Personal Equity Plans: In need of a buzz?

MOST investors understand the idea behind stock market funds that channel their holdings into a single geographical region, such as Europe or Latin America, or even a single country, such as Japan.

But the notion of theme-based investments is less popular. These funds choose stocks on the grounds that a particular industrial sector will benefit from a powerful global trend - an ageing population, technological developments or privatisation, for instance. Recent strong-performing thematic funds have been based on technology, financial services and utilities.

If you are looking for a way to bring a little excitement into an already substantial portfolio then they could provide the buzz. But be warned - these funds are narrow-focused, specialist and volatile investments.

Take the clutch of technology funds now clustered at the top of the one-year performance tables. Aberdeen Prolific Technology grew by more than 200 per cent over the five years to 1 January 1999. Reuters Hindsight says that in the 12 months before that date it increased in value by 37 per cent and was ranked fifth in the International Growth sector, closely followed by Henderson's Technology fund in sixth place.

Both were beaten by Scottish Equitable's technology fund, which put on 39 per cent and ranked third, while SocGen's new Technology launch has also performed strongly in its first few months.

Paul Kleiser, who manages the Scottish Equitable fund, agrees that technology funds are inherently volatile. "They tend to be either right at the top or right at the bottom of the sector," he says but adds that if you can live with that the outlook is good in the long term.

The telecoms industry's success has just spawned a new launch from Johnson Fry - the first fund manager to introduce a fund focusing on telecoms stocks around the world. The joint manager, Andrew Whalley, also runs JF's specialist utilities fund; he considers that although telecoms share prices have already seen considerable growth, it remains a key growth area.

But the tables can turn, even on chart-toppers. Framlington's Healthcare fund, which invests in small healthcare and biotechnology stocks with a bias to the US, has grown by 581 per cent over the last 10 years but lost almost 13 per cent in the 12 months to the end of 1999.

Another area to attract the attention of fund managers looking for global potential is financial services. The sector has had some pretty rocky periods over the last 12 months as world markets have been through the mill, but managers still point to strong underlying fundamentals.

One important factor is the west's ageing population which, coupled with a decline in state support, is pushing us all towards pensions, insurance and investments to see us through old age. Spotting trends in merger activity and new technology is also important.

Philip Gibbs, at Jupiter Financial Opportunities, views Ireland as one of the fastest-growing areas; Bank of Ireland is among his largest holdings.

The Jupiter fund has performed impressively over the last 12 months, with growth of over 33 per cent. It ranks 10th in the international growth sector. But some rivals have fared less well: S&P Financial Securities lost investors' money over the 12 month period; Edinburgh Financial just about broke even, while Framlington Financial gained less than 10 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing