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ISAs come of age: the top performing sectors over 18 years revealed

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

As ISAs turn 18, long-term investors in biotech and healthcare have been rewarded with returns of more than 1,300% in that time. Here’s a breakdown of the top performing sectors.

According to the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), the top performing investment company sector over the last 18 years is Sector Specialist: Biotechnology & Healthcare, up a whopping 1,313%.

In second place is the eight company strong Country Specialist: Asia Pacific sector, up 1,280% in 18 years, against an overall weighted average investment company return of 388%.

This is followed by the Global Emerging Markets sector, which is up 805%, though the AIC noted that it’s had a more volatile time over the last five years.

Within the top five, the Asia Pacific Excluding Japan sector has also performed well as it’s up 794% and Smaller companies has also produced some strong returns. The European Smaller Companies sector takes fifth place, up 625%, followed by North American Smaller Companies (556%) and UK Smaller Companies (520%).

The Private Equity sector also posted above average returns, up 507%, and the UK All Companies sector rose 456%.


Annabel Brodie-Smith, communications director at the AIC, said: “Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes ‘long-term’ – in fact our own investor confidence research this year found that 8% of active investors consider three-to-five years a ‘long-term’ investment horizon. Whereas we consider long-term investments to be at least five years and preferably longer.

“There’s no doubt that 18 years is a long-term investment and it’s clear investors in some of the top performing investment company sectors have been rewarded for their patience over the long-term. In some sectors investors have needed bags of patience, as demonstrated by the volatility of the Global Emerging Markets sector in recent years, but their investment has paid off over the long term.”

Brodie-Smith said there’s no telling which sector will be topping the tables in the future so investors need to focus on a diversified portfolio for the long-term.