When you decide to go to market, let a manager take you by the hand

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The Independent Online

Investing in individual shares is a nerve-racking business. Many investors don't have the expertise required to make a successful job of it, relying largely on guesswork in deciding when to buy or sell. Unless you've got the time to study the market at regular intervals, you won't be able to react as quickly as you need to if you are going to be successful.

Investing in individual shares is a nerve-racking business. Many investors don't have the expertise required to make a successful job of it, relying largely on guesswork in deciding when to buy or sell. Unless you've got the time to study the market at regular intervals, you won't be able to react as quickly as you need to if you are going to be successful.

So for novice investors, as well as those who prefer an expert making their investment decisions for them, managed funds are a good choice. Risk is reduced because there is a broader range of stocks in the fund than an individual could possibly invest in if they bought all the shares themselves.

There is also less volatility: with a good spread of funds in your portfolio - say, a UK income fund, a European fund and a sector fund, such as technology - if one market does badly, you will benefit from the investment spread so your portfolio should weather the storm. However, if you invest directly in stocks and shares, the vast majority of them will be UK stocks. So if the UK market takes a dive, your portfolio will really suffer.

The advantage of handing over your money to an experienced manager is clear. Fund managers spend most of their time watching share prices, researching companies and meeting the management team behind them so they will understand the market better than you and know the best time to buy and sell.

On this page we look at the cult of the star fund manager. This has grown as more of us have become interested in investing and increasingly demand a name or face we can identify. On the opposite page we look at the growing popularity of open ended investment companies (Oeics); they may have been with us for less than four years but already they are significantly encroaching upon the unit trust market.

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