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Julian Gibbs

I do not often write about conservative funds but, in markets like these, that is what the average middleaged Isa investor wants.

I think it is unwise to be totally invested in bonds although the best high-income bond managers have shown very good returns over the past five years. The two Invesco Perpetual funds run by Paul Read and Paul Causer are my favourites.

One fund is up by more than 50 per cent over five years and the other more conservative fund is up by more than 40 per cent.

However, I think the right answer for most people is to invest in a mixed fund with a higher than average income. The one I like best is New Star managed distribution fund, run by Theodora Zemek assisted by James Gledhill. This fund invests around 60 per cent of its assets in bonds and around 35 per cent in equities, with the balance in cash.

Zemek and Gledhill are brilliant at selecting sub-investment-grade bonds, which account for nearly 40 per cent of the portfolio, with the rest mainly in BBB bonds and nothing at all in AAA bonds.

The equity portion is run by top performing manager Toby Thompson. Banks form large parts of this portion, with significant holdings in transport and engineering.

The performance since launch in March 2003 is over 23 per cent and the fund has done particularly well in the last six months, being second in the cautious managed sector.

The yield is over 5 per cent so this fund is attractive for conservative investors who want an income. It is a much better bet than a long-term building society investment.

The fund is widely spread, with nearly 200 holdings, so investors should be able to sleep at night. It is an ideal Isa investment for the middle-aged and the elderly who do not want to take on too much risk.

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