Best and worst: Managed pension funds

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IDEAL Insurance has been selling life-insurance-linked investment products for years but only started marketing personal pensions in 1989 and its managed pension fund remains small, with pounds 600,000 under management.

Clive Lee, a director, said the fund's size hampered its ability to buy equities exactly when it wanted, which affects performance. At present 76 per cent of the fund is in shares, mainly in UK companies. Mr Lee said he did not believe the fund's performance over 12 months should be a cause for concern, arguing that it was a short period in the life of a pension policy.

New funds do not have to operate at a handicap, however, as shown by the 18- month-old pension funds set up by J Rothschild Assurance. People who buy JRA policies have a choice of funds managed by Scottish Amicable, M&G or Rothschild's St James investment management arm.

Absence from the top five in the performance tables over a year does not necessarily mean policy-holders retire poor. Standard's fund, worth nearly pounds 1.9bn, is showing a profit of 22.4 per cent over a year, below the sector average of 24.6. But over 10 years it has made a profit of 268.5 per cent, against a sector average of 245.1.

------------------------------------------------------------------ The best % 1 J Rothschild St James Managed 53.9 2 Skandia Morgan Grenfell 42.3 3 Aegon Perpetual Managed 41.6 4 Century NEL Fidelity Managed 41.0 5 Skandia Fidelity Managed 40.6 The worst 223 Irish Life Secure Managed 9.0 224 Aetna Life Squirrel 7.6 225 Shield Framlington Managed 7.1 226 Lifetime Managed Security 6.8 227 Ideal Insurance Managed 6.0 ------------------------------------------------------------------ The chart shows the percentage increase in the value of the fund over 12 months to 1 July, offer to offer. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Source: Hardwick Stafford Wright ------------------------------------------------------------------