The best performer turned £10,000 into £1.47m in 28 years. Emma Wall on five incredible investments.
The baby-boomers have had it good, the argument goes.
Not only have they ridden the wave of rising house prices but the stock market has served them well too, with the powerful rally in stock markets in the final two decades of the 20th Century now looking like something of an historical anomaly.
Even with the turbulence of the past five years, some of these funds have made small fortunes for those who were shrewd enough - and lucky enough - to have picked them. A well timed investment for many has meant that their retirement is looking sweet.
Of course, many funds fail to deliver anything like the returns mentioned below. Independent financial advisers and fund analysts attempt to work out tomorrow's winners, but it's far from an exact science.
We examine five funds that could have secured your financial future if you had been savvy enough to invest at the right time - and what experts say about them today.
THE GOLD RUSH: BLACKROCK GOLD & GENERAL
Return: Turned £10,000 into £219,250.
One of the most successful commodities funds of all time, the BlackRock Gold & General fund invests in mining companies and shares involved in the procurement and production of gold.
It has been helped by an incredible rally in the price of gold. Gordon Brown, of course, famously sold 400 tonnes of Britain's gold reserves in 1999 when he was Chancellor for between $256 and $296 an ounce.
It then soared, eventually hitting a high of $1,895 in 2011. Gold has been in demand because it is regarded as holding its value when inflation takes off. Central banks have been buying it and demand has been high with consumers in India. Today it is around $1,650.
But the BlackRock (NYSE: BLK - news) fund has not had a smooth run of late. Although the value of physical gold rose for the 12th consecutive year in 2012, gold-related shares, such as miners, did not do so well.
Manager Evy Hambro said he expected that to change this year. "The investment case for gold looks robust, with recent action by governments indicating that real interest rates are likely to remain negative in 2013, and the risk of inflation has increased. In addition, the behaviour of central banks suggests gold purchases look set to continue as diversification of currency exposure remains a key focus," he said.
"The gold price over the last decade has risen dramatically, which has clearly fuelled gold miners profits as they normally have a fixed cost of getting the metal out of the ground, therefore an increase in the gold price goes straight to the bottom line," he said. "However gold shares haven't kept pace with the gold price in recent years hence shorter term lacklustre performance, at some point this disconnect will reverse. With lots of governments struggling under the weight of debt, nervous investors still like the safety gold offers."
THE FAR EAST: ABERDEEN ASIAN SMALLER COMPANIES
Return: Turned £10,000 into £189,300 in 15 years.
Jason Hollands of adviser BestInvest credits the success of this Far East (Kuala Lumpur: 5029.KL - news) investment trust to the fact that it is run out of Singapore meaning it has ears on the ground.
The team is renowned for protecting investments in a falling market, with the managers shrewdly selling shares in vulnerable parts of the market. This is particularly beneficial in a volatile area such as smaller emerging market companies. But the beauty is, it also does extremely well in rising markets as well.
"Aberdeen has carved out a phenomenal franchise as a market leader in Asia equities, with a large Singapore based team," said Mr Hollands. "We rate this trust very highly and feel the closed end structure works well for investing in less liquid stocks. The performance has been phenomenal. The fund has a high exposure to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore."
EUROPE: JUPITER EUROPEAN
Return: Turned £10,000 into £130,872 in 20 years.
European stock markets beat the US and the UK stock market in 2012 topping off a great 20-year run for this fund.
"In spite of the recent rally European shares remains cheap and there some good quality companies which pay attractive dividends," he said. "Europe will have its success stories and I believe Alexander Darwall remains a manager to back to harness these. The Focus is on identifying world-beating companies with strong business models."
THE UK: FIDELITY SPECIAL SITUATIONS
Return: Turned £10,000 into £1.47m in 28 years.
Anthony Bolton established himself as the stock-picker to beat in his fabulous run on this fund between 1979 to 2007. His shrewd stock selections delivered average returns of nearly 20pc.
When Mr Bolton stood down in 2007, the flagship fund was split in two. One half retained the Special Situations name, but focused on UK holdings and was taken over by Sanjeev Shah, Mr Bolton's protégé. Despite an impressive first year, when he returned 21pc, Mr Shah's performance dwindled, posting negative figures for the next 24 months, then with two years of returning less than 5pc.
Darius McDermott of Chelsea Financial Services now rates the fund as a "hold". "First (Other OTC: FSTC - news) run by Anthony Bolton who had an amazing near-30 year track record on the fund. Sanjeev took it on and also did well for a couple of years before hitting a prolonged bad patch due to his overweight [bigger bet] in banks. Performance over the last few months has picked up considerably," he said.
INDIA: JP MORGAN INDIAN
Return: Turned £10,000 into £85,730 in 15 years.
It may not have been a smooth ride, but this fund is a testament to why patience is a vital virtue when it comes to long-term investing.
"As you might expect from a single country emerging market vehicle, performance is volatile so it is not for the faint hearted. Unlike some other emerging markets, the Indian rupee is not pegged to the dollar so currency is a contributor to this volatility," said Mr Hollands.
This specialist trust does not have to mimic any index in its investing strategy and consequently can have a very high level of stock concentration around its largest holdings which include India's big conglomerates such as energy firm Reliance and the conglomerate Tata, which owns brands such as Jaguar.