Less than 3 per cent of mainstream funds have achieved top-quartile performance over each of the past three years, according to research by Credit Suisse Asset Management.
In an analysis of the 10 most popular unit trust and Oeic sectors, CSAM identified just 22 funds from a universe of 853 which had been top quartile over the three years to the end of October.
Only 95, or 11 per cent, had maintained even above average performance for the period.
CSAM says the figures illustrate a sharp decline in fund consistency over recent years and highlight the difficulty in picking strong performers.
The least consistent sector was North America, with just five out of 82 funds consistently above average over three years and only one fund -Govett US opportunities – consistently topquartile. The UK gilt and Japan sectors have no funds which have been top quartile over each of the past three years.
The most consistent sector was global bonds, with eight of 33 funds above average and three consistently top quartile over the past three years.
CSAM director Robert Burdett, who manages the firm's multi-manager service, says: “Consistency has got worse and these figures may be hitting a peak at the moment, with more fund managers moving around and extreme swings between investment styles. But I think consistency is likely to remain poor and for that reason qualitative research is vital.”