Best Vanguard Investments UK This Year: A Comprehensive Guide to the Top Performing Funds

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Vanguard, a leader in the investment industry, has disrupted the UK funds and platforms with its low-cost approach. This has forced competitors to lower their fees or risk losing customers. But did you know that you don’t have to be on Vanguard’s platform to invest in their funds? In this article, we will explore the best Vanguard funds in the UK and provide valuable insights into their performance, risk, and fees.

Key Points:

  • Investing is not just about high returns; it’s also about considering the risks involved and minimizing fees.
  • Vanguard funds have consistently performed well over the last decade, with US funds leading the way.
  • Different asset classes have different risk and return profiles.
  • Life Strategy funds are a popular option as they provide a diversified portfolio in one fund.
  • However, the UK overweight in these funds may not be ideal for long-term performance.
  • Replicating the Life Strategy funds using other Vanguard funds can offer a cheaper alternative.
  • Vanguard provides a range of active funds, but their fees tend to be higher compared to passive funds.
  • The total cost of ownership includes both fund management fees and platform fees.

Understanding Returns and Risk

When considering the best Vanguard funds, it’s important to understand the relationship between returns and risk. While high returns are desirable, they often come with higher risks. It’s important to find a balance between the two to achieve optimal performance.

Over the last decade, Vanguard’s US funds have generated the highest returns, averaging around 15% annually. Funds with exposure to global small caps and Japan have also performed well. On the other hand, fixed income funds, such as bonds, have generated lower returns as they are primarily chosen for their stability rather than high returns.

To assess risk, volatility is often used as a measure. Funds with high volatility tend to be more risky, as they experience larger price fluctuations. The safest funds with low volatility are typically fixed income funds, while higher risk funds are often associated with emerging market stocks and certain bond funds.

Evaluating Life Strategy Funds

Life Strategy funds are popular among investors as they provide a diversified portfolio in one fund. These funds allocate investments across global equities and bonds, with the risk level determined by the percentage of stocks in the portfolio.

However, one drawback of Life Strategy funds is their significant overweighting of UK stocks. The UK market represents only a small portion of the global equity market, yet Life Strategy funds allocate a much higher percentage to UK stocks. This may not be ideal for long-term performance, especially considering the UK’s historic underperformance.

Replicating the Life Strategy Funds

To avoid the UK overweight and potentially reduce fees, investors can consider replicating the Life Strategy funds using other Vanguard funds. By doing so, they can customize their portfolio allocation and focus more on global equity. This approach can be more cost-effective, with management fees as low as 0.12%.

While it requires additional effort to rebalance the portfolio, the potential benefits of reducing fees and optimizing the asset allocation may outweigh the added work.

Future Return Expectations

It’s important to note that future returns are uncertain, and Vanguard’s 10-year Outlook provides a model-based prediction of potential returns for various asset classes. According to the outlook, the UK is not expected to outperform funds outside of the UK, with an expected return of 5.6% per year. Emerging Market Equity unhedged is predicted to generate the highest return at 8.2%.

In terms of fixed income funds, Emerging Market Sovereign bonds and UK corporate bond funds are predicted to generate attractive returns. The outlook also suggests that the US equity market may underperform other markets, with ex-US equity expected to generate higher returns.

Cost Considerations

Vanguard funds are known for their low management fees, making them an attractive option for cost-conscious investors. The passive funds offered by Vanguard have total expense ratios lower than 0.3% per year, well below the threshold considered expensive for UK funds.

However, it’s important to consider the total cost of ownership, which includes not only the fund management fees but also the fees associated with holding the funds on a specific platform. Different platforms may have varying fee structures, so it’s worth comparing the overall costs before making a decision.

Active vs. Passive Funds

Vanguard also offers a suite of active funds, where fund managers aim to outperform the market. However, these active funds tend to have higher fees compared to their passive counterparts. For cost-conscious investors, it may be more advisable to stick with the low-cost passive funds.


Vanguard offers a range of high-quality funds with low fees, making them an attractive choice for investors in the UK. When considering the best Vanguard funds, it’s important to evaluate performance, risk, and fees. Replicating the Life Strategy funds using other Vanguard funds can provide a cheaper alternative and allows for customization of the portfolio. However, it’s crucial to consider the potential risks associated with the significant UK overweight in these funds. Additionally, aligning your investment strategy with future return expectations can help guide your decision-making process. Ultimately, by carefully evaluating the available options, investors can make informed decisions to achieve their financial goals.