Interactive Investor

Top 10 most-popular investment trusts: April 2021

4th May 2021 17:26

Kyle Caldwell from interactive investor


Share on

There are two new entries in our top 10 table, which is based on the number of buys in April. 

The start of the new tax year has led some ‘early bird’ ISA investors to increase exposure to investment trusts that invest globally, resulting in Smithson Investment Trust (LSE:SSON) and Alliance Trust (LSE:ATST) entering our top 10 table.

Our list, based on the number of buys in April among customers of interactive investor, is now comprised of five trusts that invest globally.

Three sit in the Association of Investment Companies’ (AIC) Global sector: Scottish Mortgage (LSE: SMT), Monks (LSE:MNKS) and Alliance Trust.

Scottish Mortgage remains the most popular trust, a position that it has consistently occupied since June 2019. Its retention of the top spot comes one month on from the news of James Anderson’s retirement next April. Tom Slater, who has been joint manager of the trust since 2015, will become lead manager from April 2022.

Lawrence Burns, who has co-managed the Baillie Gifford International Concentrated Growth Strategy since 2017, will become deputy fund manager with immediate effect. Burns has worked at Baillie Gifford since 2009.

The next global trust is Monks, which is regarded as a less aggressive version of Scottish Mortgage. It climbed five places up the table in April to fourth place. Its longstanding fund manager Charles Plowden retired at the end of April. He has been replaced by co-manager Spencer Adair, who has stepped up to become lead manager. Like other Baillie Gifford trusts, Monks adopts a long-term growth-oriented approach.

Alliance Trust, a new entry, completes the trio of trusts in the AIC Global sector in our top 10.  Alliance Trust is a multi-manager ‘best ideas portfolio’, with each manager’s portfolio typically containing 20 stocks. In April 2017, Alliance Trust switched to the multi-manager structure, which is overseen by Willis Towers Watson. Since then, Alliance Trust has outperformed its benchmark – the MSCI All Country World Index – with its share price up 54.9% versus 52.4% for the index, according to figures from FE Analytics. 

The remaining two of five global trusts invest in global smaller companies. Edinburgh Worldwide (LSE:EWI) occupies the third spot, down one place from March. Douglas Brodie, head of Bailie Gifford’s global discovery team, has run the trust since 2014. Brodie and his team focus on identifying early stage companies offering solutions that haven’t yet been addressed by larger companies. Such companies tend to be early stage disruptors in the industry they operate in. 

The other global smaller companies trust is Smithson, which has returned to the top 10 having slipped out in February. The trust, managed by Simon Barnard, last month reported its results for 2020. It announced that it had returned investors over 30% in 2020. In comparison, the trust’s benchmark, the MSCI World SMID Index, returned just 12.2%. 

Smithson applies the investment philosophy of Terry Smith's Fundsmith Equity fund, but instead focuses on global smaller companies that are deemed too small to be held in Fundsmith. Since its launch in November 2018, Smithson’s share price total return is 77.2% versus 38.6% for its benchmark. 

City of London rises to second place in our rankings 

Elsewhere, City of London (LSE:CTY) investment trust continued to climb up the table. It is now in second place, having re-entered the top 10 last month. The trust, managed by Job Curtis, has raised dividends for 54 consecutive years.

Curtis invests in companies undervalued on a medium-term basis that he can invest in over the long term. In March, Curtis added to existing holdings in Legal & General (LSE:LGEN)and Phoenix (LSE:PHNX). Its holding in ITV (LSE:ITV) was sold.

Curtis explained: “Additions were made to City of London’s holdings in life insurers Legal & General and Phoenix, which reported satisfactory profits and dividends for 2020 and should benefit from the recent rise in bond yields. After the strong recovery in its share price, the holding in ITV was sold given competition for television from new services.”

Also moving up the table in April was BlackRock World Mining (LSE:BRWM). It jumped five places to fifth position, having entered the top 10 last December. The trust’s six-month and one-year performance figures are particularly strong, with gains of 54.3% and 114.4%. Commodities have soared during the pandemic, and investment bank Goldman Sachs believes the rally has only just started. The bank has predicted the start of a commodities supercycle – a multi-year bull market.

Fidelity China Special Situations (LSE: FCSS) also advanced, rising one place to seventh. The trust has doubled investors’ money over the past year, but performance has cooled over the past three months – with the share price down 3.2%. It has, however, has fared better than JP Morgan China Growth & Income (LSE: JCGI), which lost 12.5% over the same time period. JPMorgan China Growth & Income’s faltering short-term performance took place at the same time as the trust exited our top 10 table.

Finally, sliding down the top 10 but comfortably retaining their places are Allianz Technology (LSE:ATT) and Baillie Gifford US Growth (LSE:USA).

Pacific Horizon (LSE: PHI) is no longer in the top 10. The Asia Pacific-focused trust was in fifth place last month.  

Top 10 most-popular investment trusts: April 2021 

  Trust Sector Rank change from March 2021 One-year performance to 1 May 2021 (%) Three-year performance to 1 May 2021 (%)
1 Scottish Mortgage Global No change 97.8 167.3
2 City of London UK equity income Up 5 22 5.4
3 Edinburgh Worldwide Global smaller companies Down 1 67.7 130.7
4 Monks Global Up 5 56.7 79.6
5 BlackRock World Mining Commodities & natural resources Up 5 114.4 97.1
6 Allianz Technolgy Technology & Media Down 2 63.7 130.4
7 Fidelity China Special Situations China/Greater China Up 1 100.1 88.1
8 Baillie Giffford US Growth North America Down 5 100.3 218.7
9 Smithson Investment Trust Global smaller companies New entry 36.7 *N/A
10 Alliance Trust Global New entry 40.3 42.9

Source: Interactive investor. FE Analytics used for performance figures. Note: the top 10 is based on the number of “buys” during the month of April 2021. * Insufficient track record. 

These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.

Get more news and expert articles direct to your inbox

Sign up for a free research account to get the latest news and discussion, and create your own virtual portfolio.

Free Sign Up