Other Funds: Specialist
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.
This sector houses a highly diverse set of portfolios including, among many others, funds that invest in commodities such as gold and others that focus on healthcare and financials. Most constituents tend to be on the higher end of the risk spectrum.
47. AXA FRAMLINGTON HEALTH - Five-year return: 152%
This portfolio aims to deliver capital growth to its investors by investing in healthcare, biotechnology and medical services globally. Backed by Haynes and managed by Mark Hargraves, who took over last year, the portfolio has an impressive track record.
48. SCHRODER SMALL CAP DISCOVERY - Up 32% since March 2012 launch
One of Haynes and Dampier's top picks, it is co-managed by Matthew Dobbs. It invests in smaller firms exposed to the fastest- growing world economies. "It offers something different to most Asian and emerging markets funds," says Dampier.
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).
Generic, loosely-defined term for markets in a newly industrialised or Third World country that is in the process of moving from a closed economy to an open market economy while building accountability within the system. The World Bank recognises 28 countries as emerging markets, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, India, Israel, Morocco, Russia and Venezuela. Because these countries carry additional political, economic and currency risks, investors in emerging markets should accept volatile returns. There is potential to make large profit at the risk of large losses.
A term applied to raw materials (gold, oil) and foodstuffs (wheat, pork bellies) traded on exchanges throughout the world. Since no one really wants to transport all those heavy materials, what is actually traded are commodities futures contracts or options. These are agreements to buy or sell at an agreed price on a specific date. Because commodity prices are volatile, investing in futures is certainly not for the casual investor.