Revealed! The best perfoming funds and trusts since ISAs began

ISAs have been around for almost 23 years, but where have investors made the biggest returns over this time? Read on to find out.

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It’s been almost 23 years since the ISA was launched. Over this time, ISAs have helped millions of Brits invest in a tax-efficient way and build wealth.

But where have investors made the biggest returns over the lifetime of their ISAs? And more specifically, which funds and trusts have performed best since the launch of the ISA in 1999? 

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How has the average global fund performed since the ISA was launched?

It’s common knowledge that investing in stocks and shares carries some degree of risk. Negative market conditions could cause your investment to lose value, and you could get back less than you invest.

According to AJ Bell, there couldn’t have been a worse time to invest in stocks and shares than when the ISA was first launched in 1999.

The launch of the ISA preceded the infamous dot-com crash, which triggered a deep and prolonged bear market. The FTSE 100, the most popular stock market index in the UK, lost nearly half of its value in the three years after Christmas 1999. It would actually take the FTSE 100 fifteen years to regain its pre-dot-com crash level!

However, research from AJ Bell shows that early ISA investors who have not been discouraged by market upheavals and volatility and who have held onto their investments have experienced the healing power of time in the market.

The data reveals that £1,000 invested in the average global fund in 1999 would now be worth £3,875 or £2,435 after taking inflation into account.

Which ISA funds and trusts have performed the best since the ISA was launched?

AJ Bell has revealed the best performing investment funds and trusts since the ISA was launched.

Here’s how much £1,000 invested in these top-performing funds and trusts in 1999 would be worth now.

Best performing funds since April 1999


IA sector

Return on £1,000 invested

Annualised return

Marlborough Special Situations

UK All Companies



abrdn Indian Equity

India/Indian Subcontinent



ASI Emerging Markets Equity

Global Emerging Markets



Baillie Gifford Pacific

Asia Pacific Excluding Japan



Artemis UK Smaller Companies

UK Smaller Companies



SKAGEN Global 




Schroder ISF Greater China 

China/Greater China



Barings Hong Kong China

China/Greater China



BlackRock UK Smaller Companies

UK Smaller Companies



Threadneedle European Smaller Cos

European Smaller Companies




Best performing trusts since 1999



Return on £1,000 invested

Annualised return

Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus

Asia Pacific Smaller Companies



HgCapital Trust

Private Equity



Pacific Horizon

Asia Pacific



Scottish Oriental Smaller Cos

Asia Pacific Smaller Companies



BlackRock World Mining Trust

Commodities & Natural Resources



Rights & Issues Investment Trust

UK Smaller Companies



Worldwide Healthcare

Biotechnology & Healthcare



Aberdeen New Dawn

Asia Pacific



TR Property

Property Securities



Allianz Technology Trust

Technology & Media




Is it easy to benefit from a stocks and shares ISA?

If you had invested in these top-performing ISA funds or trusts in 1999, your money would have realised an annualised return of as much as 16.4%, as seen.

An extra benefit of investing via a stocks and shares ISA is that you don’t pay any tax on your money’s growth or dividends.

If you don’t have a stocks and shares ISA, it’s never too late to open one. The easiest and often the cheapest way to open this ISA is through an online investment platform.

There are numerous such platforms in the UK, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Make sure to compare different options first to find the one that best suits your needs.

To help you with this task, we have compiled a list of some of the top-rated stocks and shares ISA providers in the UK.


Each year, you can invest up to £20,000 in an ISA completely tax free.

So, if you’ve not used any of your ISA allowance for this year, it means that you can possibly shelter as much as £40,000 of your money from tax between now and the end of the 2022/2023 tax year by opening a stocks and shares ISA and using this year’s allowance before the 5 April deadline.

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