INVESTMENT savings plans must be viewed as a medium to long-term proposition to gain maximum benefit. This point has been brought home strongly by the economic turmoil in Southeast Asia over the past few months. Anyone taking a short-term view and having started in about mid-year would now be wondering about the security of their investments and whether, indeed, there was a future. Joseph Yam, vice-president and head of Vista Capital Management for the Chase Manhattan Bank, said the investor must look at a period of about five years. 'The popular thing in Hong Kong is to look at something like 24 months,' he said. 'This is nowhere near long enough.' He suggested that four to five years was a better proposition if the investor was to see anything like an appropriate level of return. This was essentially because of the cyclical nature of markets, again an obvious reference to the economic turmoil in Southeast Asia. Funds also gave investors leverage they would not otherwise have in terms of buying power so that his or her dollars had the backing of similar investors globally. Mr Lam described this concept as something like 'bulk buying'. There also had to be the right balance of bonds, equities and even cash but on the balance with a correctly managed fund there should be a substantial return. Mr Lam said there should be some flexibility for the investor so that he or she was covered for those inevitable emergencies that cropped up. That way the savings investment plan was not penalised and the investor had the capacity to 'skip a month' if need be. The advantage of a scheme such as Vista Funds, with the backing of the Chase Manhattan, was its global reach with expertise on the ground in dozens of countries, Mr Lam said. It would be a brave investor who would step into the unknown and put money into an unknown venture on an unknown continent. But bigger organisations with global reach had the local expertise to make the right returns, he said. Such expertise ensured an 'edge' for example, according to figures from Micropal, as at August 29. Chase Manhattan Vista Latin America Equities Fund ranked number one within its own category of Latin American Funds with a three-year cumulative return of 60.21 per cent. Chase Manhattan Vista US Government Bond Fund ranked number one in its own category with a three- year cumulative return of 21.6 per cent. Mr Lam said that sort of return was possible with the right kind of management and that an investment should have elements of both managed risk and a more conservative approach. He said the Chase-managed asset portfolio could be tailored to meet the needs of individual investors. There could be a global growth portfolio, global balanced portfolio, global income portfolio, or a US balanced portfolio. He said there were distinct advantages to this approach: Your investment was being managed on a daily basis to capture the opportunities arising in both bond and equity markets. 'Since the mutual funds are valued daily, your investment is totally liquid and can be redeemed daily.' He said there was an additional bonus. 'Your investment is offshore and domiciled in Luxembourg where no capital gains tax is levied.'