The median performance of UK equity and property pooled pension funds in first quarter of 1997 had a hard time matching their re-presentative indices, according to the latest figures in the CAPS quarterly investment performance survey.

But both cash and bond funds acquitted themselves well.

The best sector performer on the UK equity side were smaller companies funds, where the median 5.8% re-turn compared with the market index's 6.6%. The best performer of the 20 funds covered was the £12m ($19.5m) Guardian Smaller Companies fund with 16.8%.

For the 55 'Standard' UK equity funds, the return for those in the upper quartile was 6.0%, not far from the median 5.1%. The best performers included the £58m Swiss Life fund, returning 10.1%, and the £8m Commercial Unions's Cudos.

The 'All Active' UK Equity sector (no index tracker funds) numbered 79, including both above categories, with median re-turns of 5.2% (see table).

The median return for the 48 funds investing in UK bonds was 1.2% and out-performed the FTSE A All Stock Gilts' return of 1.1%. In pole position, the £1m Prolific Protector 98% produced 2.8% returns and with its same-sized stable mate Prolific Protector 100%, they flanked second-placed Ivory & Sime's £7m fund which rose 2.6%.

On the cash funds, the me-dian performers matched the index 1.4%, but four out of the 28 funds yielded 1.6%. Median property fund re-turns of 2.2% came in below the benchmark of 2.8%, reached by the upper quartile performers. Leaders were the £22m Abbotstone Agricultural fund with 18.9%, £1m AMP Asset Management with 6.0% and the £129m Kleinwort Benson fund with 5.5%.

Fennell Betson