The Best UK Investment Trusts – Ranked

Investment trusts are one of the oldest forms of investment vehicles. The first British investment trust was the Foreign & Colonial Government Trust, launched in 1868 to allow investors to invest in a variety of foreign government bonds. It still survives today, as the Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust (Ticker: LSE: FCIT). The best investment trusts are remerging as one of the strongest performing categories of collective investments available to retail investors. In this article, we’ll help you discover which is the best investment trust in 2021. 

Best investment trusts

What is an investment trust?

Investment trusts are actively managed funds that use a closed-end legal structure with shares listed on a regulated exchange.

In words a layperson would easily understand, they’re publicly traded companies that have floated on the stock exchange, which uses its capital to invest in other investments rather than to carry out a business in its own right.

When the company raises new funds (primary share sale), it creates new shares and sells these directly to investors. The proceeds from these sales are invested by the company, allowing it to grow its assets and investors. 

When investors sell shares to each other via the London stock exchange, (secondary share sale), the proceeds merely pass between investors. The trust and its investment portfolio are not involved in the transaction. 

This is an important concept because it is a point of differentiation between investment trusts and open-ended products like cheap equity ETFs or OEICs. Open-ended funds allow for frequent trading between the fund and investors which allows the fund to grow or contract in accordance with demand.

In contrast, investment trusts rarely issue new shares or cancel outstanding shares. Therefore its investment portfolio could be compared to live music performance with a finite number of tickets on sale. If demand is high for a show, then the prices of the tickets might be bid up, and if demand is low for a particular date then the price of the tickets may be low – despite the fact that the scheduled show is precisely the same on both dates. This introduces an extra factor in the pricing of investment trust shares, known as the premium or discount. This represents the difference between the latest price of all shares outstanding and the reported value of the underlying investments held by the trust. 

How to invest in investment trusts

To invest in an investment trust, you’ll need to open an account with a stockbroker which will allow you to buy shares in investment trusts. We’ve shortlisted the best of the best UK stockbrokers below to help your search:

Overall best broker

Etoro stockbroker

Trade shares with zero commission. Open an account with just $100. High performance and useful friendly trading app. Other fees apply. For more information, visit

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Best for £100k+

Interactive Investor Broker

Large UK trading platform with a flat account fee and a free trade every month. Cheapest for investors with big pots.

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Best for funds

Hargreaves Stockbroker

The UK’s no. 1 investment platform for private investors. Boasting over £135bn in assets under administration and over 1.5m active clients. Best for funds. 

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AJ Bell Youinvest Stockbroker

Youinvest stocks & shares ISA offers lower prices the more you trade! Which? 'Recommended Provider' for last 3 years.

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Nutmeg Stockbroker

Choose a pre-made portfolio in minutes with Nutmeg. Choose your level of risk and let Nutmeg efficiently handle the rest.

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Fidelity stockbroker

Buy and sell funds at nil cost with Fidelity International, plus simple £10 trading fees for stocks & shares and ETFs.

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Freedom Finance

Trade stocks & options on the advanced yet low-cost Freedom24 platform that arms retail investors with the tools to trade like professionals.

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Please also see our Hargreaves Lansdown review, our AJ Bell review and interactive investor review.

The best investment trusts: how we have ranked

Choosing the best funds to invest in is almost an impossible task. In this article, we use several measures, including fund age, value, historical performance and reputation to shortlist notable investment trusts.

Disclaimer: Financial Expert articles should not be considered financial advice. If you feel you need suitable advice from a qualified and independent adviser under the oversight of the UK regulator, find a financial adviser. What follows is journalist research and information which was true at the date of writing. Please be aware that the financial markets continue to evolve and therefore information on this page could be out of date. We try to provide links to the websites of financial providers where possible to enable you to get live information where possible. 

The oldest UK investment trusts

It makes sense to begin at the beginning. Long-standing investment trusts can be attractive to cautious investors who prioritise the preservation of capital. Old investment trusts have demonstrated that through world wars, recessions and even great depressions, they have survived (and in some cases; thrived). Let’s look at the three oldest surviving UK investment trusts which are still listed on the London market today. 

1. Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust – 1868

Ticker symbol: FCIT

The Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust is a £5.9bn investment stalwart, dating back to an era in which foreign direct investment was a flight of fancy for all but the most organised and knowledgeable investors. 

Today, the Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust states that its objective is to “generate long-term growth and income by investing primarily in an international portfolio of listed equities. The Trust is highly diversified and cautiously managed.”

The trust benchmarks its performance against the FTSE All World TR Index, (TR stands for Total Return, i.e. inclusive of dividends). 

The trust is ultimately controlled by Columbia Threadneedle Investments, following the announcement of the sale of prior manager Canadian BMO that it would divest its European asset management business in April 2021. 

Visit the investment trust website for the latest information about the fund and its performance. 

2. Dunedin Income Growth Investment Trust PLC – 1873

Ticker symbol: DIG

The Dunedin Income Growth Investment Trust is the second oldest surviving investment trust on the London Stock Exchange. Founded in February 1873 as “The First Scottish”, the Dunedin vehicle, founded by Robert Fleming invested in US equities – an emerging market of its day.  

Today, the trust has firmly pivoted to UK and European equities, making it a complementary holding to the US-focused investment trusts which are ubiquitous in the growth-orientated end of the fund industry. 

The trust reported net assets of £448m in January 2021.

Visit the investment trust website for the latest information about the fund and its performance. 

3. Scottish American Investment Co plc – 1873 

Ticker: SAINT

The second trust on this list was co-founded by Robert Fleming, alongside Edinburgh legal mind William Menzies. The Scottish American Investment Co Trust has remained true to its original portfolio strategy, retaining a healthy allocation to US equities. 

However, in the modern-day, the geographical spread of its holdings has widened dramatically. The September 2021 fund factsheet reveals an Asian equity allocation of 15%, and its European equity portion of 32% slightly outweighs US equities by a single percentage point. 

The trust has net assets of £1 billion in Novemeber 2021. This wealth is managed by the mighty Baillie Gifford, a name that will feature prominently in this overall best investment trust article. 

Visit the investment trust website for the latest information about the fund and its performance. 

Best investment trusts for 1-year performance

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns, but investors nevertheless look at the recent performance (particularly against benchmarks) to determine whether a fund manager has performed well with hindsight. 

As of November 2021, here are the highest performing UK investment trusts based on their share price performance over a single year. 

1. Fidelity Special Values plc – 72.20%

2. Henderson Opportunities Trust – 60.40%

3. Artemis Alpha Trust plc – 45.40%

4. JPMorgan Mid Cap Investment Trust plc – 44.20%

5. Schroder UK Mid Cap Fund plc – 42%

Single year period performance should not be evaluated in isolation. An asset class that crashed in one year can easily post spectacular returns in the next without even fully recovering to its original value. Therefore, sometimes the investment trusts which post extremely high returns have recently recovered from a market setback or heavy discount which had occurred before the starting date of the 12 month period. 

Best investment trusts for 5-year performance

For a longer-term picture, we can present the five best investment trusts by five-year share price performance. The percentage after the trust name is the cumulative five-year share price return to shareholders.

1. Henderson Opportunities Trust – 100.9%

2. Artemis Alpha Trust plc – 100%

3. Schroder UK Mid Cap Fund plc – 99.40%

4. Mercantile Investment Trust – 93.40%

5. JPMorgan Mid Cap Investment Trust plc – 79.10%

Each of these investment trusts has delivered a tremendous return for their lucky shareholders, however, the gods of the financial markets give no assurances that this performance will repeat itself. 

Given the double-digit growth figures in some of the best investment trusts, it comes as no surprise that investment trusts are some of the most commonly held investments by stocks & shares ISA millionaires.

The largest investment trusts

If you value safety in numbers, then you might seek out the largest investment trusts. Larger trusts can sustainably diversify across a large number of investments – although size doesn’t always correspond to diversity. The largest investment trust isn’t necessarily the best investment trust.

We’ve listed below every investment trust with over £1 billion in net asset value, ranked from largest to smallest. Quite staggeringly, even this long list represents a minority of the total number of investment trusts available on offer. 

Some of these UK trusts are REITs (real estate investment trusts), which we also cover in our guide to the best UK REITs.

Fund NameTotal Assets (m)
Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust plc21,758.74
3i Group Plc11,115.82
F&C Investment Trust5,839.79
Tritax Big Box REIT Plc4,746.02
RIT Capital Partners4,658.64
Polar Capital Technology Trust3,975.77
Alliance Trust PLC3,904.16
Monks Investment Trust Plc3,631.97
Greencoat UK Wind PLC3,503.86
Smithson Investment Trust plc3,287.64
HICL Infrastructure PLC Ord2,966.93
Mercantile Investment Trust2,804.67
Globalworth Real Estate Investments Limited2,776.76
Worldwide Healthcare2,658.89
The Renewables Infrastructure Group Limited2,607.37
HarbourVest Global Private Equity2,594.73
Caledonia Investments Plc2,534.54
Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust TEMIT2,510.99
International Public Partnerships Limited2,456.90
3i Infrastructure Plc2,346.25
Witan Investment Trust2,303.17
Fidelity China Special Situations PLC2,240.88
Finsbury Growth & Income Trust Plc2,161.87
Pantheon International PLC2,137.84
TR Property Investment Trust1,922.62
Vietnam Enterprise Investments Limited1,904.04
The City of London Investment Trust Plc1,903.62
Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Inc Ord1,882.65
Herald Investment Trust1,817.46
Bankers Investment Trust Plc1,757.86
Murray International Trust Plc1,745.03
JPMorgan Emerging Markets Inv Trust1,738.32
Personal Assets Trust1,717.14
Fidelity European Trust PLC1,676.71
UK Mortgages Limited1,661.71
HgCapital Trust Plc1,658.25
Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust Plc1,575.63
JPMorgan American Investment Trust1,568.99
Allianz Technology Trust Plc1,562.94
Impax Environmental Markets Trust Plc1,541.34
Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited1,511.45
Amedeo Air Four Plus Limited1,467.20
UK Commercial Property REIT Limited1,456.97
Edinburgh Worldwide Investment Trust Plc1,436.35
AVI Global Trust PLC1,358.95
Supermarket Income REIT plc1,347.00
JPMorgan Japanese Investment Trust1,336.05
Edinburgh Investment Trust Plc1,294.67
Apax Global Alpha Ord1,286.96
Octopus Titan VCT1,282.04
Chrysalis Investments Limited1,280.24
BMO Commercial Property Trust1,275.47
Murray Income Trust Plc1,272.15
NB Private Equity Partners Class A Ord1,229.83
BlackRock Throgmorton Trust plc1,217.69
BlackRock World Mining Trust plc1,214.22
Syncona Limited1,198.37
GCP Student Living PLC1,189.33
BlackRock Smaller Companies Trust1,181.78
BB Healthcare Trust PLC1,177.25
Fidelity Special Values PLC1,156.32
Baillie Gifford Japan Trust PLC1,140.95
BMO Global Smaller Companies Plc1,128.31
Law Debenture Corporation1,122.88
LXI REIT1,118.90
JPMorgan European Discovery Trust Plc1,113.32
European Opportunities Trust plc1,109.87
Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust plc1,105.28
Henderson Smaller Companies Investment Trust1,104.91
Schroder AsiaPacific Fund plc1,102.28
GCP Infrastructure Investments1,060.17
VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Ltd1,049.84
ICG Enterprise Trust Plc1,043.75
BioPharma Credit PLC1,021.98
Tritax EuroBox EUR plc1,016.98
Scottish American Investment Company Plc1,007.65

We hope you’ve found this best investment trusts article useful and that it has aided your research of what to invest in.