ISAsMar 4 2019

Best-performing Isa funds revealed

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Best-performing Isa funds revealed

The best-performing Isa fund over the last 20 years was the Marlborough Special Situations fund, according to analysis by Willis Owen.

Using FE Analytics data based on total returns from April 6, 1999 to February 14, 2019, the online investment service provider calculated the Marlborough Special Situations fund has delivered a tax-free return of 2,448 per cent.

The best-performing sector was found to be China/Greater China, which delivered a return of 771.8 per cent over the past two decades, according to FE Analytics data for the same period.

Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen, said the best-performing funds and sectors over the past 20 years provided some interesting insights for investors.

He said: "The fact China leads the best performing sector and is well represented in the list of top 10 funds reflects the impressive growth of the country as well as emerging markets and Asia over the past 20 years.

"However, the existence of several UK smaller company funds in the list isn't a surprise to us, we have often believed there have been some exceptional fund managers investing in UK smaller companies and plenty of opportunity for them to outperform.

"Perhaps what is more surprising is that the US didn't feature higher up in the lists.

"Over the past decade or more the US has been a difficult market for active fund managers to outperform as it has been very open and efficient making it hard for them to get a competitive edge."

Ten best-performing Isa funds



Percentage Return


Marlborough Special Situations




Stewart Investors Asia Pacific




Artemis UK Smaller Companies




Threadneedle European Smaller Companies




Barings Hong Kong China




BlackRock UK Smaller Companies




Janus Henderson China Opportunities




The MI Discretionary Unit




Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets




Baillie Gifford Emerging Markets Growth




FE Analytics, HMRC, based on total return from 6 April 1999 to 14th February, total return

Mr Lowcock said the UK, Japan and emerging markets were three attractive themes for investors to consider in the current Isa season because they are currently cheap and have the potential to deliver strong performance going forward.

Funds that he would recommend as investments in these themes include the Merian UK Mid Cap, Man GLG Japan Core Alpha and Lazard Emerging Markets funds.

Ten best-performing Sectors

Investment Association Sector


Percentage Return


China/Greater China




European Smaller Companies TR in GB




UK Smaller Companies




Asia Pacific Excluding Japan




North American Smaller Companies




Global Emerging Markets




Asia Pacific Including Japan




Global Emerging Markets Bond




Japanese Smaller Companies








FE Analytics, HMRC, based on total return from 6 April 1999 to 14th February, total return

But Jason Hollands, managing director of Tilney Investment Management Services, said all the data revealed was that over 20 years Asia, emerging markets and smaller companies delivered the best returns.

Over other time periods, Mr Hollands noted that won't have been the case.

He said: "What matters when selecting a fund is the future outlook and whether you have conviction in the management team now in place.

"Most funds will have experienced management changes over 20-year time periods and the profile of a fund can also evolve, for example due to growth in size, which may impact the ability to replicate previous successes."