Bonds: Strategic Bonds
According to trade body, the Investment Association, collectively we now have £899 billion invested in funds - pooled investment schemes sometimes referred to as unit trusts or OEICs.
But investing can be a tricky business, given the plethora of products on offer. In addition, investing is also a long-term business and there will be ups and downs, so patience is key. While there is no shortage of funds to choose from, finding fund managers who can deliver consistently is another matter.
Rob Gleeson, head of FE Research, a fund analyst, explains: "Generally, the most consistent managers are the ones with a strong core strategy. While they will have ups and downs across the business cycle, over multiple cycles they offer relatively stable returns."
To give you an idea of where you might want to squirrel away some cash, we've picked out 50 fund choices, as recommended by some of the UK's top fund-pickers. Our panel includes: Darius McDermott, managing director of brokers Chelsea Financial Services; Mark Dampier, head of research at Hargreaves Lansdown; Gavin Haynes, managing director of Whitechurch Securities; and Adrian Lowcock, head of investing at Axa Wealth.
Bonds, sometimes referred to as fixed-income investments, are 'IOUs' issued by governments or firms looking to raise cash. Investors lend their cash for a set period of time and, in return, the issuer pays interest. When the bond matures, the capital should be returned in full. Experts recommend them to create a balanced and diversified portfolio.
Widely seen today as the most popular route into the fixed-income market Strategic Bonds, have essentially a 'go-anywhere' remit that allows them to take the best of what's on offer in the sector. Managers can take a flexible global approach and should be positioned to move quickly when rate rises are on the horizon.
38. JUPITER STRATEGIC BOND - Five-year return: 43%
A popular choice among our experts, this fund offers a flexible approach to invest across different areas of global bond markets. "Fund manager Ariel Bezalel has built up an excellent track record," says Haynes.
39. FIDELITY STRATEGIC BOND - Five-year return: 33%
Backed by Haynes and McDermott, this fund is managed by Ian Spreadbury. "He has the experience to navigate the complex waters of the fixed-interest market and he has been able to generate returns and an income stream, with low volatility by selecting the right asset allocations for the majority of the time," says McDermott.
40. ARTEMIS STRATEGIC BOND - Five-year return: 39%
Dampier highlights that the team, led by James Foster, has the freedom and flexibility to exploit opportunities across the bond spectrum. Dampier feels it could appeal to investors seeking a combination of capital growth and income from the fixed-income market, although he cautions that it tends to carry higher risk than average.
Open-ended investment companies are hybrid investment funds that have some of the features of an investment trust and some of a unit trust. Like an investment trust, an Oeic issues shares but, unlike an investment trust which has a fixed number of shares in issue, like a unit trust, the fund manager of an Oeic can create and redeem (buy back and cancel) shares subject to demand, so new shares are created for investors who want to buy and the Oeic buys back shares from investors who want to sell. Also, Oeic pricing is easier to understand than unit trusts as Oeics only have one price to buy or sell (unit trusts have one price to buy the unit and another lower price when selling it back to the fund).
An individual employed by an institution to manage an investment fund (unit trust, investment trust, pension fund or hedge fund) to meet pre-determined objectives (usually to generate capital growth or maximise income) in prescribed geographic areas or investment sectors (such as UK smaller companies, technology or commodities). The manager also carries the responsibility for general fund supervision, as well as monitoring the daily trading activity and also developing investment strategies to manage the risk profile of the fund.