How they have performed so far

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The Independent Online
M&S has been managing two unit trusts (a pool of savers' money invested in the stock markets) for eight years. Its UK Selection Portfolio ranks 20th of 104 funds in the same industry category over one year, 17th of 93 over three years and 40th of 83 over five years.

Its Investment Portfolio has fared less well in the relevant international sector, ranking fifth of 32 over a year, 10th of 23 over three years and 12th of 16 over five. M&S charges 5 per cent of investment when you buy and a 1.5 per cent annual fee.

The investment vehicle behind the Virgin Pep is the Norwich Union FT All Share "tracker fund'' which monitors the performance of all 900 companies in the index.

Over five years, it has turned pounds 100 into pounds 155.39. Gartmore, the top performing fund manager for tracker funds over five years, managed to produce pounds 167.31 from pounds 100.

Virgin's promise to investors is no commission or initial charges. By comparison, Gartmore levies no initial charge, a 1.5 per cent annual management and no exit charge.

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