says: ‘This adventurous fund aims to capitalise on the increasing number of higher-risk smaller company opportunities exposed to faster-growing regions of the world. In our view it represents a unique proposition, as it offers something different to the majority of Asian and emerging markets funds which tend to have a greater focus on larger companies. Overall, we view the combined exposure to some of the world’s most innovative smaller companies with the long-term growth potential of Asian and emerging markets as an exciting prospect.’
Ongoing charges: 1.22%
‘Asia is where the action is for decades to come’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy. ‘Their middle class will dwarf that of the West in decades to come. In many instances debt is relatively low, and populations young. In particular their markets are currently good value (at worst) and they have the political stability which the West lacks (a turnaround not yet reflected in valuation differences, far from it). The Old Mutual Asia Pacific has excellent consistency over most periods in the last 10 years, and is still relatively small (under £200m) which gives it greater flexibility than larger peer groups.’
US mid caps should benefit from a combination of tax cuts and fiscal stimulus more so than US large caps
Ongoing charges: 0.92%
‘Schroder US Mid Cap manager Jenny Jones invests in companies with good growth potential which are attractively priced’, says Architas’ Adrian Lowcock. ‘She focuses on stock value analysis and has a cautious temperament which means she tends to avoid investing in volatile markets. Mid caps should benefit from a combination of tax cuts and fiscal stimulus more so than US large caps.’
Ongoing charges: 1.20%
‘Many investors have been concerned about China’s ability to maintain its growth, which had led to them reducing their exposure to this area,’ says Schroders head of multi-manager Marcus Brookes. ‘While we share some of these worries longer-term, for now we feel that it might be prudent to add back to positions. Our chosen fund for this purpose is the Jonathan Pines-managed Hermes Asia ex Japan Equity fund. We like this fund as the manager has a strong value-biased philosophy, something that we feel could lead the market for a while yet. Furthermore, the fund has already enjoyed some success but careful capacity management means we remain hopeful that it will not get too big, allowing it to continue its impressive performance.’
‘Asia is where the action is for decades to come’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy
Ongoing charges: 0.93%
‘The team running Lazard Emerging Markets search for companies that are viewed as less-than-ordinary opportunities but have the potential to be extraordinary investments’, says says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘In other words they are looking for the global brands of the future. The fund benefits from a well-resourced emerging market team based in New York. I like their strong value discipline, the way they diversify risk on a country and sector basis, and also how they pay close attention to political situations.’
Ongoing charges: 0.84%
‘Emerging markets have the same potential as with Asia’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy. ‘There are two approaches here. First Baillie Gifford Emerging Market Leading Companies. Superb consistency over all periods in the last 10 years. Second Newton Emerging Market Income. It was launched with a great story in 2012 but has really struggled to make ground. This comes into my category of hidden value.’
Total expense ratio: 1.31%
‘Emerging markets have continued to outperform this year as investors continue to seek higher growth’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘Much of the sector continues to trade at large discounts. Templeton has been reinvigorated since the appointment of Carlos Hardenberg in September 2015 and is one of the best performing emerging markets trusts over the past year and continues to trade at an attractive discount.’ Mark Dampier, of Hargreaves Lansdown, also likes Templeton Emerging Markets and you can watch This is Money’s video interview with manager Carlos Hardenberg on the Investing Show.
Ongoing charges: 0.26%
BlackRock’s Emerging Markets Equity Tracker is a fund that gives a passive approach to emerging markets investing with ongoing charges of just 0.24 per cent. It has investments around the world, with the biggest chunk in Asia, at 40 per cent, and South and Central America, at 16 per cent. The single biggest country is Taiwan at 14 per cent and emerging Europe also features.
Ongoing charges: 1.00%
‘Despite some resurgence in 2016, emerging markets have underperformed developed markets over recent years, and it is an area we had been avoiding,’ explains Schroders head of multi-manager Marcus Brookes. ‘We have chosen to dip our toes back in the water as we think the region is continuing to become more attractive. One of the funds we like in this area is the Artemis offering, managed by Peter Saacke and Raheel Altaf, using the firm’s “SmartGARP” approach. The fund is not too big and cumbersome, which gives it added flexibility to invest across the emerging markets spectrum, and it has a strong team behind it. We think it is a good option for playing the improvement in emerging market fundamentals.’
Ongoing charges: 1.24%
‘Shin Nippon means ‘new Japan’ and this trust focuses on emerging or disrupted sectors, where the manager sees innovative growth opportunities, says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon Trust invests in smaller and medium sized companies and, in the last 10 years, the trust has been geared every year in a range between 9% and 18%, which can increase the risk further. If you want the same team but a slightly less risky fund, they have an opened-ended one called Baillie Gifford Japanese which I also like.’
Ongoing charges: 0.83%
‘Managers Richard Bullas and Paul Spencer run a three pronged approach to investing in smaller companies’, says Architas’ Adrian Lowcock. ‘The core Franklin UK Smaller Companies portfolio is invested in high quality growth companies. This is then complemented with underappreciated and undervalued names where the market hasn’t recognised their growth potential. The final prong is in recovery stocks which tend to be more cyclical in nature.’
Ongoing charges: 1.09%
Jupiter India is an adventurous fund directly exposed to Indian growth and was picked by Hargreaves Lansdown’s Mark Dampier. It’s Wealth 150 report says: ‘Avinash Vazirani has a wealth of experience of investing in India, having managed equities in the region for two decades. He has built an excellent long-term track record and we believe a bias towards small and medium-sized companies has added value over time. This positioning also differentiates the fund from many of its peers which tend to be concentrated in some of India’s largest companies, although small and medium-sized companies can be more volatile than their larger counterparts.’
Ongoing charges: 1.81%
‘Pershing Square is a fund with a somewhat chequered history given the well-publicised troubles with their holding in Valeant Pharmaceuticals, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘That said, manager Bill Ackman has not become a bad manager overnight and investors comfortable with his concentrated exposure and activist approach, might see the current discount as a buying opportunity. One for the brave but he has made significant profits in the past.’
Investors should be aware this is a US-focussed hedge fund, with a Guernsey address and with shares trading in US dollars. It is covered by the AIC here, has a listing on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange and says it plans to apply for a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The Brexit wobble is a reminder that over short periods the fund dealing might be suspended for sensible reasons
Ongoing charges: 1.45%
‘F&C Real Estate Securities invests in both residential and commercial real estate companies, listed in the UK and Europe’, says FundCalibre’s Darius McDermott. ‘F&C has one of the best resourced and most experienced property teams in the business and also runs the TR Property Investment Trust, which I also rate highly. The unique way the managers use the full range of tools available to them, including by shorting unfavoured stocks, enables them to express a wider range of views and better manage risk. This is a big positive given the small size of their investment universe.’
Ongoing charges: 0.96%
‘The Brexit wobble is a reminder that over short periods the fund dealing might be suspended for sensible reasons – this is a given, and always was’, says Fund Expert’s Brian Dennehy. ‘Kames Property Income continues to have attractions in a low interest rate environment, with a yield of 4.4%. Its greatest emphasis is outside London and the South East, where decent value remains.’
Ongoing charges: 0.75%
‘This is a core property fund and investors benefit from access to Legal & General’s expertise’, says Architas’ Adrian Lowcock. ‘Legal & General UK Property only invests in quality assets with strong tenant covenants and leases in areas with strong underlying economies. The fund’s investment process considers both the economic outlook and property selection. The manager, Matt Jarvis, may make use of property derivatives, property securities and cash to manage liquidity within the fund.’
Ongoing charges: 0.76%
‘TR Property trust offers a diversified exposure to UK REITS at an attractive discount with a reasonable yield’, says Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management’s Patrick Thomas. ‘Post-Brexit there is still real value with some of their holdings themselves trading at substantial discounts.’
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