15 top investment tips for your Isa

They've come up with some solid suggestions, whatever you're looking for – income, property or even emerging markets.


1. Unicorn UK Income fund

Recommended by Sheridan Admans at The Share Centre

"This fund is very much run on a conviction-based approach, thereby demonstrating the manager, John McClure's, belief in those companies selected. The investment philosophy is based around being conservative with a low-risk approach. For companies to be chosen they must meet a number of key criteria, such as predictable revenues and cash flows, strong balance sheets, low debt, significant market share and a competitive advantage.

"The portfolio is focussed on themes such as exporters and industry consolidation, but always with the premise that they pay a dividend.

"[As some holdings are smaller companies], it is highly likely that many holdings will be unfamiliar to investors. However, McClure consistently demonstrates a proven ability to deliver strong returns."

2. Rathbone Global Opportunities

Recommended by Darius McDermott at Chelsea Financial Services

"This fund invests in developed market equities, which are my favoured area for 2014 (especially for defensive investors). We've had two good years in equities and while I think 2014 should also be good (although not with such high returns), the biggest financial experiment in our lifetime (quantitative easing) could start to unwind and no-one knows how it will play out. So I think some balance is necessary (using a defensive fund)."

3. BlackRock Continental European Income fund

Recommended by Sheridan Admans at The Share Centre

"Managed by Andreas Zoellinger, this fund offers investors an alternative equity income solution from a region that has less of a reliance on a small number of large companies like the UK does.

Around 60% of the portfolio is invested in above average dividend yield paying companies where the potential for a dividend increase is less likely. The remaining 40% is invested in companies that have a slightly lower level than average but that have the potential to grow the dividend over time.

Overall, the fund is reasonably concentrated with the number of underlying holdings being between 40 and 70 stocks, spread across large and small companies, albeit with a medium to large-cap bias."

4. Henderson UK Property

Recommended by Darius McDermott at Chelsea Financial Services

"This fund has a yield of more than 4%, which is better than cash and many bond funds, so it provides a possible alternative income stream. The sector also has diversification benefits as it has a low correlation to equity markets. While questions are being raised about a London property bubble, property is quite cheap elsewhere in the country and as the economic recovery spreads and strengthens across the UK, the asset class should benefit."
5. Schroder QEP Global Quant Core Equity

Recommended by Justin Modray of Candid Financial Advice

"Actively managed global stockmarket funds often underperform the MSCI Index, so there is a strong argument for using a tracker fund. This Schroders fund uses tracking techniques with low charges but adds some analysis to try to outperform, which it has generally managed to do to date."

6. Marlborough Special Situations

Recommended by Justin Modray of Candid Financial Advice

"If you're comfortable taking a fairly high risk approach, this Marlborough fund provides exposure to smaller companies with high growth potential via a very experienced fund manager – Giles Hargreave – who has a good stockpicking track record."

7. Threadneedle UK Equity Alpha Income

Recommended by Rob Morgan at Charles Stanley

"The UK Equity Income sector is very much in the spotlight following Neil Woodford's departure from Invesco Perpetual. Top-quality fund managers managing small, nimble funds are a rarity but this Threadneedle fund managed by Leigh Harrison and Richard Colwell fits the bill."

8. Lazard Emerging Markets

Recommended by Rob Morgan at Charles Stanley

"Emerging markets seem to have fallen off investors' radars but valuations have fallen back and I believe they could enjoy a resurgence of interest in the next year or so. James Donald, the fund manager of Lazard Emerging Markets, has a superb track record in this space."

9. First State China Growth

Recommended by Killik & Co

"This fund aims for long-term capital appreciation from a portfolio of companies with either assets in, or revenues derived from, China. Martin Lau is the lead portfolio manager. His team aims to identify sensibly priced, high-quality companies that can deliver sustainable long-term profit growth. The planned reforms to be brought in by the Chinese government should help the Chinese economy move from one with a strong manufacturing base and export advantages to one with a greater reliance on domestic consumption and services.

"As a result, Chinese equities, and companies with an exposure to China, could perform well this year. This fund is an attractive way of accessing this trend without being too exposed to economic cyclicality."
10. The Morant Wright Japan Fund

Recommended by Killik & Co

"This fund aims to generate absolute returns by investing in a diversified long-only portfolio of around 60 to 70 equities listed on the Japanese Stock Exchange. The team looks for companies with strong financial positions and sound business franchises. We believe there are a number of strong catalysts for the Japanese equity market. Initial signs of success from Prime Minister Abe's first two 'arrows' of growth strategy (fiscal and monetary stimulus) could be followed in 2014 by the implementation of the 'third arrow', which consists of broad reforms to create self-sustaining growth."

Investment trusts

11. BlackRock World Mining Trust

Recommended by Rob Morgan at Charles Stanley

"This fund is strangely an income story. Mining firms are starting to get their act together, reining in unprofitable expansions and focusing on returning cash to shareholders. It's been a long time coming but the sector could enjoy improving sentiment as investor perception changes."

12. Utilico Emerging Markets Investment Trust

Recommended by Justin Modray of Candid Financial Advice

"Emerging markets remain volatile but the long-term prospects are still bright. I like this investment trust because it aims to reduce emerging market volatility by primarily investing in utility and infrastructure companies that generate high positive cash flows."

13. Personal Assets

Recommended by Rob Morgan at Charles Stanley

"Managed by Sebastian Lyon of Troy Asset Management, this is a stalwart for the core of almost any portfolio, and represents a diverse portfolio in its own right: a combination of global equities, index-linked government bonds and some physical gold. This conservative strategy is unlikely to set pulses racing but is a classic buy-and-forget-about investment."

14. Ruffer Investment Company

Recommended by Justin Modray of Candid Financial Advice

"The managers - Hamish Baillie and Steve Russell – invest in a wide variety of different investment types [such as gold, gilts, US equities] to try to deliver positive returns, even during periods of difficult markets. In these uncertain times, funds like this make a lot of sense."

15. RIT Capital

Recommended by Rob Morgan at Charles Stanley

"This is another diverse, core holding. It is closely associated with the Rothschild family and invests in global equities, listed and unlisted funds and, perhaps most interestingly, private equity. Performance over the long term has been excellent. Although it has tailed off a bit in recent years, I still think it's a worthy addition to a portfolio."

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