iShares ETFs

Discover the best performing iShares ETFs, how to invest in them and whether they are typically a good pick for UK investors.

Best performing iShares ETFs See top ETFs
Are iShares ETFs a good investment? Learn more

Although you may not be completely familiar with iShares, you’ve likely heard of the company that controls and manages the brand – BlackRock. To summarise, the iShare ETFs (exchanged-traded funds) are some of the most popular options in the UK, and can be found on most top share dealing platforms.

To give you a better idea about iShares and the investment fund options available, we’ll explain exactly what the iShares ETFs cover and if you can invest in specific sectors like renewable energy. We’re also going to look at how the top iShares ETFs compare and ultimately find out whether the iShares ETFs are any good.

Best performing iShares ETFs

If you want to check out the top-performing iShares ETFs, take a look at the iShares ETF options below. Just keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily the top iShares ETFs to buy today. Past performance doesn’t dictate future results, so the under-performers may do well over the next few years.

Table: sorted by 5-year performance based on data from JustETF.com (to 4 June 2024)
IconFund5-year performanceYTD performance (to 4 June 2024)Link to invest
iShares iconiShares S&P 500 Information Technology Sector UCITS ETF USD (Acc) (IITU)228.86%17.72%Invest with Hargreaves LansdownCapital at risk
iShares iconiShares Nasdaq 100 UCITS ETF (Acc) (CNX1)168.00%9.94%Invest with InvestEngineCapital at risk
iShares icon iShares MSCI Japan USD Hedged UCITS ETF (Acc) (IJPD)127.55%21.41%Invest with CMC InvestCapital at risk
iShares icon iShares MSCI Taiwan UCITS ETF (ITWN)127.03%13.06%Invest with XTBCapital at risk
iShares icon iShares MSCI Japan GBP Hedged UCITS ETF (Acc) (IJPH)117.87%21.54%Invest with IJPHCapital at risk

What is iShares?

This brand was originally owned by Barclays but was bought by BlackRock in 2009. The first ETFs from iShares were launched in 1996 and its funds were one of the only ways to invest in developing and emerging markets (like Mexico and Brazil).

In 2002, iShares launched the first bond ETFs. Then in 2005, iShares created sustainable ETFs and funds that covered renewable energy along with early iterations of ESG ETFs, long before it was trendy. So this is a company that’s been at the very forefront of developing the ETF market.

Today, with continued innovation in the ETF space, iShares now manages the assets of over 100 million people worldwide, with over $2.5 trillion worth of AUM (Assets Under Management).

Types of ETFs iShares offers

The choice of iShares exchange-traded funds available to UK investors is continuously growing. To give you a better idea of the iShares ETFs you can buy in the UK, here is a list of the top options available:

  • Core ETFs (passive index-tracking, global equity, emerging markets, developed markets)
  • Megatrend ETFs (thematic investing like infrastructure, cybersecurity, AI, biotech, AgTech, EVs, etc.)
  • Fixed income ETFs (corporate bonds, emerging market bonds, and government bonds)
  • Sustainable ETFs (ESG, clean and renewable energy)
  • Factors ETFs (goal-specific ETFs)
  • Commodity ETFs (precious metals ETCs and commodity swaps)
  • Real Estate ETFs
  • Dividend ETFs

In total, just under 1,000 iShares ETFs are available to invest in from the UK. The options cover a broad range of markets, industries, and sectors – increasing the chances that there’s a good iShares ETF covering a basket of investments that fit in with your strategy.

How to invest in iShares ETFs

One of the great things about ETFs is that you can invest in them through many different share dealing platforms. So, if you’re in the UK and want to get started investing in the top iShares ETFs, here’s a simple step-by-step guide:
  1. Research iShares ETFs. It’s important to take some time to find the right iShares ETF to invest in. There are hundreds to choose from, and finding the best iShares ETF for your individual investing goals will be a personal decision.
  2. Find a platform. Only some brokers will give you access to the whole range of iShares ETFs. So, it’s worth checking to see which investing platform will let you invest in the particular iShares ETF you want to buy.
  3. Fund your account. Once you’ve picked a fund that suits your investing strategy and found a suitable trading platform to buy your ETF, deposit funds is next.
  4. Buy the iShares ETF. With funds ready in your account, it’s time to buy your chosen ETF. The great thing about ETFs is that you get exposure to a whole basket of investments in one single transaction. This can save you a lot of money if your brokerage charges you a commission for buying shares.

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Are iShares ETFs a good investment?

It depends on the specific iShares ETF you buy. The performance of each exchange-traded fund can vary wildly because each will have different aims and track various investments.

That being said, iShares ETFs are sometimes a good option for two reasons. First, most come with extremely competitive fees (especially the core passive ETFs). Secondly, iShares ETFs allow you to invest in markets, stocks, and industries that most other ETF providers cannot match.

No investment is guaranteed to perform. But, you will give yourself a good chance of success with iShares ETFs because in most cases, you can diversify and be creative while paying low ongoing charges.

Are iShares ETFs safe?

Yes. In the UK, the company that controls iShares, BlackRock, is authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). The company is also covered by Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so deposits of up to £85,000 will be returned should something happen to iShares (this doesn’t cover your investment choices losing value). Although, it’s also worth checking that you’re using a regulated brokerage that comes with FSCS protection when investing and buying your iShares ETFs.

All iShares ETFs in the UK comply with the UCITS (Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities) regulation. This was a regulatory framework set out by the EU that the UK has kept post-Brexit.

On top of this, BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world. The firm has close to 10 trillion dollars worth of assets under management (AUM). It’s important to remember that although you’re investing in assets through an iShares ETF, you’re the person that legally owns the investments held within the fund you buy.

Pros and cons of iShares ETFs

Pros
  • Low fees for index-tracking ETFs
  • Huge choice of ETF investments and assets
  • Managed by the world’s biggest asset manager (BlackRock)
Cons
  • Vast range of choices can mean more research on your part
  • Some ETFs and actively managed choices involve higher fees
  • You can’t find the full selection on every investment platform

Bottom line

Using the full range of iShares ETFs is a good way to put your money to work in almost every type of asset class you can imagine. This company is always expanding its choice of ETFs, meaning you can find one to suit most investing styles or strategies. Also, because iShares is part of BlackRock, most ETFs benefit from economies of scale, meaning you can still get low fees.

So, are the iShares ETFs a good choice? In short, yes. However, there are hundreds to choose from and picking out the top iShares ETFs will involve plenty of research and a healthy slice of market knowledge. You can opt for the low-cost, broad market, passive ETFs, tracking indices such as the S&P 500 or the FTSE 100. But if you want to, you can invest in renewable energy or even artificial intelligence with an iShares ETF. Whatever you decide, take the time to find the right iShares ETFs for your goals and risk appetite.

FAQs

Can you lose money investing in iShares ETFs?

Yes. Like with any investment, returns are never guaranteed. The benefit of using an ETF is that it’s easier to diversify, which can reduce volatility and, in some cases – minimise losses (but not always).

Do iShares ETFs pay dividends?

Some do. It will depend on your choice of ETF. You can read about this in the KID (Key Information Document) for the investment. Another thing to be aware of is that some iShares ETFs will be accumulation (meaning dividends are rolled back into the fund), and others are distribution (meaning dividends will be paid out into your account as cash).

Are there any ethical ETFs on offer?

Yes, iShares was one of the first companies to offer sustainable ETFs covering clean and renewable energy sectors. Today, iShares still has a growing selection of ethical and ESG-certified ETFs. You can find them by heading to the iShares website and filtering for “sustainable”, there are roughly 231 ETFs in this category.

Are iShares ETFs good for beginners?

It depends on which ETF you choose. Generally speaking, the broad index-tracking ETFs offered by iShares are some of the best investments for beginners. Because they’re easy to understand, cheap, and a useful way to passively invest (minimising how much research you need to do). However, some of the more complex ETFs on offer from iShares covering niche sectors may not be a good option for beginners.

How many ETFs does iShares have?

A total of 962 iShares ETFs are currently available in the UK. However, your investment platform may not let you access all the options so it’s worth finding the right brokerage.

Are iShares ETFs actively managed?
Some are, but mostly not. In total, 9 actively managed ETFs are available from iShares, but the bulk of its exchange-traded funds are passive.
What is the best iShares ETF?
Based on its 5 year performance, iShares S&P 500 Information Technology Sector ETF is the best iShares ETF at the moment.
Are iShares the same as ETFs?

No, iShares is just the name of the brand that creates and manages these investment funds, whereas an ETF (exchange-traded fund) is the name for the type of investment.

All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please seek out a financial adviser. Capital at risk.

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