At the end of January the Investment Management Association (IMA) published its summary of fund sales for 2013. This covers nearly 2,500 UK domiciled funds, with a total value at the end of 2013 of £770bn.
2013 was a much better year than 2012 for fund managers, and not just because most major equity markets delivered good returns. Individual investors were more confident, which the numbers highlighted in a variety of ways:
- Net sales (purchases of new units/shares less redemptions) were up over 40% on the previous year.
- Equity funds net sales more than trebled to £11.4bn.
- Whereas the biggest equity fund sector, UK All Companies, was the least popular in 2012, by the final quarter of 2013 it was the most popular.
- In the opposite direction, the Sterling Corporate Bond sector, which was the most popular sector in the first half of 2012 was the worst selling sector in 2013, suffering a net outflow of £1.7bn.
Taking a broad view of assets classes rather than individual sectors, what was most notable was the move into equity funds and away from fixed income (bond funds), where net sales dropped to virtually zero. Some commentators have taken this as the beginning of “the great rotation” from bonds to equities. However, the biggest asset class sales growth (in percentage terms) was for the revitalised property sector, as the graph below shows.