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Funds Suffer £4.5 Billion In Outflows As Economic Woes Intensify – Forbes Advisor UK


The latest news from the world of investing. If you have an investment story, email: amichael@forbesadvisor.com

4 August: Equity Portfolios The Main Casualty As Investors Pull Money In Near Record Amounts

UK investors pulled out £4.5 billion from investment funds in June this year, the largest monthly withdrawal of 2022 and the second highest figure on record, according to the latest figures from the Investment Association (IA), an industry body.

The IA said investors were responding to intensifying economic uncertainty following a challenging first half of the year for market performance.

Last month, the US market officially moved into bear market territory when the influential S&P 500, recorded a 20% drop in value since the beginning of 2022.

The IA said that equity funds experienced outflows worth £2.3 billion in June. Within this cohort, the largest sector casualty was globally diversified portfolios, with investors pulling out money to the tune of £1.3 billion.

In contrast, so-called volatility managed funds, which aim to deliver positive returns to investors by investing in a blend of assets including equities, bonds and cash, were the IA’s best-selling sector in June, with net retail inflows worth £248 million.

Chris Cummings, IA chief executive, said: “Savers are pre-empting slowing economic growth and preparing for further interest rate rises as we enter new territory for markets. Higher rates mean a weaker performance outlook for the high-growth companies that helped to fuel the bull market of the last decade.”

“This month’s equity fund outflows indicate that investors are looking at ways to better balance their savings,” Cummings  added.

[ ] Assets under management in the European fund industry fell by £1.7 trillion (€2 trillion) from £12.8 trillion (€15.3 trillion) to £11.1 trillion (€13.3 trillion) over the first half of 2022, according to the latest figures from data provider Refinitiv Lipper.

Detlef Glow, head of EMEA research at Refinitiv Lipper, said: “It was no surprise that the European fund industry faced declining assets under management over the course of the year 2022 so far, as the geo-political situation in Europe, the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, disrupted delivery chains, increasing inflation, and interest rate hikes put some pressure on the securities markets.”

3 August: Less Than 1% Of Funds Delivered Top Performance Over 3 Years – Columbia Threadneedle

Just four investment portfolios, a record low, delivered top quartile performance over a rolling three-year period to the end of June this year, according to the latest figures from fund manager Columbia Threadneedle, writes Andrew Michael.

A top quartile fund is one that ranks in the top 25% of its peer group based on investment performance.

Columbia Threadneedle’s quarterly Multi-Manager Fund Watch survey reviewed 1,153 portfolios across 12 major fund sectors – as defined by the Investment Association (IA) universe – assessing performance in each of three 12-month periods up to June this year.

The Multi-Manager Consistency Ratio, the toughest test within the research, looked for funds that were top quartile for each of these periods. Columbia Threadneedle found that, up to the end of the second quarter of 2022, just 0.35% of funds, four in total, proved up to the mark.

The funds in question were: Quilter Investors Sterling Diversified Bond; Matthews Asia Small Companies; Luxembourg Selection Active Solar; and Fidelity Japan. 

Each fund is located in a different IA sector, making it difficult to determine why these portfolios produced the requisite investment returns, while so many of their rivals languished over the same period.

Columbia Threadneedle said that the funds industry was experiencing a “challenging period”, with macro factors and geo-politics currently creating an “interesting environment for investment”.

Factors included the ongoing implications of the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, plus the impact of central banks’ decisions worldwide to hike interest rates in the face of stiff economic headwinds.

Kelly Prior, investment manager at Columbia Threadneedle said: “This quarter’s findings are unprecedented, demonstrating the extreme rotations that markets have been through in the last couple of years and how different flavours of investment have led markets at different times.”

She added: “While the data points make for hard reading, we believe the data does indicate that fund managers are holding their nerve and not trying to chase these very unusual markets.”

1 August: Mining, Banking And Oil Sectors Lead The Dividends Charge – For Now

Total dividends from UK-listed companies hit £37 billion in the second quarter of this year, an increase of more than a third compared with the same period in 2021, according to the latest figures from Link, the fund administration group, writes Andrew Michael.

Dividends are payouts to shareholders made by companies out of their profits. They provide an important source of income for investors, especially as part of a retirement planning strategy.

Link’s latest UK Dividend Monitor reported that the headline total for dividends rose year-on-year by 38.6% in the second quarter of this year.

The figure, driven by one-off special payments, was the second-largest quarterly total on record, eclipsed only by the amount companies paid out to shareholders between the months of April to June in 2019.

Link said that dividends from mining companies accounted for nearly a quarter of all payments made to shareholders during the second quarter of this year, the largest proportion from any industrial sector. In addition to mining, banks and oil companies make up the UK’s three largest dividend-paying sectors.

Link added that sectors including housebuilders, industrial goods, media, travel and general financials each also had a strong second quarter, thanks to strong profit growth offering a boost to dividend payouts in the wake of the pandemic.

In light of this, the company said it was upgrading its UK plc dividend forecast for the full year with headline payouts expected to rise by 2.4% to £96.3 billion.

Link warned, however, that next year could prove more of a challenge to companies looking to further  increase their dividend payments as economic conditions increasingly take a turn for the worse and the conflict in Ukraine continues unabated.

Ian Stokes, managing director, corporate markets UK and Europe at Link, said: “Mining payouts are closely linked to the cyclical fluctuations in mining profits, and tend to rise and fall much more over that cycle than dividends from other industries.”

He added: “As we move into 2023, headwinds will strengthen. The easy post-pandemic catch-up effects are soon to wash entirely out of the figures, and an economic recession will crimp the ability and willingness of many companies to grow dividends.”

20 July: Perceived Risk Of Lower ESG Returns Proves A Turn-Off For Investors 

The majority of investors are unaware of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing, despite the shift to sustainability and increased concern about the impact investments are having on the planet, writes Andrew Michael.

According to research from financial advisers Foster Denovo, six in 10 investors (60%) said they were unfamiliar with the availability of specialist investment portfolios such as ESG funds.

However, Foster Denovo’s report, Investing with the Dynamic Portfolios: The latest research surrounding investors opinions on ESG investing, reveals signs of a growth in investor perception about the environment along with the impact made by their investments.

Once dismissed as a virtuous concept that potentially compromised portfolio returns, ESG investing has moved centre-stage within the global investment arena in recent years. 

According to Global Sustainability Investment Alliance, approximately £30 trillion in assets was being managed globally in accordance with ESG principles.

Foster Denovo said just over half (51%) of respondents either felt strongly or very strongly about the impact that climate change could have on their savings and investments.

In addition, nine in 10 (89%) said they were concerned about the impact that corporate practices and some large businesses were having on the environment.

A quarter (25%) of respondents told Foster Denovo that they had invested with ESG factors in mind. But the majority said they weren’t interested in ESG investments because of perceived lower returns from the sector compared with more traditional investment channels.

Foster Denovo described this response as “at odds with the majority of recent investment research which found that three-quarters of ESG-screened indices outperformed their broad market equivalents”.

Declan McAndrew, Foster Denovo’s head of investment research, said: “It’s clear that many people, including those not currently investing sustainably, are interested in and willing to learn more about ESG and want to put their money towards positively benefiting the planet as well as making returns.

“However, a lack of awareness about the availability of such products, what ESG means and a persistent misconception about lower returns are clearly having an impact.”

13 July: Gloves Off As Twitter Sues Musk For Ditching Takeover Bid

Twitter has carried through its threat to sue Elon Musk after the Tesla boss announced last week (see story below) that he is walking away from his £36.5 billion bid to buy the social media platform, writes Kevin Pratt.

In what looks set to be a lengthy and acrimonious legal battle – Twitter’s complaint filed with the Delaware Court of Chancery calls Mr Musk’s behaviour “a model of hypocrisy” – the main issues are the number of fake accounts on the platform, and the $1 billion break clause in the original contract.

Mr Musk is refusing to pay the sum, arguing that Twitter has not provided him with the information he needs to verify the number of genuine accounts.

The original offer for Twitter was at $54.20 per share but the stock is now trading below $35. Recent falls are attributed to Mr Musk’s announcement, but the price was already around the $40 per share mark before last weekend.

Twitter’s legal filing reads: “In April 2022, Elon Musk entered into a binding merger agreement with Twitter, promising to use his best efforts to get the deal done. Now, less than three months later, Musk refuses to honor his obligations to Twitter and its stockholders because the deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests.

“Having mounted a public spectacle to put Twitter in play, and having proposed and then signed a seller-friendly merger agreement, Musk apparently believes that he – unlike every other party subject to Delaware contract law – is free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away. 

“This repudiation follows a long list of material contractual breaches by Musk that have cast a pall over Twitter and its business. Twitter brings this action to enjoin Musk from further breaches, to compel Musk to fulfill his legal obligations, and to compel consummation of the merger upon satisfaction of the few outstanding conditions.”

In a tweet last night, Bret Taylor, Twitter chairman said: “Twitter has filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery to hold Elon Musk accountable to his contractual obligations.”

Mr Musk responded with a tweet of his own: “Oh the irony lol (laugh out loud)”.

Twitter’s filing to the Delaware court accuses Mr Musk of wanting to back out of the deal because of the drop in the stock market generally and the firm’s share price in particular: “After the merger agreement was signed, the market fell. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, the value of Musk’s stake in Tesla, the anchor of his personal wealth, has declined by more than $100 billion from its November 2021 peak.

“So Musk wants out. Rather than bear the cost of the market downturn, as the merger agreement requires, Musk wants to shift it to Twitter’s stockholders. This is in keeping with the tactics Musk has deployed against Twitter and its stockholders since earlier this year, when he started amassing an undisclosed stake in the company and continued to grow his position without required notification. 

“It tracks the disdain he has shown for the company that one would have expected Musk, as its would-be steward, to protect. Since signing the merger agreement, Musk has repeatedly disparaged Twitter and the deal, creating business risk for Twitter and downward pressure on its share price.”

The market awaits a fuller response from the Musk legal team in the coming days.

9 July: Two Sides At Loggerheads Over £36.5 Billion Takeover Contract

Elon Musk has told Twitter he is pulling out of the previously agreed £36.5 billion deal to buy the social media micro-blogging platform. Twitter says it is determined to complete the transaction on the original terms, writes Kevin Pratt.

A letter to Twitter, filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, says Mr Musk “is terminating the Merger Agreement because Twitter is in material breach of multiple provisions of that Agreement, appears to have made false and misleading representations upon which Mr. Musk relied when entering into the Merger Agreement, and is likely to suffer a Company Material Adverse Effect.”

Mr Musk effectively put the deal on ice in May while his team determined the number of ‘spam’ accounts on Twitter, arguing that he needed accurate information on the number of genuine users to determine the true value of the company.

The latest letter states: “For nearly two months, Mr. Musk has sought the data and information necessary to ‘make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform’. 

“This information is fundamental to Twitter’s business and financial performance and is necessary to consummate the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement because it is needed to ensure Twitter’s satisfaction of the conditions to closing, to facilitate Mr. Musk’s financing and financial planning for the transaction, and to engage in transition planning for the business. 

“Twitter has failed or refused to provide this information. Sometimes Twitter has ignored Mr. Musk’s requests, sometimes it has rejected them for reasons that appear to be unjustified, and sometimes it has claimed to comply while giving Mr. Musk incomplete or unusable information.”

Bret Taylor, Twitter’s chairman, said in a tweet that he is determined to complete the takeover on the original terms: “The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement. We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery.”

The dispute between the two camps is likely to be drawn out and acrimonious, not least because the contract includes a £1billion break clause, payable by either party if they withdraw without good reason.

Mr Musk will therefore try to show that the contract is no longer valid because of Twitter’s actions or lack of action, while the company will insist it has acted within the terms of the arrangement. As stated in Mr Taylor’s tweet, it will sue Mr Musk to enforce the deal.

Twitter shares fell by 5% when the news broke that the takeover is in jeopardy. In after-hours trading in New York, they stood at around $35 (£29). Mr Musk’s original offer was for $54.20 (£45) a share.

7 July: Investment Association Says Digital Ledgers Would Benefit Consumers

The UK’s asset management industry is calling on the government to create a new class of fund that incorporates blockchain technology, the digital process that underpins much of the cryptocurrency industry.

The Investment Association (IA), the trade body representing the UK’s investment management firms running nearly £10 trillion worldwide, has urged the government and the City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to work together “at pace” to approve blockchain-traded funds that would issue digital tokens to investors in place of traditional shares or fund units.

The IA says that the increasing adoption of so-called ‘tokenisation’ would ultimately reduce costs for consumers and improve efficiency in the delivery of funds, through quicker settlement and improved transparency of transactions.

It added that tokenisation may also broaden the assets held within a fund by increasing access to private markets and illiquid assets such as property, that cannot quickly or easily be converted into cash.

According to the IA, the landscape it envisages for funds of the future would offer consumers “more engagement and customisation, while maintaining important consumer protections”.

Greater variety

It added that this could include the provision of a greater variety of portfolios tailored to the specific needs of individual investors and a wider range of financial advice services to address the UK’s current advice gap.

Earlier this year, the Treasury, headed by Rishi Sunak MP, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a series of measures designed to elevate the UK into a global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment.

The FCA issues regular warnings to consumers about the crypto industry, reminding them that cryptoassets are unregulated and high-risk.

The regulator’s current stance on crypto as an investment is that investors “are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them”.

Chris Cummings, IA chief executive, said: “With the ever-quickening pace of technological change, the investment management industry, regulator and policymakers must work together to drive forward innovation without delay.

“Greater innovation will not only boost the overall competitiveness of the UK funds industry, but will improve the cost, efficiency and quality of the investment experience.”

5 July: Watchdog Unveils Recruits To Oversee Investment And Crypto Sectors

The UK’s financial watchdog has poached a director with specialist knowledge of economic crime and illicit finance from the National Crime Agency (NCA) for a new role overseeing the crypto-asset, e-money and payment markets.

The appointment is one of six new directorships revealed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as the regulator looks to beef up its top personnel covering traditional areas of investment, while burnishing its credentials amid calls for tougher oversight of the crypto sector.

Matthew Long will join the Financial Conduct Authority in October as director of payments and digital assets. Long is currently director of the National Economic Crime Command, part of the NCA.

He also led the UK Financial Intelligence Unit, which has national responsibility for receiving, analysing and disseminating financial intelligence through the Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) regime.

SARs are pieces of information that alert law enforcers that client or customer activity is suspicious and might indicate money laundering or terrorist financing.

Joining Long in October will be Camille Blackburn in the new role of director of wholesale buy-side. 

Ms Blackburn will be responsible for policy development and supervision across asset management, alternative investments, custody banks and investment research.

She is currently global chief compliance officer at Legal & General Investment Management. Prior to that she was chief compliance officer at Aviva Investors and was also chair of the Investment Association’s Brexit committee.

Four other new directors have also been appointed in the FCA’s latest hiring round, including former City of London economic crime co-ordinator, Karen Baxter, who joins as director of strategy, policy, international and intelligence.

Three internal promotions – Roma Pearson, director of consumer finance; Anthony Monaghan, director of retail and regulatory investigations; and Simon Walls, director of wholesale, sell-side – complete the appointments.

29 June: Investment Trust Dividends Soar To £5.5 billion

Dividends paid out by investment trusts hit a record high of £5.5 billion in the year to March 2022, propelled by payouts from privately-owned companies not listed on stock markets.

An investment trust is a public limited company, traded on the stock market, whose aim is to make money by investing in other companies. The investment trust sector has become increasingly popular with retail investors in recent years.

According to fund administration group Link, two-thirds of investment trust dividends paid over the 12 months to March focused on so-called ‘alternatives’. These include investments in venture capital, renewable energy infrastructure and property.

Link says the figures equate to an overall increase in dividends of 15% compared with the previous year.

It adds, however, that shareholder payments from investment trusts investing in company stocks flatlined over the period, accounting for £1.85 billion of the total payout. These equity investment trusts traditionally play a key role in the London-listed investment trust sector.

While dividends from alternative trusts have increased nine-fold over the past decade, Link forecasts that shareholder payments from equity trusts will grow more slowly than the market average over the coming year.

Ian Stokes, Link’s managing director, corporate markets UK and Europe, said: “Ten years ago, alternatives were a much smaller segment of the investment trust market, but they have rapidly expanded as new investment opportunities have opened up in response to investor demand.”

Richard Stone, chief executive of the Association of Investment Companies, the trade body representing investment trusts, said: “This report demonstrates that investment companies offer an abundance of benefits to income investors and have continued to do so through challenging market conditions.”

28 June: Platforms Sweeten Deal With Interest Payments

Competition has intensified among online trading platforms as they battle to retain client funds now that the boom in ‘armchair’ share trading during the pandemic has tailed off. 

The rise in the popularity of commission-free trading platforms had already put pressure on the larger platforms to review their fee structures, with AJ Bell reducing their platform and foreign exchange fees from July.

Now interactive investor (ii) has announced that it will start paying interest on British pound and US dollar cash balances held in its Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) accounts from 1 July. 

Historically, platforms have not paid interest on these balances, and investors may even have been charged for the privilege of holding cash in the past.

However, the stock market downturn has encouraged some investors to leave their ISA contributions uninvested as cash in their account. Others have sold their equity investments to hold the proceeds as cash in their ISAs and SIPPs, enabling them to keep the money within its tax-free wrapper.

The move by ii will see interest of 0.25% paid on the value of any balances over £10,000, with each account (eg ISA and SIPP) treated separately, rather than combined for the purpose of the interest calculation.

Richard Wilson, CEO at ii, commented: “Interest rates are still low, but following recent increases, ii will begin paying interest on accounts from 1 July.” 

Mr Wilson also pointed to the benefit for regular traders of overseas shares, who will now earn interest on US dollar balances held on their account.

This announcement brings ii in line with other major trading platforms as follows:

  • Hargreaves Lansdown pays interest of between 0.05% to 0.25% on cash held in ISAs, 0.05% to 0.20% on Fund and Share Accounts and 0.05% to 0.45% held in SIPPs.
  • AJ Bell offers a lower interest rate of 0.0% to 0.15% for ISAs and Dealing Accounts and 0.0% to 0.25% for SIPPs. 

Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) also announced the introduction of a ‘pay by bank’ service today, allowing clients to transfer funds directly from their bank accounts to their HL accounts, without the use of cards.

George Rodgers, senior product manager at Hargreaves Lansdown, commented: “Our clients can expect a simpler payment journey as well as instant settlement for deposits and withdrawals compared to days under the current system. Our adoption of Open Banking is a key milestone in our digital transformation strategy.”

28 June: Investment Scammers Add To Ombudsman’s Burden

Fresh data from the Financial Ombudsman Service shows that so-called ‘authorised’ scams – where consumers are tricked into transferring money into accounts they believe to be legitimate – increased by over 20% to 9,370 in in 2021/22.

The Ombudsman says fraudsters are increasingly using social media to lure their victims, with many of the total 17,500 fraud and scam cases recorded for the year relating to fake investments.

The Ombudsman says it upheld 75% of scam complaints in the consumer’s favour last year.

As far as insurance is concerned, the Ombudsman recorded 38,496 complaints (including Payment Protection Insurance) in the last financial year, compared to 44,487 the year before. 

The number of travel insurance complaints decreased by 75% from 8,175 in the financial year 2020/21 to 2,116 in the financial year 2021/22.

The fall coincides with an increase in the number of insurers who have added cover for Covid-related issues to their policies.

The Financial Ombudsman Service faced a backlog of complaints throughout the pandemic. Last month, it announced that the number of outstanding complaints had decreased to 34,000 from 90,000 in April last year.

It says it resolved over 58,000 insurance complaints (including PPI) in total in the last financial year. However, it upheld less than 30% (28%) of cases in the complainant’s favour.

Nausicaa Delfas, interim head of the Financial Ombudsman Service, said: “Over the past year, the Service continued to help over 200,000 customers who had problems with financial businesses on issues across banking, lending, insurance and investments. 

“In this period of economic uncertainty it is more important than ever that where problems do arise, they are addressed quickly.  We are here to help to resolve financial disputes fairly and impartially.”

The Financial Ombudsman Service always advises consumers to complain to their product or service provider first. If they are unhappy with how their provider has dealt with their case, they should then take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

24 June: Interactive Investor Responds To Woes In ‘Sustainable’ Sector

One of the UK’s largest online investment platforms, interactive investor (ii), has ditched two funds from its buy list of ethical portfolios.

It has also revealed that only two of the 40 funds in its ACE 40 list of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments – VT Gravis Clean Energy Income Fund and iShares Global Clean Energy ETF USD Dist GBP INRG – delivered positive returns since the start of 2022 until the end of May.

Funds in the sustainable space have become popular among investors, with strong performance underpinned by their bias to so-called growth-oriented sectors (growth investing focuses on companies with better-than-average gains in earnings and which are expected to maintain high levels of profit).

However, since the start of 2022, growth stocks have faltered in the face of strong inflationary headwinds and rising interest rates, as evidenced by the performance of the ACE 40 list overall.

In contrast, value investing – focusing on companies perceived to be underappreciated and undervalued – has gained increased backing from investors this year.

On the advice of Morningstar, which advises on the composition of the ACE 40, ii announced the removal of two funds: abrdn Europe ex UK Ethical Equity, and Syncona Investment Trust. In their place, the company will add M&G’s European Sustain Paris Aligned fund.

Dzmitry Lipski, head of funds research at ii, said: “We continuously review the list to ensure it meets customer needs and, in this instance, given the significant shift in the market environment this year we agreed with Morningstar to make these changes.”

In connection with the removal of Syncona, Morningstar said: “We feel that the level of risk the trust displays is elevated relative to the benefits.”.

Regarding the abrdn fund, it said: “Compared to peers, the team’s fund management experience remains limited. Overall, we believe there are stronger fund options available in this sector and have therefore recommended the removal of this fund from the ACE 40 list.”

14 June: Analysts Warn S&P 500 Could Fall Even Further From January High

US stocks closed in bear market territory yesterday (13 June) after the S&P 500 fell 3.9%, hauling down the stock index’s overall performance by 21.8% since its record high achieved on 3 January this year.

Stock market professionals generally define a bear market as one that has fallen least 20% from its peak.

The sell-off in equities was prompted by nervous investors taking fright at a higher-than-expected May inflation figure of 8.6% as reported last Friday (10 June) by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The announcement stoked expectations that the US Federal Reserve could implement an interest rate rise of 0.75 percentage points at its next monetary policy meeting, which concludes tomorrow (Wednesday).

A rate hike of this magnitude would signal a more aggressive stance from the Fed towards its strategy of tackling soaring consumer prices.

Later this week, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected to announce a 0.25% hike in the Bank Rate in its own bid to stave off steepling inflationary pressures in the UK.

Stock market analysts warned that the sell-off in US equities potentially has further to go.

Ben Laidler, global markets strategist at social investing network eToro, said: “The S&P 500 closed in bear market territory yesterday, over 20% down for the year, and history tells us there is still a way to go yet. Recession risks are rising and could see this market fall another 20%.”

Laidler added that while S&P 500 bear markets were a relatively infrequent event, when they did happen, they tended on average to last around 19 months and result in a 38% drop in prices: “This one has only lasted five months and is down 21%.” 

Russ Mould, investment director at online broker AJ Bell, said: “There is a lot riding on the Federal Reserve’s policy update tomorrow. Investors look as if they increasingly fear the central bank will become more aggressive with the pace of interest rates to try and curb inflation, given May’s cost of living figures were higher than expected.

“The Fed is focused on inflation and the economy, not the markets, yet its actions have significant influence on the direction of stocks and bonds. A decision to raise rates by more than half a percentage point could cause chaos on the markets and put a bigger dent into investors’ portfolios than they’ve already seen this year.”

7 June: Investors Hold Back Despite Prospect Of Better Returns

Nearly two-thirds of UK adults have money to invest but say they are prevented from doing so because they don’t know where to start, according to the investing app Dodl.

Research carried out by Dodl found that 65% of people do not have an investment account such as a stocks and shares individual savings account (ISA). But the company said the majority of the people in this group (95%) were not put off simply because they didn’t have sufficient disposable cash.

Instead, Dodl said they blame a range of issues such as not knowing where to start, the investment process being too complicated and not knowing what to invest in.

When asked how much money they potentially had set aside for investing, the average amount among respondents was £3,016.

Dodl said that leaving a sum this size in a top easy-access savings account paying 1.5% for 20 years would produce a return of £4,062. The company estimated that, if the same amount were invested over 20 years producing a 5% annual return, the total would be £8,002 after taking charges into account.

The company added that respondents were split when questioned about what would encourage them to begin investing. Just under half (48%) said they would prefer a narrow list of investments to choose from, while just over a third called for a wide range of investing options.

Dodl said nearly half of the responses (40%) were in favour of single funds that invested in mainstream themes such as technology and healthcare.

Dodl’s Emma Keywood said: “With living costs on the rise it is surprising that so many people say they have money saved in cash that they feel they could invest. The problem is they don’t know where to start or find it too complicated.  

“However, once people do a bit of research and dip their toe in the water, they often find that investing isn’t as scary as they’d thought.”

6 June: ISAs Provide Timely Boost To Funds Industry

UK investors returned to the stock market in April after multi-billion pound withdrawals in the first quarter of 2022.

Figures from the Investment Association (IA) trade body showed that investors put £553 million into funds in April. Over £7 billion was pulled from the funds market between January and March this year.

In April, the overall amount in funds under management stood at £1.5 trillion.

The IA said this year’s Individual Savings Account (ISA) season fuelled the turnaround. ISAs are annual plans that allow UK investors to shelter up to £20,000 a year from income tax, tax on share dividends, and capital gains tax.

The plans run in line with the tax year, so there is traditionally a surge in interest in the weeks leading up to the tax-year end on 5 April.

The IA said Global Equity Income was, for the first time, its best-selling investment sector in April. With weaker prospects share price growth – thanks to factors including the war in Ukraine, high global inflation and rising interest rates – company dividends have become increasingly important to the overall returns investors can make from stock and shares.

Also popular were the Volatility Managed, Specialist Bond and North American sectors. The worst-selling sector was UK All Companies.

In April, UK investing platforms were responsible for half of all gross retail fund sales, while UK intermediaries, including independent financial advisers, accounted for just over a quarter (28%). Discretionary fund managers (20%) and direct sales from investment provider to consumer (3%) made up the balance.

Miranda Seath, IA’s head of market insight, said: “Although inflows to ISA wrappers were half those of 2021, they were still the third strongest in the last five years. This is significant as April’s positive sales come after one of the most challenging quarters for retail fund flows on record.”

1 June: Hedgie Investment Strategies Split Along Gender Lines

Hedge funds led by women perform slightly better than those headed up by men over the longer term, according to research from broker IG Prime.

Hedge funds are pooled investment vehicles aimed at high-net worth individuals and other major investors.

In their quest for outsize returns, the investment strategies associated with hedge funds are often more eclectic and involve greater risk-taking than those found in most run-of-the-mill retail funds.

IG Prime’s research focused on the UK, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. It considered the extent to which a higher proportion of women in hedge fund leadership roles correlated with improved fund performance.

The company said looking at all investing periods, from one month to five years, the findings suggested there was no consistent correlation between female leadership and either positive, or negative, fund performance.

But IG Prime added that over five-year periods in both the UK and Australia, it found that hedge funds with female management at the helm marginally outperformed investment portfolios run by men.

According to the company, the decision to appoint women as hedge fund leaders may prove “somewhat beneficial… from a financial perspective”.

In spite of this, the research also found that women accounted for just 15% of the leadership roles across international hedge funds compared with men.

IG Prime also found that female and male hedge fund traders adopted differing investment strategies. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of women said they relied on equity-led approaches to investing, compared with just over a quarter (26%) of men.

In contrast, nearly twice as many men (33%) said they focused on macro-investing strategies compared with women (18%). A macro strategy bases its approach on the overall economic and political views of various countries, or their macroeconomic principles.

When it came to cryptocurrencies, about a third (31%) of male traders said they were likely to incorporate crypto assets within their portfolios, compared with 20% of female traders.

IG Prime said: “When making investments in funds, the focus should be on people’s past performance and intended strategy for the funds. Due to the unique nature of funds, it remains a wise decision to tailor each investment decision to each fund.”

26 May: Investors Identify Retirement As Main Savings Goal

The majority of non-professional investors believe investing with a life goal in mind leads to more successful outcomes compared with trying to make money in the abstract, according to research from Bestinvest.

The investment service’s Life Goals Study found that 80% of investors with a financial target on the horizon believed that this would help them secure a more satisfactory result.

Bestinvest also said that nearly nine in ten investors (89%) had a set goal in mind that they are trying to achieve by making their money work harder for them via an investment strategy.

Three-quarters (77%) of investors referred to a retirement-related investment incentive, either one that helped them to give up work sooner, or to help fund a comfortable income stream alongside their state pension.

Other major goals driving investment strategies included building up a pot of wealth to provide financial security, boosting lifestyles in the run-up to retirement, paying for future family costs such as weddings or tuition fees and building up wealth to hand on to future generations.

Despite both men and women sharing the belief that having an investment goal would lead to better results, Bestinvest said women “were noticeably less likely to check whether they are on course to achieve their goals than men”.

Bestinvest’s Alice Haine said: “It’s concerning that female investors are choosing to pay less attention to their investments. Women are often more vulnerable to pension poverty as they have less money squirrelled away than men, either because of the gender pay gap, or because they have taken time out of their careers to care for children or loved ones.”

  • The average age of women when they start investing is 32, compared with men who typically start at the age of 35, according to research from Janus Henderson.

The fund manager also found that, on average, UK investors allocate around 16% of their money to investing. The majority of investors cited a lack of spare cash as the reason why they hadn’t started investing earlier.

26 May: Age Split On Prospects For Economy And Personal Wealth

Well-heeled older investors say inflation is their number one worry when it comes to the state of the UK economy and the prospects for their own finances, according to research from a wealth manager.

The Saltus Wealth Index also found that older high net worth individuals (HNWIs) – those with investable assets of more than £250,000 – have a far gloomier outlook about their finances compared with the affluent young.

According to the findings, the majority of younger HNWIs said they felt confident over the next six months about both the future of the UK economy as well as their own finances.

But when posed with the same questions, older HNWIs expressed significant concerns. According to Saltus, a third (34%) of HNWIs in the age-range 55 to 64 said they were confident about future prospects. The proportion fell further, to 23%, among HNWIs aged 65 or over.

When asked what they saw as the biggest threat to their finances, older HNWIs pointed to inflation (33%), Covid-19 (30%), exchange rates (25%), cyber security (25%) and geo-political risk (22%).

Saltus said this marked a shift from 2021, when Covid-19 was the top threat, followed by inflation, return on investments, Brexit and climate change.

UK inflation rocketed to 9% in April 2022, its highest level in 40 years, as prices felt the effect of soaring energy costs and the impact of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. 

The rise has exacerbated a cost-of-living crisis that was already playing havoc with the finances of millions of UK households.

Michael Stimpson, a partner at Saltus, said: “There are a number of factors causing feelings of unease, with the impact of rising inflation the key concern, especially among older people whose fears about how it will affect their retirement plans highlights more than ever the importance of having a robust financial plan in place.”

  • The UK’s millionaires are prioritising recycling as part of their efforts to be environmentally friendly, instead of changing their investments, which could have a bigger impact.

According to Coutts, the private bank, wealthy individuals remain focused on sorting out plastic from paper. But the majority – 85% – have not made changes to their investment portfolio, despite evidence that this is the best way to enjoy a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

25 May: UK Dividend Payments Totalled £11.2 billion In First Quarter

Payouts to shareholders made by companies out of their profits jumped 11% to a record £242 billion ($302.5 billion) worldwide in the first quarter of 2022, according to the latest dividends data from Janus Henderson.

Dividends provide a source of income for investors, especially as part of a retirement planning strategy.

The investment manager’s Global Dividend Index said the growth in dividends could be a result of the “ongoing normalisation” of payouts following the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

During 2020, companies worldwide cut back sharply on dividend payments to shareholders, opting instead to retain cash as a defence against the worst effects of the pandemic.

Janus Henderson reported that every region experienced double-digit growth in dividend payouts in the first quarter of this year, thanks to a stronger economic backdrop and the ongoing catch-up in payments following cuts during 2020 and early 2021.

However, it warned that the global economy faces challenges during the remainder of 2022 and predicted that the resulting downward pressure on economic growth would affect company profits in a number of sectors.

In the UK, oil companies in particular helped boost payouts to shareholders by 14.2% in the first quarter of 2022 to £11.2 billion ($14.7 billion).

Distributions in the healthcare sector also rose, after pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca hiked its dividend for the first time in nearly 10 years. Janus Henderson said telecom operator BT also made a significant contribution to growth.

The US, Canada and Denmark each set all-time quarterly records paying out £114 billion ($142 billion), £10.7 billion ($13.4 billion) and £7.8 billion ($9.8billion), respectively.

Janus Henderson’s Jane Shoemake said: “Global dividends had a good start in 2022, helped by particular strength from the oil and mining sectors.

“The world’s economy nevertheless faces a number of challenges – the war in Ukraine, rising geopolitical tensions, high energy and commodity prices, rapid inflation and a rising interest rate environment. The resultant downward pressure on economic growth will impact company profits in a number of sectors.”

19 May: FundCalibre Ranks ESG Portfolios Using ‘Simple’ Definitions

FundCalibre, the online fund research centre, has launched what it says is a “simple” set of definitions it will use to scrutinise investment portfolios structured along environmental, social and (corporate) governance (ESG) lines.

ESG investing is as concerned with its impact on people and the environment as it is with potential financial concerns.

The concept has moved centre-stage within the investment arena to the point where trillions of pounds in assets are managed globally along ESG principles.

FundCalibre says it now includes an ESG assessment on the notes of each of the 228 ‘Elite Rated’ and ‘Radar’ funds that appear on its website. The assessments are each broken down into one of three categories: explicit, integrated, and limited.

‘Explicit’ funds are those that have an ESG or sustainable approach at the heart of their investment philosophy. Funds placed in this category are likely to have an independent panel or rely on a consumer survey to determine their ESG criteria.

‘Integrated’ funds are those that embed ESG analysis within the investment process as a complementary input to decision making. 

‘Limited’ funds contain an element of ESG in their process, but the portfolio is not influenced overall by the ideal of ethical investing.

Each assessment is publicly available and free to view.

Professional fund managers typically put together investment portfolios according to various ESG criteria and themes. But because ESG is a wide-reaching concept, there is no absolute set of principles to which funds must adhere.

Ryan Lightfoot-Aminoff, senior research analyst at FundCalibre, said: “With each fund manager doing something different, it has become very difficult for investors to know exactly how responsible a fund really is. What’s more, a lack of trust in asset managers’ ESG claims remains a barrier to investment.

“We launched a responsible investing sector in 2015 highlighting the funds in this category that our research team believe to be among the very best. We have now gone one step further and have included an ESG assessment.”

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17 May: Investors Bemoan ‘Time-Consuming’ And ‘Complicated’ Process

Nearly half the UK’s young investors make investment choices while engaged in another activity, according to the City regulator and the nation’s official financial lifeboat.

In a survey exploring attitudes towards investing, 42% of respondents aged between 18 and 24 said they made their latest investment while sitting in bed, watching TV or returning home from the pub or a night out.

The research, carried out for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the  Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), also found around half of investors (44%) did not research their investments because they found the process “time-consuming” and “too complicated”.

The FSCS warned that, if consumers do not understand where they are investing their money, it increases the potential for them to fall foul of investment scams.

Earlier this year, a group of MPs warned of an alarming rise in financial frauds being perpetrated in the UK. The Treasury Select Committee suggested social media giants should pay compensation to people duped by criminals who use their websites.

According to the FSCS/FCA survey, around a quarter of investors (27%) said they were more likely to invest in an investment opportunity with a “limited timeframe” – such as one that was only available for the next 24 hours.

The FCA says time pressure is a common tactic used by scammers. It advises consumers to check its Warning List to see if an investment firm is operating without authorisation.

About one-in-five survey respondents said they hadn’t checked, or didn’t know, if their investment is FSCS-protected. The FCA says this puts consumers at risk of choosing investments with no possibility of compensation if their provider goes out of business.

FSCS protection means consumers can claim compensation up to £85,000 against an FCA-authorised business that has failed.

Consumers can check if their investment is financially ring-fenced by the FSCS via its Investment Protection Checker

Mark Steward, enforcement director at the FCA, said: “Fraudsters will always find new ways to target consumers, so make sure you do your homework and spend some time doing research. Just a few minutes can make a big difference.”

16 May: Older Investors ‘Less Likely To Embrace ESG Values’

Feelings among investors are sharply divided by age in relation to environmental, social and governmental (ESG) issues, according to research carried out on behalf of wealth managers and financial advisers.

ESG, one of several approaches within the wider concept of ‘ethical’ investing, is as concerned with its impact on people and the environment as it is with potential financial returns.

A study carried out by the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA) – an industry body representing investment firms and advisers – reveals a “significant generational divide” in attitudes to ESG investing.

PIMFA found that a large majority (81%) of people across all generations rate ESG factors as either ‘very important’ or ‘important’ drivers of their investment decisions.

But while nearly three-quarters (72%) of investors aged between 18 and 25 believe some, if not all, of their investments should aim for the greater good, less than a third (29%) aged between 56 and 75 feel the same. Among investors aged 75 or over, the proportion drops further to one-in-five (21%).

PIMFA also found that ESG investment issues were more important to women than men, with 86% of women across all generations saying it is a factor in their investment strategy. 

However, while female investors are keener than men for their money to contribute to the greater good, a larger proportion of women (37%) say they lack confidence and ESG investment knowledge compared with men (26%).

Liz Field, PIMFA chief executive, said: “One of the more pronounced effects of the Covid-19 pandemic was the marked increase in interest in all things ESG. Of particular interest is how the five basic generational groups differ in their responses to ESG.

“The wealth management industry has a big opportunity to harness ESG investing as a catalyst to encourage more women to invest and secondly, to use ESG as both an educational and a practical tool to stimulate a much broader culture of savings and investment in the wider market.”

13 May: First Quarter Performance Figures Show That Value Managers Trump Growth Rivals

Investment performance at the UK’s largest wealth managers has experienced a dramatic U-turn this year, according to a leading investment consultancy. 

Asset Risk Consultants’ (ARC) analysis of 300,000 portfolios, managed by more than 100 wealth management firms, found that growth-orientated strategies have struggled given the prevailing economic conditions of 2022, while value-biased portfolios have enjoyed a revival in fortune.

Growth-based strategies represent the process of investing in companies and sectors that are growing and are expected to continue their expansion over a period of time.

Value investing concerns itself with buying companies that are under-appreciated both by investors and the market at large.

ARC says the scenario is a complete reversal from the end of last year. Many portfolios that were riding high at the end of 2021 are now languishing in the bottom quartile for performance, having been replaced with former laggards from the same period. 

Bottom quartile represents the worst-performing 25% of portfolios.

ARC says its findings show that the changing economic landscape has had a significant impact on managers whose investment strategies were previously based on a low inflation, low interest rate environment.

The company says that strategies favouring growth stocks, smaller companies and long-dated bonds had suffered the most. At the same time, around a third (30%) of managers with a value bias jumped from the fourth quartile at the end of 2021 to the top quartile in the first quarter of this year.

Graham Harrison, managing director of ARC, said: “The cause is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which has wide-reaching and long-term geo-political implications.”

Harrison pointed to other contributory factors including “a populist trend toward more protectionism, supply chain shortages caused by Covid-19 and a decade-long lack of real wage growth.”

He added: “The easy money has been made. We are at an inflection point for financial markets and investment strategies. The next decade will be significantly different for investors than it has been during the past three.”

6 May: Fund Outflows Mount As Uncertainty Rises

UK retail investors withdrew more than £7 billion from funds in the early months of the year, with March 2022 alone responsible for nearly half of that figure, according to the latest figures from the Investment Association (IA).

The IA reports that outflows spiked up from £2.5 billion in February this year to £3.4 billion in March. Investors also withdrew funds amounting to £1.2 billion in January 2022.

The pace of withdrawal by investors accelerated sharply over the first quarter of the 2022 exacerbated by tightening monetary policy in major markets and compounded by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Surging inflation, rising interest rates and the Ukraine crisis have combined to trigger an investor flight from risk, particularly in relation to bond funds and, to a lesser extent, in equity-based portfolios.

Laith Khalaf, head of investment analysis at brokers AJ Bell, said: “The outflows from equities look modest compared with the withdrawals registered by bond funds. Over the course of the first quarter, investors withdrew £1.9 billion from equity funds, but £6 billon from bond funds.”

Chris Cummings, IA chief executive, said not all fund sectors witnessed outflows over the period: “March was a story in two parts, and outflows were balanced by many investors using their Individual Savings Accounts and seeking potentially safer havens in diversified funds, with multi-asset strategies benefiting in particular.
“Inflows to responsible investment funds continued to be a bright spot and demonstrate investors’ commitment to sustainable investing.”

4 May: Fund Manager Says Fewer Than 1% Of Funds Achieve Consistent Top Performance

Fewer than 1% of funds – out of a total of more than 1,000 – have managed to deliver sustained top performance over time, according to the latest research from BMO Global Asset Management.

The investment firm’s latest Multi-Manager FundWatch survey found that just five (0.45%) of the 1,115 funds it covers achieved top quartile returns over three consecutive 12-month periods running to the end of the first quarter of 2022.

It says this is the lowest number of funds it has recorded in this bracket since its survey began in 2008. It describes the figure as “well below” the historic average number of consistent, top-performing funds, which usually stands around the 3% mark.

The company points to market events that have damaged fund performance in the last three years, including Covid, inflation, climate change and related environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations.

It also highlights the war in Ukraine and its geopolitical effect on the supply of resources for the dramatic drop in the number of consistent high-performing portfolios.

Rob Burdett, head of the multi-manager team at BMO, said: “The war in Ukraine is the latest in market shocks, with the resulting sanctions having a significant impact on commodities, inflation and interest rates, as well as the impact at a sector level, with knock-on effects for defence and energy stocks.

“These crises have caused significant gyrations in financial markets and underlying asset classes, resulting in the lowest consistency figures we have ever seen in the survey.”

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3 May: Fundscape Warns Of Tough Year Ahead For Platforms

Assets held on investment platforms offering their services direct to consumers (D2C) have dipped below £300 billion in what could be a tough year for providers, according to Fundscape.

The fund research analysts says rampant inflation, fuel price increases, National Insurance hikes and the cost-of-living crisis have taken a toll both on investor sentiment and market prices in the first quarter of this year, even before factoring in the effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Fundscape says the overall result has led to a 6% reduction in the combined assets under management held on D2C platforms from approximately £315 billion to £297 billion at the end of March 2022.

D2C providers tend to earn the bulk of their revenues during the Individual Savings Account season between January and March each year, heightening the damage caused by a sluggish first quarter. 

Fundscape’s Martin Barnett said: “The first quarter of the year is the bellwether of investor sentiment and sets the tone and pace of investments for the rest of the year. 2022 could be a tougher year for many D2C houses, especially the robos.”

Robos, or robo advisers, provide an automated, half-way house option for investors looking for an alternative either to do-it-yourself investing, or delegating the full-blown management of their investments to a professional adviser.

28 April: CFA Reports Leap In Trust For Financial Services

A new Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute study shows that 51% of UK retail investors now trust the financial services sector, compared with just 33% in 2020. 

The CFA Institute is a global body of investment professionals, which administers CFA accreditation and publishes regular investment research, including its biennial report on investor trust.

According to the latest report, the majority of UK retail investors (59%) now believe it’s ‘very likely’ they will attain their most important financial goal. For 58%, this is saving for retirement, while a further 12% are prioritising saving for a large purchase such as a home or car. 

The CFA surveyed over 3,500 retail investors across 15 global markets, and found that trust levels have risen in almost every location. On average, 60% of global retail investors say they trust their financial services sector.

The CFA study views last year’s strong market performance as a key driver for investor trust. In 2021, both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ achieved average returns of over 20%, while the FTSE 100 returned 14.3% — its best performance since 2016 (although global markets have since suffered falls in line with the general economic downturn).

Another factor is the uptake of technologies such as artificial intelligence-led investment strategies and trading apps, which can improve market accessibility and transparency. Half of retail investors say increased use of technology has instilled greater trust in their financial advisor.

The study also revealed investor desire for personalised portfolios that align with their values. Two-thirds say they want personalised products, and are willing to pay extra fees to get them.

Investment strategies that prioritise ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) credentials are a key target area for this personalisation, with 77% of retail investors saying they are either interested in ESG investment strategies or already use them.

Rebecca Fender, head of strategy and governance for research, advocacy, and standards at the CFA Institute says: “The highs we’re now seeing in investor trust are certainly cause for optimism, but the challenge is sustaining trust even during periods of volatility.

“Technology, the alignment of values, and personal connections are all coming through as key determinants in a resilient trust dynamic.”

20 April: AJ Bell Aims Trading App At Market-Shy Investors

Investing platform AJ Bell has launched what it claims is a “no-nonsense” mobile app aimed at investors with considerable sums to invest, but who are daunted by the prospect of stock market trading.

AJ Bell is hoping that its Dodl app will appeal to savers disappointed with low returns on their cash and who are looking for an easy way both to access the stock market and manage their investments.

City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, recently identified 8.6 million adults in the UK who hold more than £10,000 of potentially investable cash.

Research by AJ Bell prior to the launch found that about a third of people who don’t currently invest (37%) are put off from doing so because of not knowing where to start. About half (48%) said being able to choose from a narrow list of investments would encourage them to start investing.

Dodl will therefore limit investors to a choice of just 80 funds and shares that can be bought and sold via their smartphone. In contrast, rival trading apps offer stock market investments running into the thousands.

The app will offer several products that people need to save tax efficiently, including an Individual Savings Account (ISA), Lifetime ISA and pension. Dodl will also feature “friendly monster” characters that aim to break down traditional stock market barriers and make it easier for customers unfamiliar with the investing process.

AJ Bell says a Dodl account can be opened via the app in “just a few minutes”. Customers are able to pay money into accounts via Apple and Google Pay, as well as by debit card and direct debit.

Dodl has a single, all-in annual charge of 0.15% of the portfolio value for each investment account that’s opened, such as ISA or pension. A £1 per month minimum charge also applies. The annual cost of holding a £20,000 ISA via Dodl would be £30.

Buying or selling investments is commission-free, and no tax wrapper charges apply. AJ Bell says customers investing in funds will also be required to pay the underlying fund’s annual charge as they would if they were investing on the company’s main platform.

Andy Bell, chief executive of AJ Bell, said: “Investing needn’t be scary. In developing Dodl, we’ve focused on removing jargon, making it quick and easy to open an account and narrowing the range of investments customers have to choose from.”

14 April: Market Turbulence Takes Toll On Wealthy Investors

Millionaire UK investors experienced greater losses compared with their less well-off counterparts since the start of 2022, with market volatility doing more damage to riskier portfolios favoured by those with greater amounts to invest.

Interactive Investor’s index of private investor performance shows that those of its customers with £1 million portfolios experienced losses of 4.2% in the first quarter of this year.

By comparison, average account holders were down 3.6% over the same timeframe, while professional fund managers had lost 3.7% of their money.  

Figures stretching back over longer periods reveal an improvement in overall performance figures. Typical customers experienced losses of 1% over six months but were up by 5.4% over the past year. 

Professional managers fared marginally worse, being down 1% over six months and up 5.3% over the last 12 months.

Stock markets worldwide have endured a troubled time in the first quarter of this year. According to investment house Schroders: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February caused a global shock. The grave human implications fed through into markets, with equities declining.”

Richard Wilson, head of Interactive Investor, said: “The horror unfolding in Ukraine has framed what was already a torrid time for markets. So, it’s no surprise to see the first quarter of the year chart the first negative average returns since we first started publishing this index.

“Markets don’t go up in a straight line, and this index is a sobering reminder of that. It’s also a reminder of the importance of taking a long-term view, and not putting all your eggs in any one regional basket.”

[] In recent months, those with money in savings have become more wary about investing in markets.

Hargreaves Lansdown (HL), the investment platform, said that roughly one-third of investors who put money into a stocks and shares ISA this year have kept their money in cash rather than investing it.

In the previous two years, HL said that about a quarter of investors have favoured cash over markets-based investments.

31 March: Research Reveals Investor Inflation Concerns 

Most investors with individual savings accounts (ISAs) are concerned about the short-term impact of inflation on their portfolios, according to research from online investing platform Freetrade.

ISAs comprise a suite of government-backed savings plans which, depending on the product chosen, allow interest or investment growth to accumulate tax-free

In a poll of 1,000 ISA holders, commissioned by the company in association with the Investing Reviews website, two-thirds (67%) said they were worried about the effect of inflation on their investment gains over the next three years.

Freetrade found the typical investor expects to make returns of 5.8% per annum over that period. But with the consumer prices measure of UK inflation recently soaring to a 30-year high of 6.2%, the majority of investors expect to find it harder to make real gains in the foreseeable future.

Despite rising interest rates and increased stock market volatility because of the conflict in Ukraine, Freetrade said a significant proportion of investors – one-in-five (19%) – still expect to make double-digit gains in the immediate years ahead.

In another finding, less than a third (31%) of investors believe that a strategy of holding single company stocks promised the best future returns. In contrast, nearly half (49%) thought low-cost funds were likely to offer the strongest performance.

The poll also revealed more optimism about the potential of UK equities, following record outflows of £5.3 billion from the sector during 2021. One-in-five investors intend to increase their exposure to domestic assets, while 4% are inclined to sell off their UK holdings.

Freetrade’s Dan Lane said: “Maybe the UK market’s relatively cheap valuation is proving too hard to resist, or maybe the allure of US tech is waning slightly. Whatever the reason, the UK seems to be back on the menu in 2022.”

* For savers and investors who haven’t already done so, time is running out to use this tax year’s ISA allowance. All UK adults have an ISA allowance each tax year worth £20,000. The 2021-22 tax year ends on 5 April and the 2022-23 equivalent begins the following day. 

1 March: Global Dividends At Record High In 2021

Payouts to shareholders made by companies out of their profits surged to a record level in 2021, but global growth in dividends is forecast to slow sharply this year.

According to investment manager Janus Henderson, this trend was in evidence even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The company’s Global Dividend Index reported that companies paid out $1.47 trillion to shareholders in 2021, an increase of nearly 17% on the year before.

The figure represents a major rebound from the sharp cuts imposed on dividends by companies during 2020, when their preference was to retain cash due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dividends are a common source of income for investors, especially as part of a retirement planning strategy.

Janus Henderson said payouts reached new records in several countries last year including the US ($523 billion), China ($45 billion) and Australia ($63 billion).

In the UK, dividends rose to $94 billion, a 44% increase in 2021 compared with the previous year. The recovery came from a base of particularly severe cuts during 2020 that meant payouts still lagged pre-pandemic levels.

Janus Henderson said that 90% of companies globally increased or held their dividend steady during 2021. Banks and mining stocks alone were responsible for around 60% of the $212 billion increase in last year’s payouts. Last year, BHP paid the world’s largest-ever mining dividend worth $12.5 billion.

For the year ahead, before Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Janus Henderson had forecast dividend growth at a more moderate 3.1%. The figure may now need to be trimmed further.

Jane Shoemake at Janus Henderson said: “A large part of the 2021 dividend recovery came from a narrow range of companies and sectors in a few parts of the world. But beneath these big numbers, there was broad based growth both geographically and by sector.” 

17 February: Crypto Take-Up Doubles Among Younger Investors 

Investors aged 45 or under who own crypto assets have doubled in number in a year, according to research from Boring Money.

The consultant’s Online Investing Report 2022, based on a survey of more than 6,300 UK adults, also shows that mobile comms is becoming the dominant medium for younger investors buying funds and shares

Boring Money said the proportion of adults aged under 45 who own crypto assets has risen from 6% in 2021 to 12% over the past 12 months. Ownership among the over 45s was significantly lower at 3% this year, compared with 2% in 2021.

The Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial watchdog, warned last year about the volume of newer investors who were being attracted to high-risk investments such as cryptocurrencies, and also the risk of ‘low friction’ trading on mobile.

Low friction trading allows investors to start trading within just a few clicks of their smartphone or tablet. The FCA says that adding a small amount of ‘friction’ to an online investment process, through the use of disclosures, warnings and tick boxes, helps investors to better understand risk.

According to Boring Money, 43% of investors say they have used their mobile in the past 12 months as a means of checking the balance on an investment account. This compares with 36% of investors in 2021. 

About one-in-five investors (19%) also reported that they had bought or sold through a mobile app compared with 16% last year.

Boring Money said one-in-five (19%) of the total UK retail investor population is made up of individuals with less than three years’ experience of investing, while 7% have been investing for less than a year.

Holly Mackay at Boring Money, said: “There is a ‘book-end’ effect in the DIY investment market today. At one end we have millions of people in cash, with significant balances and no investments. At the other end, we have some relatively inexperienced, mostly younger investors holding extremely volatile assets.

“There is a more natural middle ground for millions, and providers have to find some answers on how to transition more customers to that more comfortable area.”

  • The organisation that makes recommendations to the G20 nations on financial rules has said that the risks posed by cryptocurrencies to global financial stability could “escalate rapidly”.

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) warned that policymakers must act quickly to come up with rules covering the digital asset market, given its increasingly overlapping links with the traditional financial system.

According to the FSB, some parts of the crypto market – worth around $2 trillion globally – are hard to assess because of “significant data gaps”. 

14 February: Bestinvest Spotlights ‘Dog’ Investment Funds

Investment funds worth a combined £45 billion have been named and shamed as consistent underperformers by research from online investing service Bestinvest.

The firm’s latest Spot the Dog analysis shows that fund groups abrdn and Jupiter and wealth manager St James’s Place and were each responsible for six relatively poor-performing funds out of 86 so-called ‘dogs’ identified by the twice-yearly report. 

The research defines a ‘dog’ fund as one which fails to beat its benchmark over three consecutive 12-month periods, and also underperforms its benchmark by 5% or more over a three-year period.

A benchmark is a standard measure, usually a particular stock market index, against which the performance of an investment fund is compared. 

Bestinvest said the funds, despite their underperformance, will generate £463 million in management fees this year, even if stock markets remain flat. 

The analysis highlighted 12 funds that were each worth over £1 billion. These included JP Morgan’s US Equity Income fund worth £3.93 billion, Halifax UK Growth (£3.79 billion) and BNY Mellon Global Income (£3.47 billion).

Also featured in the analysis were Invesco’s UK Equity Income and UK Equity High Income portfolios, described by Bestinvest as “perennially misbehaving funds”.

Bestinvest’s previous Spot the Dog report last summer identified 77 funds worth just under £30 billion. The company says the reason for an increase in the number of poor performers is because of additions from the Global and Global Equity Income investment sectors.

Jason Hollands, managing director of Bestinvest, said: “Spot the Dog has helped shine a spotlight on the problem of the consistently disappointing returns delivered by many investment funds. In doing so, not only has it encouraged hundreds of thousands of investors to keep a closer eye on their investments, but it has also pushed fund groups to address poor performance.

“Over £45 billion is a lot of savings that could be working harder for investors rather than rewarding fund companies with juicy fees. At a time when investors are already battling inflation, tax rises and jumpy stock markets it is vital to make sure you are getting the best you can out of your wealth.”

3 February: Half Of DIY Investors Unaware Of Risk Of Losing Money

Nearly half the people who make investment decisions on their own behalf are unaware that losing money is a potential risk of investing, according to new research from the UK’s financial watchdog.

Understanding self-directed investors, produced by BritainThinks for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), found that 45% of self-directed investors do not view “losing some money” as a potential risk of investing.

Self-directed investors are defined as those making investment decisions on their own behalf – selecting investments and making trades without the help of a financial adviser.

In recent years, do-it-yourself trading has become increasingly popular among retail investors. 

According to the FCA, over one million UK adults increased their holdings in high-risk products such as cryptocurrencies or crowdfunding investments in the first seven months of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

The research says “there is a concern that some investors are being tempted – often through misleading online adverts or high-pressure sales tactics – into buying complex, higher-risk products that are very unlikely to be suitable for them, do not reflect their risk tolerance or, in some cases, are fraudulent.”

It added that self-directed investors’ investment journeys are complex and highly personalised, but it was possible to categorise investors into three main types: ‘having a go’, ‘thinking it through’ and ‘the gambler’.

The FCA used behavioural science to test various methods of intervention to help investors pause and take stock of their decisions before committing in “just a few clicks”.

It found that adding small amounts of ‘friction’ to the online investment process, such as ‘frequently asked questions’ disclosures about key investment risks, warnings and tick boxes, helped investors comprehend the risks involved.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘’The boom of high-risk investing is causing huge nervousness among regulators, with the FCA increasingly concerned that vulnerable consumers are being swept up in a frenzy of speculation. 

“The ‘fear of missing out’ effect which took hold during the pandemic, has been drawing more people into the murky world of crypto investments and almost half still don’t understand the risks involved.”  

26 January: M&G Partners With Moneyfarm On Consumer Investment Service

M&G Wealth is teaming up with financial app Moneyfarm to provide a direct digital investment service aimed at meeting a range of customer risk appetites and profiles.

It will offer a collection of multi-asset model portfolios, backed by a range of actively managed and passive funds. 

Multi-asset investing provides a greater degree of diversification compared with investing in a single asset class, such as shares or bonds. Passive funds typically track or mimic the performance of a particular stock market index, such as the UK’s FT-SE 100.

Moneyfarm will deliver the operating models, including dedicated “squads” to support the technology platform and customer relationship management, together with custody and trading services.

Direct investing in the UK has witnessed rapid growth in the past five years, with an annual average increase in assets under management of 18% to £351 billion at the end of June last year, according to researchers Boring Money.

David Montgomery, M&G Wealth’s managing director, said: “With the launch of a direct, mobile-based investment platform, our customers will be able to access the channel, advice and investment proposition that most suits their financial situation and needs.”

Moneyfarm was launched in Milan in 2012 and has 80,000 active investors and £2 billion invested via its platform. 

25 January: Bestinvest Relaunches DIY Investment Platform

Bestinvest, part of Tilney Smith & Williamson (TS&W), is relaunching its online DIY investment platform with new features including free coaching, ready-made portfolios and a range of digital tools.

The company says it is revamping its existing platform into a “hybrid digital service that combines online goal-planning and analytical tools with a human touch”. Customers can ask for help from qualified professionals through free investment coaching.

If desired, clients can also choose a fixed-price advice package covering either a review of their existing investments or a portfolio recommendation. Bestinvest said one-off charges of between £295 and £495 will apply depending on the package selected.

The new site will go live to coincide with the end of the tax year on 5 April.

A range of ready-made ‘Smart’ portfolios offering a range of investment options to suit different risk profiles will accompany the launch.

The portfolios will be invested in passive investment funds, while being managed actively by TS&W’s investment team. Passive funds typically track or mimic the performance of a particular stock market index, such as the UK’s FT-SE 100. The TS&W team will adjust portfolios’ exposure to markets and different asset classes according to prevailing investment conditions.

Bestinvest said the annual investment cost will range between 0.54% and 0.57% of each portfolio’s value. 

From 1 February, the company added that it is reducing its online share dealing costs to £4.95 per transaction, regardless of deal size.

Bestinvest produces a twice-yearly report on underperforming or “dog” investment funds. It said it wants to bridge the gap between existing online services for DIY investors and traditional financial advice aimed at a wealthier audience.

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