‘Multi-asset’ is a little jargon-y, but in practice it means holding lots of different types of investment within one fund. So you might have a little bit of bonds, a few UK shares, a few emerging market shares, a splash of property and so on. It is, if you like, a ready-meal, rather than preparing all the ingredients yourself.
The best thing is that instead of you having to decide whether now is the right time to be invested in this or that company, or this or that country, someone does that for you.
There are different types of multi-asset fund, but many will come with a handy indication of the type of investors that should consider them. For example, they might be a ‘cautious’ investor. This would only have a small amount in the stock market, with the remainder in less volatile investments such as government bonds. More ‘adventurous’ or ‘aggressive’ options may have a higher weighting in the stock market. You can also get options that pay an income.
Once you are up and running with a multi-asset fund, you don’t need to do very much. You can just keep topping up and ignore it.
We have partnered with independent fund research house Square Mile and asked them to come up with 4 investment houses which all offer decent, low-cost ‘multi-asset’ funds.
Worldwide Share Funds
“Looking for future leaders”
This fund looks to invest in a collection of smaller sized firms from across the globe which it thinks will go up in value over time. The fund manager is trying to pick quality, growing companies that have the ability, or potential, to be future leaders in their fields. Ultimately, Square Mile would expect the fund’s bias for high quality and growing firms to add value for investors over the long-term and help minimise losses when investor sentiment turns sour; though there will undoubtedly be times when it struggles for example, when its investment style falls out of favour, and bigger companies have their day in the sun.
“Sustainable global growth”
The investment strategy seeks to generate long-term growth through a portfolio of global shares. The team search the globe looking to invest in only the highest quality companies with capable management teams and strong financial characteristics. Furthermore, the company itself has a long-held belief in the responsible stewardship of capital. In practice, this means that the integrity of those running the companies that they invest in must be of the highest order. An attractive choice for the long-term investor who is seeking a global portfolio of quality businesses that are ideally positioned to contribute to, and benefit from, sustainable global development.
British Share Funds
This fund is managed using a very well-considered and defined investment process that steers the managers towards steady businesses that are gradually growing and generating high levels of cash. The preference is for companies that have a clear competitive advantage. The team is fully prepared to sell those companies that lose their advantage or fail to translate it into superior returns.
Whilst this is not designed as an income paying strategy per se, the companies within the portfolio tend to generate a high level of dividend growth over time as shareholders participate in the companies' success. It is important to note that the fund tends to avoid companies in certain parts of the market, for example those associated with mining, and utilities. Therefore, the fund could underperform the broader FTSE All Share index if these types of companies perform well.
“Blue chip Brits”
The bulk of this fund tends to be invested in well run blue chip UK companies that have strong franchises, barriers that deter potential competitors and are profitable. These types of companies should prove reliable and attractive holdings for investors over the longer term.
It is run by Chris Kinder, who is a conviction led manager who forms his investment views with a deep level of research. He’s not afraid to go against the herd. Mr Kinder is a thoughtful and frank person and is plainly driven to continue the success of this strategy.
Given this fund's clear investment philosophy and process, the support network behind Mr Kinder, his investment experience and passion to succeed, Square Mile consider this an excellent strategy to gain exposure to the larger end of the UK market
With Simon Moon and Fraser Mackersie at the helm, this fund is run by a pair of managers who appear to have formed a strong working relationship with an acute focus on the needs of their investors. Their process has been designed to highlight higher quality companies that are committed to paying and delivering sustainable dividends.
The fund has a natural bias to small and medium sized companies and as a result it can and does look very different from a large number of competitor strategies - many of which invest in large, blue chip companies, especially from an income perspective. This could result in a more volatile return profile, particularly when viewed against the FTSE All Share, for example.
Overall, Square Mile feel this strategy should appeal to investors who are keen to diversify their UK equity income streams away from the market's more significant distributors, but are prepared to accept some additional volatility over shorter time frames.
“A smoother path”
Square Mile believe this fund may have some appeal for the more risk averse investor.
This fund has two core chunks – one made up of shares and one made up of bonds. These are blended and balanced to produce the final outcome. The bond part of the fund invests in the debt of reliable businesses which have sensible longer-term strategies and where the manager feels comfortable holding each issue until its maturity. On the shares side, the emphasis is on higher quality dividend paying companies.
“Long-term tech taste”
The Polar Capital Global Technology fund is managed by experienced investors who are skilled in identifying changing industry trends and the companies that are poised to benefit as a result. Square Mile believe this is an attractive fund for long term investors who are looking for exposure to rapidly growing technology companies. The managers have a long investment horizon and this is reflected in the fund’s objective which is to outperform the Dow Jones World Technology index over a period of five to seven years. This fund should only considered by investors who are prepared to hold this strategy for a least this timeframe.
The fund has a performance fee in addition to the annual management charge, the managers receive a 10% share of any performance that is ahead of the fund's benchmark. In principle, Square Mile are not against such fees since they arguably greater align the managers interests with those of the fund's investors. This will increase costs for investors, but Square Mile think it is a price worth paying for a strategy such as this.
Bonds or Fixed Income
“Cautious pick ‘n’ mix”
This is a solid bond fund that can invest across a range of fixed income securities, run by an experienced team of investors. The fund is very much managed with a defensive mindset and therefore chunky losses and turbulence should be limited. Historically this has indeed been the case, and other than some minor volatility, the fund’s return profile has been remarkably smooth.
Square Mile believe this fund is likely to be suitable for investors who wish to gain exposure to fixed income markets in a risk-controlled manner, with a strong focus on capital protection.
The managers of this fund are experienced investors who work very well as a team and have proven themselves adept at managing macroeconomic, market and security specific risks over a range of market conditions.
The strategy has a specific focus on income, with the managers seeking to achieve a level of income which is high but, at the same time, consistent with the preservation of investors' capital.
The fund tends to have a bias to corporate bonds in order to meet its income objective and is therefore likely to perform strongly when these markets are rising. However, this can be at the expense of more variable performance in falling markets. Overall, Square Mile believe this fund may be suitable for investors seeking a high but sustainable level of income, with a focus on capital preservation over the course of a market cycle, but who are prepared to accept some degree of volatility, particularly over the shorter time frames.
Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.