Investment management delivers for investors during a tumultuous 2020

Chris Cummings
Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association

Assets under management held by Investment Association (IA) members grew to £9.4 trillion in the UK by the end of 2020, an increase of 11% on the previous year, according to the Investment Management Survey.

Total funds under management (FUM) for UK investors have also seen an 11% increase year on year, reaching £1.4 trillion in 2020.  Quick adaptation to home working, a focus on delivering for customers, and crucial interventions from the central banks were all key aspects of the industry’s recovery and resilience through the Covid–19 pandemic.

The UK remains the second largest investment management centre in the world behind the United States, and by far the largest investment management centre in Europe with a market share of 37%. The UK’s share of the European market is larger than the combined total of France, Germany and Switzerland. The UK also remains an attractive hub for overseas investors. By the end of 2020, overseas client assets accounted for 44% of total AUM (equivalent to £4.2 trillion).

The growth in assets managed according to responsible investment criteria is one of the standout developments of 2020. The green agenda continues to rise in prominence and investment managers have committed to support the transition to net zero emissions. 49% of total assets managed by IA member firms apply ESG integration, up from 37% in 2019. The proportion of assets subject to sustainability focused criteria almost doubled in 2020 to 2.6% of total assets.

Retail investor appetite for environmentally conscious funds has been building over recent years but the pandemic brought social concerns to the fore, as net retail sales to responsible investment (RI) funds accelerated through 2020 to reach £11.7 billion, a third of overall sales. FUM in responsible investment funds grew by 60% over 2020, pushed higher by strong sales and new fund launches. The percentage of UK investor FUM in RI funds remains small but growing at 3.9% – up from 2.6% at the beginning of 2020.

March 2020’s market contraction in the equity and bond markets badly hit asset valuations globally and UK investor FUM fell 11% over March alone. A swift recovery followed as central banks took decisive action to calm markets. However, the recovery in UK equity valuations has lagged other major markets, including the US. AUM in UK equities continued to fall in 2020 – down three percentage points from 2019, reaching a record low of 26%, whilst North American equities have grown to account for 23% of equities in 2020. The fall in UK equities also reflects the long-term trend of higher allocation to globally diverse equity and bond strategies. Three quarters of equity assets are now invested overseas compared with just over 50% ten years ago and assets in overseas bonds are 55% of all bond AUM in 2020.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association (pictured) said:

“The investment management industry demonstrated its long termism through the pandemic by supporting the companies it invests in. The swift action of the central banks supported the global economy and the industry rallied to the cause injecting over £22bn into businesses to help them ride out the storm. But the pandemic wasn’t the only story of 2020. We also saw the acceleration towards a greener economy as retail investors placed record funds into responsible and sustainable investments, seeing a new generation embracing investing. With the final transition out of the EU completed, the industry is well-set to build on its world class reputation which has already led to it managing £9.4trn of international clients’ funds.”

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