Are most investment fund managers criminal thiefs

Top of the pile was Unicorn, a small “boutique” firm that spends little on advertising.

The firm’s Unicorn UK Income fund, managed by Fraser Mackersie and Simon Moon, was recently rated the best fund in the sector by the widely followed Sanlam Income Study “White List”, which takes account of total returns, yield paid and volatility.

Second place was taken by Stewart Investors, which was rated as one of the best emerging-market fund houses, while the bronze medal went to Old Mutual Global Investors.

Five fund groups achieved outperformance for all of their funds over the past five years: Unicorn, Stewart Investors, T Rowe Price, Rathbones and SVM. The majority of firms in the top 10 were specialists in either one or two areas, rather than being jacks of all trades. It was also easier for boutiques with fewer funds to come higher up the list.

The second table shows how last year’s top 10 fared. Nine out of 10 groups went on to outperform over the following 12 months by an average of 3.5pc.