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Fund sales bounce back in March but investors remain cautious

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Sales of investment funds were back in the black in March as investors sought to use up their pension and ISA allowances ahead of the end of the tax year.

Figures from the Investment Association, the trade body representing the UK’s investment managers, show inflows of £379m last month compared with outflows of £440m and £400m in January and February respectively. However, the total is still down significantly from the £965m worth of retail fund sales (inflows) seen in March 2015.

Notably, investors put £237m into funds in ISAs taking total inflows for fund-based ISAs to £1.5bn for the 2015/16 tax year, down from £2.6bn in the previous year.

A dire start to the year for global stock markets saw investor confidence plummet in the first couple of months of 2016.

Despite the bounce back in March, investors remained cautious, reducing their holdings in equity funds and looking instead to multi-asset, absolute return and fixed income products.

Lower-cost tracker funds also remained popular, with inflows of £393m.

Guy Sears, interim chief executive of the Investment Association, said: “It is a sign of the times, with changing pension regulation and uncertainty in the global economic outlook, that multi-asset and absolute return products have been popular with retail investors. These sectors have grown in recent years as our members have reviewed existing products and introduced new funds to meet investors’ changing needs.”

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