- Legal & General is one of the UK’s leading providers of passive funds
- We view this fund as an excellent option for accessing a broad range of global markets
- A low-cost and simple way to track the FTSE World (ex UK) Index
- This fund currently features on our Wealth Shortlist of funds chosen by our analysts for their long-term performance potential
How it fits in a portfolio
The Legal & General International Index Trust offers investors broad exposure to global markets and sectors while excluding the UK. This includes a range of companies in both developed and advanced, although still higher-risk, emerging markets. An index tracker fund is one of the simplest ways to invest, and we think this fund could be a great, low-cost starting point for a portfolio aiming to deliver long term growth. It could be used to provide international diversification to an investment portfolio already focused on the UK.
Legal & General has been running index tracker funds longer than most. It’s also one of the largest providers of tracker funds and has the biggest index team in the UK. That means it’s got the resources and expertise to track indices as closely as possible, and the scale to keep charges to a minimum.
Each equity index fund at Legal & General has a primary and secondary manager, though in practice the team as a whole helps to manage each fund. Alongside the wider team, Sacha Mirza is the primary manager responsible for a range of funds within both the UK and global equity regions. Sacha joined Legal & General in 2013 after previously working at UBS for 10 years and has significant index fund management experience. The secondary manager for this fund is Robert Dowling who joined Legal & General in 2010 after working for State Street Global Advisors as a fund manager, specialising in Asia-Pacific and global emerging markets.
This fund tracks the performance of a basket of global markets, as measured by the FTSE World ex UK Index. It's currently made up of around 2400 companies, focused on sectors such as software & computer services, technology hardware & equipment and pharmaceuticals & biotechnology. While the fund diversifies across global markets, it’s still heavily weighted in US companies which make up approximately 60% of the portfolio. This is determined by the underlying index the fund is tracking.
The fund aims to invest in every company in the FTSE World ex UK Index and in the same proportion. However, this is not always possible because it's difficult to buy and sell the smallest companies quickly or at low cost, and this could ultimately impact performance. This is known as optimised replication and helps to closely match the performance of the index. The fund currently invests in 96% of the index’s constituents leaving out those smaller positions. Derivatives may be used to help manage the fund efficiently, which can add risk. However, these usually make up a very small part of the portfolio.
Legal & General is a conservative tracker fund manager. For example, they don't lend investments like some other companies do.
Legal & General has continued to develop their passive fund range over the years. It has around £400bn invested in this part of the business, allowing it to offer a wide range of index-tracking options. It’s built a team of experienced passive fund specialists and they’re innovative too. If an index doesn’t exist for a sector they’d like to track, they’ll often work with index providers like FTSE to create one so they can track it.
We also admire Legal & General’s commitment to encouraging good corporate practices among the companies they invest in. They proactively engage with businesses and use proxy voting rights to highlight important matters like environmental, social and governance issues.
The team running this fund works closely with various equity and risk departments across the business. We believe this provides support and adds challenge where appropriate.
The fund has an annual ongoing annual fund charge of 0.13%, but a discount of 0.05% is available for HL investors, which reduces the charge to 0.08%. We believe this is good value when compared with other global passive funds. Our platform charge of up to 0.45% per annum also applies.
The Legal & General International Index Trust fund aims to track the FTSE World ex UK and has done so well since launch in 2008. As you would expect from an index tracker fund, it’s fallen behind the benchmark over the long term because of the costs involved in running the fund. However, the tools used by the managers have helped to keep performance as close to the index as possible and reduced the fund’s tracking error to an average of 0.07% per annum before fees, in the last 10 years.
Given Legal & General’s size, experience and expertise running index tracker funds, we expect the fund to continue to track the index well in the future, though there are no guarantees.
A glance at the five-year performance table below shows in some years the fund has tracked the index closer than others. On occasion it has even ended up slightly ahead of the index due to the strategies used by the team, although this won't necessarily happen in future and isn’t an aim of the fund. Remember, past performance isn’t a guide to future returns.
|Annual percentage growth|
| Dec 15 -
| Dec 16 -
| Dec 17 -
| Dec 18 -
| Dec 19 -
|Legal & General International Index||30.3%||12.7%||-4.2%||23.5%||13.5%|
|FTSE World ex UK TR GBP||30.4%||13.5%||-2.7%||23.1%||14.2%|
Past performance is not a guide to the future. Source: Lipper IM to 31/12/2020.