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Trust ISA Millionaires: The 2024 Edition

The AIC has updated its annual list of ISA Millionaires, the number of trusts that would now be worth a million pounds if you had invested your full ISA allowance each year.

ISAs began in 1999 when you could have invested £7,000 a year. The allowance remained the same for a decade before jumping to £10,200 in 2010, £15,000 in 2015, and £20,000 since 2017. There were a few, smaller inflation-linked increases along the way as well.

If you invested your full ISA allowance for each of the last 25 tax years, that comes to £306,560. So we are talking about a tripling of your contributions overall although the biggest contributions were in recent years and haven’t had as much time to grow.

10% is the magic number

If each of your annual contributions grew at a steady rate of 10% a year, then that would have generated a million pounds. That’s pretty much the long-term return for global markets as this chart from Vanguard, using the FTSE World index, indicates:

FTSE World annual returns

But if we start in 1999, we are probably looking at nearer 7-8% for annual global market returns, so 10% represents a decent level of outperformance over the last 25 years. UK markets were probably closer to 5-6%, more than keeping up in the early stages but lacking the fitness to go the distance.

As I’ve said when reviewing previous versions of this list, I like this data as the pattern of contributions is similar to the way most people invest, i.e. regular amounts increasing steadily over time, so it helps to weed out those that had strong early performance followed by lacklustre returns over a longer period of time.

The 32 ISA Millionaires

Here’s the list of 32 trusts that the AIC’s data boffins reckon made the cut as of 31 January 2024. I’ve shown the total share price return and the annualised equivalent to give a better sense of the rate of returns over time. As usual, the column headers are sortable if you want to play with the data.

RankTrust nameAIC sectorShare price total return Apr 99 to Jan 24Annualised total return Apr 99 to Jan 24Total ISA value as of Jan 24
1HgCapitalPrivate Equity3,700%15.8%£2,254,391
2Allianz TechnologyTechnology1,894%12.8%£2,095,955
3Polar Capital TechnologyTechnology1,573%12.0%£1,912,656
4Scottish MortgageGlobal1,366%11.4%£1,639,261
5Scottish Oriental Smaller CompaniesAsia Pacific Smaller Companies4,024%16.2%£1,538,589
6abrdn Asia FocusAsia Pacific Smaller Companies3,742%15.8%£1,491,435
7JPMorgan AmericanNorth America889%9.7%£1,413,500
8Pacific HorizonAsia Pacific2,334%13.7%£1,303,270
9JPMorgan Global Growth & IncomeGlobal Equity Income923%9.8%£1,268,898
10BlackRock ThrogmortonUK Smaller Companies1,252%11.1%£1,214,138
11Worldwide HealthcareBiotechnology & Healthcare1,999%13.0%£1,197,232
12International BiotechnologyBiotechnology & Healthcare1,846%12.7%£1,194,730
13Fidelity EuropeanEurope1,725%12.4%£1,188,448
14Biotech GrowthBiotechnology & Healthcare1,317%11.3%£1,169,361
15Canadian General InvestmentsNorth America1,439%11.6%£1,159,765
16BlackRock Smaller CompaniesUK Smaller Companies1,138%10.7%£1,157,120
17Mid Wynd InternationalGlobal1,182%10.8%£1,142,541
18Rights & IssuesUK Smaller Companies1,588%12.1%£1,134,352
19JPMorgan UK Smaller CompaniesUK Smaller Companies1,268%11.1%£1,123,473
20European Smaller CompaniesEuropean Smaller Companies906%9.7%£1,112,995
21JPMorgan European DiscoveryEuropean Smaller Companies1,664%12.3%£1,087,689
22JPMorgan US Smaller CompaniesNorth American Smaller Companies1,238%11.0%£1,086,589
23HeraldGlobal Smaller Companies855%9.5%£1,077,135
24JPMorgan IndianIndia/Indian Subcontinent1,778%12.5%£1,076,331
25Montanaro European Smaller CompaniesEuropean Smaller Companies917%9.8%£1,066,051
26ICG EnterprisePrivate Equity580%8.0%£1,065,553
27AVI GlobalGlobal1,482%11.8%£1,058,026
28Fidelity Asian ValuesAsia Pacific Smaller Companies806%9.3%£1,055,507
29BlackRock World MiningCommodities & Natural Resources1,853%12.7%£1,037,056
30Pantheon InternationalPrivate Equity1,017%10.2%£1,027,265
31F&CGlobal681%8.6%£1,007,460
32Henderson European FocusEurope745%9.0%£1,005,182

I reckon 128 trusts have been listed for 25 years, so this list of 32 represents a quarter of those. If we assume the number of trusts available to buy back in 1999 was about the same as it is now, then we are looking at 32 out of around 400, so that’s less than a tenth.

Of course, a lot of less successful trusts have been merged into more successful ones over the years. Based on money invested, as an estimated ‘survival rate’ we are looking at somewhere between a quarter and a tenth. It’s hard to be more precise than that without having the full data set and the time and skill to crunch the numbers.


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You’ll notice that the list is nearly all equity trusts as that’s because most alternative trusts are less than twenty years old. Of the existing trusts that were launched before April 1999, five were private equity, eight were in the Flexible sector, twelve were VCTs, and there is one property and one debt trust. Of these, three out of five private equity trusts make the list and it probably should be four out of six as the AIC list excludes 3i, but there’s nothing from the other sectors.

3i was included in the list previously but seems to have been omitted both this year and last year. As it is up around 50% over the last twelve months and had a total value of £1.2m in the 2022 list, I suspect it would be near the top if it was included.

Small is beautiful, once again

As the AIC release noted, 12 of the 32 have a small-cap focus and they are spread across all the small-cap sub-sectors except Japanese Smaller Companies. The mainstream Japan sector is also absent, as although Japanese equities have performed well over the last decade, they would have lost you money before then.

China is another notable absentee — three of the four China trusts were around in 1999 but I believe only one of them has been focused on China throughout with the other two initially having a wider regional focus.

India appears in the guise of JPMorgan Indian but the other three Indian trusts are too young for this list.

But I think the more general takeaway here is that there have been good-performing trusts across most regions and in trusts that invest in both large and small companies and also in unquoted ones. Each sector or region will have its time in the sun but over the very long run, things often even out.

From a personal point of view, I own five of those listed but there are six others that I used to own in the late 1990s that I sold out of a long time ago and where I wish I had been more patient. As the late, great Charlie Munger was fond of saying, it’s your sitting still on an investment that makes you money.

I’ve looked at nearly all these trusts in my fund profiles on this site or Money Makers but I can see four that I haven’t covered yet that I plan to add to my ‘to-do’ list.

How the list has changed over time

If you want to look at past lists, here are links to my previous articles or the original AIC press release:

It’s interesting to see that the number of £1m companies hasn’t changed much over the last three years, although there was a massive jump between 2019 and 2021. Trusts saw discounts widen during 2023, although equity trusts to a lesser degree than alternatives, so that’s why the numbers only increased a little in this year’s list despite what was (eventually) a good year for global markets.

The individual trusts on the last few lists haven’t changed very much at all and I’d say they represent a pretty good shortlist of trusts to choose from. Private equity appears to be creeping up the ranks while a few of the gr0wth-dominated trusts run by Baillie Gifford and the out-of-favour UK Smaller Companies sector have slipped down or off the table.

Let’s hope there’s another list produced in early 2025 and that we see several more companies join the £1m club.

   

Disclaimer

Please note that I may own some of the investments mentioned above -- you can see my current holdings on my portfolio page.

Nothing on this website should be regarded as a buy or sell recommendation as I'm just a random person writing a blog in his spare time and I am not authorised to give financial advice. Always do your own research and seek financial advice if necessary!


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One Reply to “Trust ISA Millionaires: The 2024 Edition”

  1. Fascinating stuff. Ever harder to remember to think long-term!

    Particularly interested by the temporal skew e.g. Scottish Oriental, which has best results overall, but because the past 10 years or so have been hum-drum, have produced lower returns overall, as the pot was larger then.

    I am an Asia fan, so am senstive to this as it’s been a painful decade. In contrast, I imagine that 10 years ago the Tech Trust performances wouldn’t look so hot (think that’s when MSFT reached a new high?).

    Also amazing that HGT on a 17% discount again despite such stellar results.

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