As good as the U.S. equity markets have been this year, the best returns could be found overseas.

Indeed, of the 20 top mutual funds with at least $500 million in assets, 12 were focused on foreign assets, with 10 even more narrowly focused on emerging markets. Of the other eight funds, six were focused on tech.

Overall, these short-term winners have posted returns ranging up to 57% year to date.

The eye-popping returns haven’t come cheap. Expense ratios ranged from 54 basis points to 1.58%, with an average of 1.08%. With emerging markets investments, higher expenses are often expected, but can be a shock to some in an era of ever-declining fees.

To be sure, many advisors and clients found healthy gains in the inexpensive world of passive investing. The S&P 500 ETF from Vanguard has returned more than 19% year to date at a cost of just 4 basis points.

To check out this year’s winners – plus how they’ve fared over three years – click through the list. All data from Morningstar.
20. JHancock Emerging Markets Equity (JEMGX)
YTD Return: 41.94%
3-Yr. Return: N/A
Expense Ratio: 1.18%
Net Assets (millions): $1,074
19. Columbia Seligman Global Tech (SHGTX)
YTD Return: 42.13%
3-Yr. Return: 22.75%
Expense Ratio: 1.37%
Net Assets (millions): $1,251
18. Franklin DynaTech (FKDNX)
YTD Return: 42.43%
3-Yr. Return: 15.22%
Expense Ratio: 0.91%
Net Assets (millions): $4,334
17. Ivy Emerging Markets Equity (IPOAX)
YTD Return: 42.93%
3-Yr. Return: 10.61%
Expense Ratio: 1.58%
Net Assets (millions): $2,035
16. Vanguard International Growth Inv (VWIGX)
YTD Return: 43.70%
3-Yr. Return: 11.21%
Expense Ratio: 0.46%
Net Assets (millions): $32,928
15. City National Rochdale Emerg Mkts (RIMIX)
YTD Return: 44.14%
3-Yr. Return: 11.14%
Expense Ratio: 1.63%
Net Assets (millions): $1,698
14. Fidelity Emerging Asia (FSEAX)
YTD Return: 44.38%
3-Yr. Return: 11.66%
Expense Ratio: 1.16%
Net Assets (millions): $1,286
13. American Century Emerging Markets Inv (TWMIX)
YTD Return: 44.79%
3-Yr. Return: 10.70%
Expense Ratio: 1.29%
Net Assets (millions): $1,585
12. Transamerica Capital Growth (IALAX)
YTD Return: 44.89%
3-Yr. Return: 15.03%
Expense Ratio: 1.23%
Net Assets (millions): $856
11. Fidelity Emerging Markets (FEMKX)
YTD Return: 44.91%
3-Yr. Return: 8.69%
Expense Ratio: 1.01%
Net Assets (millions): $4,850
10. VALIC Company I Science & Technology (VCSTX)
YTD Return: 45.82%
3-Yr. Return: 18.28%
Expense Ratio: 0.99%
Net Assets (millions): $1,310
9. VanEck Emerging Markets (GBFAX)
YTD Return: 46.88%
3-Yr. Return: 6.27%
Expense Ratio: 1.53%
Net Assets (millions): $1,894
8. Janus Henderson Global Technology (JAGTX)
YTD Return: 47.25%
3-Yr. Return: 20.28%
Expense Ratio: 0.95%
Net Assets (millions): $2,290
7. Baillie Gifford EAFE 3 (BGEUX)
YTD Return: 48.38%
3-Yr. Return: N/A
Expense Ratio: 0.54%
Net Assets (millions): $2,966
6. T. Rowe Price Global Technology (PRGTX)
YTD Return: 50.98%
3-Yr. Return: 23.71%
Expense Ratio: 0.90%
Net Assets (millions): $6,177
5. Oppenheimer Global Opportunities (OPGIX)
YTD Return: 51.10%
3-Yr. Return: 22.83%
Expense Ratio: 1.19%
Net Assets (millions): $6,872
4. Fidelity China Region (FHKCX)
YTD Return: 51.35%
3-Yr. Return: 11.34%
Expense Ratio: 1.02%
Net Assets (millions): $1,381
3. Baillie Gifford Emerging Markets (BGEDX)
YTD Return: 54.12%
3-Yr. Return: N/A
Expense Ratio: 0.71%
Net Assets (millions): $2,066
2. Fidelity Select Technology (FSPTX)
YTD Return: 56.47%
3-Yr. Return: 22.93%
Expense Ratio: 0.77%
Net Assets (millions): $6,683
1. Matthews China Investor (MCHFX)
YTD Return: 57.60%
3-Yr. Return: 14.22%
Expense Ratio: 1.18%
Net Assets (millions): $902