2013 has been the year of smaller companies

Firms which avoided global woes provided the best returns

Investors who backed smaller firms this year have been proved astute for the second year running. Four of the five strongest investment fund sectors had a small cap focus.

The Japanese Smaller Companies sector was the most profitable, returning 36 per cent over the year. Japan was boosted by Abenomics, the term coined to describe the policies being pushed through by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It consists of “three arrows” – named after the Japanese legend that individual arrows can break, but three held together are very strong. The policies he’s backing are bold monetary relaxation, flexible fiscal stimulus, and reviving the private sector.

But there is a wider reason driving smaller company funds to outperform those backing large firms, believes Tom Purdie from FundExpert.co.uk.

“There is a vast selection of stocks for fund managers to choose from,” he said. “This means a large range of possibilities, and significant opportunities to build a highly diversified portfolio. Larger, often global, businesses are perpetually in thrall to the latest central bank action.”

He also pointed out that unlike larger companies, smaller companies are not overwhelmed by broader macro trends. Being in niche markets allows them to maintain good performance regardless of what is happening in the wider economy.

On the other side of the coin, the worst-performing sector of the year was Global Emerging Markets, mainly on the back of taper fears in the US, which came to fruition in the middle of last week.

“The witching hour was 22 May, when Ben Bernanke mooted the gradual withdrawal of money printing,” recalled Mr Purdie. “Before that date the FTSE Emerging index was already falling. But from 22 May the slide accelerated.”

However, he said that there are still opportunities in emerging markets over the long term. “Emerging markets continue to grow 4 per cent faster than developed markets, and many have much more youthful demographics,” he said. That’s crucial as young populations drive growth.

But he warned that investors should expect more turbulence in emerging market equities in 2014 especially as the market focuses on the arrival of US tapering.

“For those wanting to exploit the long-term opportunity of emerging markets, drip-feeding will deal with the problem of market turbulence, allowing you to limit short-term stress while beingpositioned for long-term potential.”

The best-performing individual fund of the year was AXA Framlington Biotech. “It’s interesting to see a tech-focused fund in the top 10 in a year which saw the Twitter IPO and Bitcoin fluctuating valuations hit the headlines,” Mr Purdie said.

Meanwhile, 2013 proved to be another sorry year for gold investors. Gold funds propped up the performance tables, carrying on their poor showing from 2012. However, 2013 was more severe for gold. The worst losses of 2012 were around 30 per cent. In 2013 the worst gold fund slumped more than 60 per cent.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

    Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

    £55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

    £16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

    Day In a Page

    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
    Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

    They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

    A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
    David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

    Hanging with the Hoff

    Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
    Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

    Hipsters of Arabia

    Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
    The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

    The cult of Roger Federer

    What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
    Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

    Malaysian munchies

    With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
    10 best festival beauty

    Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

    Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

    A Different League

    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

    Steve Bunce on Boxing

    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf