The top-10 most-bought ISA investment trusts in March

ISA investors favoured commodity and wealth-preservation investment trusts last month. But who topped the list for the sixth month running?

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Growth expectations for the global economy have fallen to their lowest level among professional investors since 2008, according to the latest Bank of America Global Fund Manager Survey. Almost half of fund managers identified the Russia-Ukraine crisis as the biggest issue, followed by concerns over a possible global recession and inflation rates. With 60% of fund managers predicting a bear market in 2022, investors may be worried about protecting their ISA portfolios against a downturn.

However, it’s not all bad news for ISA investors. Fund managers tip the commodities sector to produce the highest returns in 2022, followed by emerging market equities and gold. There’s also been a resurgence in demand for value shares this year after the bull run in growth stocks came to an end.

Let’s see whether these predictions were reflected in the investment choices of UK ISA investors last month.


The top-10 most-bought investment trusts for ISAs

According to Interactive Investor, these were the most popular investment trusts among their customers in March:




1-year return


Scottish Mortgage




JPMorgan Russian Securities

Country specialist



BlackRock World Mining




City of London

UK equity income



Capital Gearing

Flexible investment



RIT Capital Partners

Flexible investment



Smithson Investment Trust

Global smaller cos.



Greencoat UK Wind

Renewable energy



Ruffer Investment Company

Flexible investment



Personal Assets

Flexible investment


What does this tell us about current investor appetite? Well, tightening monetary policy, high inflation and rising interest rates have hit the valuations of growth-based trusts. It may therefore come as little surprise to see four growth-orientated trusts exiting the top 10. Polar Capital Technology, Allianz Technology, Edinburgh Worldwide and Baillie Gifford US Growth have made significant losses of 18-25% over the last 3 months.

If growth trusts are out of favour with ISA investors, which trusts have taken their places? According to Kyle Caldwell from Interactive Investor, some investors are “viewing defence as the best strategy at a time when there’s no shortage of headwinds”. He describes RIT Capital Partners, Ruffer Investment Company, Personal Assets and Capital Gearing as offering “plenty of defensive armoury in an attempt to weather stock market storms.”

Kyle Caldwell reports that other ISA investors are “on the lookout for opportunities” with JPMorgan Russian Securities rising from seventh place in February to second in March. Commodity-based funds are also popular with ISA investors. BlackRock World Mining makes the top 10 for the third month running, while JPMorgan Natural Resources enters for the first time in 2022.

Let’s take a closer look at the three most-bought investment trusts.

1. Scottish Mortgage (SMT)

Despite the fall in favour of its fellow growth-based peers, Scottish Mortgage retains top place as the most-bought trust. According to Trustnet, it’s dropped by an eye-watering 26% in the last six months. However, demand from investors looking to invest at reduced prices has triggered a modest recovery of +5% in the last month.

Scottish Mortgage has rewarded longer-term ISA investors with a 5-year return of 187%, which is double the return of the next highest trust in the global sector. The trust aims to invest in disruptive companies, including up to 30% in unlisted companies.

2. JPMorgan Russian Securities (JRS)

Unsurprisingly, this trust’s share price has plummeted by 81% in the last three months, as reported by Trustnet. Prior to that, it achieved a 21% and 55% return for ISA investors in 2021 and 2019 respectively.

James Carthew from Marten & Co believes that “Unburdened by conscience, the temptation would be to say that JRS is cheap.” However, he comments that, ethically, the trust is “beyond the pale as a bargain opportunity”. While shareholders recently voted to continue the trust, some experts believe it should be wound up or merged with another emerging markets trust.

3. BlackRock World Mining (BRWM)

The Financial Times reports that commodity-based exchange-traded products attracted $6.8  billion (£5.7 billion) of investment in the first two months of 2022. These products have benefitted from increasing energy and food prices in a high-inflation environment.

While Kyle Caldwell comments that some investors are “predicting the early stages of a new ‘super-cycle’, which is being driven by the global green revolution as major economies strive to decarbonise.”

BlackRock World Mining has delivered strong returns for ISA investors in the last three years, including a 47% gain in 2020, according to Trustnet. It’s risen by 32% so far in 2022 and is currently trading at a 3% discount to its net asset value.


Final thoughts

Investor appetite continues to rotate away from growth-based trusts to more defensive ISA options for the inflationary environment. However, the recent fall in the price of some trusts has attracted opportunistic buying for a longer-term investment.

Buying investment trusts within an ISA means that any gains or income are tax free. If you’re looking to compare ISA platforms, our experts have produced a guide to our top-rated ISA providers.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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