NEW unit trust investors will be better off putting their cash into regional or global funds rather than single-country schemes, fund managers say. This is because unit trusts, which have holdings in different countries, spread the risk for investors, making it unnecessary for them to make decisions on moving in or out of a market. Unlike fund managers, most small investors do not have access to market information and are unable to decide on buying and selling opportunities. Schroders Investment Management director David Lui said as a result it was far better for them to opt for a regional fund which was invested in a large number of countries. The numerous single-country schemes authorised in Hong Kong are for investors who are knowledgeable and have access to market information. These funds allow sophisticated investors greater control over portfolios because they can then make their own asset allocations. Thornton Management's managing director Christopher Day said a single-country fund allowed an investor to be far more aggressive. It also enabled them to be more aware of when to be in and out of the market. 'With a regional fund, you can just buy it and leave the asset allocation, or choice of countries, to people who spend nine hours a day looking at individual markets,' he said. 'With single-country funds, you are taking much more of a specific risk, whereas, with a regional fund, you are getting diversification. A lot of the markets did not move together, therefore the volatility aspect was reduced. 'You have more diversification in terms of stocks and industries and a regional fund is more appropriate as a foundation investment,' Mr Day said. 'What we tend to find is that many people have their core investment in a regional fund like our Tiger Fund, which is their long-term commitment to Asia. Then they will put a little bit extra into a single-country fund which they are optimistic about. They can use the single-country fund as a kind of Asian stock market, without having to worry about individual stock selection.' Templeton director Stewart Aldcroft supports investment in regional or global funds. 'Our belief is that you can miss the best opportunities by moving from one market to another too quickly,' he said. Fidelity Investment Management's marketing director Lisa Popick said choosing a single-country or global fund depended on the investor. 'You can't really beat the convenience of investing in a fund, rather than trying to find a broker to buy stocks in that country,' she said. 'But new investors should really stick to the regional funds.' Jardine Fleming director of investment services Cynthia Liu agreed that single-country funds provided advantages to sophisticated investors who had access to market information. 'But if an investor does not have that broad-based information or market knowledge, then I think they would be better off investing in a regional fund and leaving the asset allocation up to the fund manager,' she said. 'If someone was looking for good growth prospects over the next two years, without having to worry about whether they should be underweight or overweight in a particular market, then the Asian Special Situations Fund would be a good fund to be invested in. The fund manager will decide on which markets to invest in.' Ms Liu said seven per cent of the local population had invested in funds. 'We are cautious on Mexico, although we see some opportunities in Latin America. There are also a lot of opportunities in Asian emerging markets,' she said.