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Fund sales: ‘spooked’ investors remain cautious ahead of EU vote

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UK investors continued to adopt a cautious approach in the first month of the new tax year, with fixed income and tracker funds proving popular.

Figures from the Investment Association, the trade body representing the UK’s investment managers, show fixed income was the best-selling asset class in April, with inflows of £679m, while tracker funds continued their positive running attracting £454m.

In contrast, higher risk equity funds saw net outflows of £635m, with notable outflows in European, Japanese and UK equities of £507m, £428m and £310m respectively.

Jason Hollands, managing director of advice firm Tilney Bestinvest, said uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the EU referendum could be contributing to investors’ more cautious stance.

He said: “Some of the risk averse behaviour may be down to the diet of apocalyptic rhetoric about Brexit being dished out on a daily basis which is clearly spooking retail investors, driving them out of risk assets including UK equities and property funds.

“Ironically however, in performance terms, equities had a decent April, and in May the main IA UK equity sectors have performed better than most.”

Investor appetite for fixed income, tracker and targeted absolute return funds meant total fund sales surpassed £1bn for the first time in 2016.

“Following the slow start in January, the industry has now seen three consecutive months of stronger net retail sales,” said Guy Sears, interim chief executive of the Investment Association.

The IA’s statistics now include sales of funds domiciled overseas instead of only funds domiciled in the UK to “reflect the international offering of the asset management industry”.

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