£9bn languishing in poorly performing 'dog' funds

Not one of these underperforming funds has offered investors a refund of charges, or reduced their annual management fees.

Mr Lowcock added: "Charges remain a key concern to investors and, with dog fund managers taking home £133m a year, it is hardly surprising that investors are concerned about fees.

"Investors simply can't afford to leave their precious savings languishing in dog funds and wait for the fund managers to do something about it."

The report highlights which funds investors should consider quitting – and suggest alternatives.

The funds that investors are urged to ditch include M&G's Dividend fund, Schroders' UK Mid 50 and Standard Life's UK Equity High Income, as well as the St James's Place International fund, which has more than £477m invested in it.

The four Scottish Widows "dog" funds are Global Select Growth, SWIP UK Income, UK Growth and UK Equity High Income.

Smaller companies, such as CanLife and GAM, were highlighted for having a large proportion of their assets under management in "dog" funds. In total 53pc of GAM assets and 41pc of CanLife assets were underperforming by a significant margin.

However, the report did point out that there were now fewer funds that met its "dog" criteria, and the total amount invested in these funds had also shrunk – not just because of poor performance, but also because evidence suggested that fed-up investors were withdrawing their cash.

Andy Brough, the manager of the Schroder UK Mid 250 fund, said: "Like Arsène Wenger we had a great five years from launch to 2005 and as you can see from the numbers it [the fund] hasn't won anything for the last five years."

"Having come through this difficult period the fund is now full of very cheap stocks and I am convinced it will be back to its winning ways this year. While crude market declines can seem unsettling, they do not affect the long-term attractiveness of our chosen businesses.

"We have experienced volatile markets before but long-term performance over 10 years remains exceptional." He added that the fund had made a strong start this year, and other Schroders funds were commended in the report for their strong performance.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Widows said: "SWIP [Scottish Widows' fund management arm] is committed to delivering excellent performance across all its funds and has taken steps to address the performance of the funds mentioned in this survey. We are encouraged that changes we have made to date have led to a reduction in the number of our funds included in the survey."

A spokesman for M&G said it was disappointed to have a fund in the list. She said: "The report also highlights that a number of our funds are 'best of breed' and should be considered for those looking to switch."

She said the company had taken steps to improve performance, merging the Dividend fund with another and appointing a new manager in 2010. "This has been a rough three years for UK equities and we are confident that this fund will come back on track and performance will improve."

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