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Property funds sitting on cash as FCA investigates sector

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Written by: John Fitzsimons
24/04/2017
Some of the UK’s biggest property funds are opting to keep substantial reserves in cash, to serve as a defence against another run on the funds.

Last year following the Brexit vote a number of property funds had to block investors from withdrawing cash, as uncertainty gripped the market. Funds were slammed for promising investors liquidity terms which were unrealistic given they were investing in property.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is now investigating the sector to identify measures which could prevent similar situations to those seen last summer.

According to the Financial Times, five of the biggest funds are now holding at least a fifth of their assets in cash, with concerns that the fallout from the snap election and the ongoing Brexit situation could lead to another wave of investors looking to withdraw their money.

Speaking to the paper, Andrew Hook, portfolio manager of the Aviva Investors Property Trust – which holds assets of around £1.6bn – said: “We have deliberately held a higher cash weighting since the resumption of dealing last December. This is not out of line with the vast majority of our peer group funds.”

Other funds with more than 20% held in cash include Columbia Threadneedle’s UK Property fund, the CanLife UK Property fund and L&G’s UK Property fund. Typically funds keep around 10% of their assets in cash, though the Kames Property Income fund has a massive 33% in cash.

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