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Global Institutional Investors Brace for Market Risks and Pursue an Active Approach in 2018 – BlackRock Study

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Faced with low interest rates and relatively high valuations for risk assets, large global institutional investors are looking to protect themselves against downturn risks through maintaining their cash levels and selectively increasing allocations to active strategies, according to a new survey by BlackRock.

While 65% of clients plan to leave cash allocations unchanged for the year ahead, the survey shows an interest in active management among institutional investors, which should play out across a diverse set of alternative asset classes, including illiquid assets and hedge funds, and also within public equities.

The survey of 224 institutional clients globally, representing $7.4 trillion1 in assets, found that illiquid or real assets remain the frontrunner within the private market universe for large global institutional investors and are expected to be the largest beneficiary of asset flows. Three fifths (60%) of institutional investors globally are expecting to increase their allocations to Infrastructure and Renewables.

Real Estate is similarly set to gain, with more than two fifths (42%) of institutions increasing allocations to the asset class. Over two fifths of institutions (43%) are looking to increase private equity allocations globally.

“Clients’ intention to reallocate to private markets and other highly active strategies is a recognition that global risks persist and of the value of portfolio managers’ skill. Despite synchronized global growth, our overall return expectations for most segments of institutional investors are well below their return targets”, commented Edwin Conway, Global Head of BlackRock’s Institutional Client Business. “Maintaining current cash levels and increasing allocations to active managers may seem counterintuitive. But for many of our clients, it’s their two-pronged strategy for navigating risk and potentially volatile markets.”

Hedge funds set for inflows, active equities in favour

Hedge funds appear to be back in favour with investors, who have shifted from an intended decrease in 2017 to an anticipated increase in 2018. One fifth of those surveyed (20%) plan to increase their allocations to hedge funds.

Despite an anticipated overall decrease in equity allocations, almost one quarter of institutions (24%) expect to shift allocations to active relative to index investments, versus 16% that plan to do the opposite.

Alternative credit set to capture fresh capital

Globally the hunt for yield means alternative forms of credit such as private credit remain attractive, with over half of respondents (58%) looking to increase allocations.

Within credit more broadly, emerging markets also find favour, with almost two fifths (37%) looking to increase allocations here. Overall a decrease is expected in core and core plus allocations (28%), a consistent trend in the survey’s year-over-year results.

Edwin Conway adds: “In the current environment of record-high asset performance, we believe that active portfolio decisions need to be taken by institutional investors this year. For several years, we have been talking to clients about the need to embrace alternative strategies as a way to add diverse sources of return, and offset the current rate environment. It’s gratifying to see them continuing to embrace these assets as they slowly become the norm for institutional investors seeking differentiated sources of return, inflation hedging and counter-cyclical investments.”

About the survey

BlackRock conducted a global survey of 224 of its largest institutional clients representing over $7 trillion in assets over a three week period in October and early November 2017.

Rebalancing survey data

 
In 2018, how do you anticipate changing your allocations to the following?
        % increase   % unchanged   % decrease  

% net 2 (figure net
of increases
versus
decreases)

Equities       22%   43%   35%   -14%
Fixed Income       29%   42%   30%   -1%
Hedge Funds       20%   65%   15%   5%
Private Equity       43%   47%   10%   33%
Real Estate       42%   49%   9%   32%
Real Assets       60%   38%   2%   58%
Cash       13%   65%   22%   -9%
         
Type of client       % of respondents
Corporate Pension       33%
Insurance Company       31%
Public/Government Pension       18%
Investment Manager       6%
Endowment or Foundation       4%

Taft-Hartley/Unions/Other 3

      4%
Official Institution       3%
     

About BlackRock

BlackRock helps investors build better financial futures. As a fiduciary to our clients, we provide the investment and technology solutions they need when planning for their most important goals. As of December 31, 2017, the firm manages approximately $6.288 trillion in assets on behalf of investors worldwide. For additional information on BlackRock, please visit www.blackrock.com

This material is for distribution to Professional Clients (as defined by the FCA or MiFID Rules) and Qualified Investors only and should not be relied upon by any other persons. For qualified investors in Switzerland: this document shall be exclusively made available to, and directed at, qualified investors as defined in the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 23 June 2006, as amended.

Issued by BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 12 Throgmorton Avenue, London, EC2N 2DL. Tel: 020 7743 3000. Registered in England No. 2020394. For your protection telephone calls are usually recorded. BlackRock is a trading name of BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited.

In Hong Kong, this material is issued by BlackRock Asset Management North Asia Limited and has not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong. This material is for distribution to "Professional Investors" (as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap.571 of the laws of Hong Kong) and any rules made under that ordinance.) and should not be relied upon by any other persons or redistributed to retail clients in Hong Kong. In Singapore, this is issued by BlackRock (Singapore) Limited (Co. registration no. 200010143N) for use only with institutional investors as defined in Section 4A of the Securities and Futures Act, Chapter 289 of Singapore. In Taiwan, Independently operated by BlackRock Investment Management (Taiwan) Limited. Address: 28/F, No. 95, Tun Hwa South Road, Section 2, Taipei 106, Taiwan. Tel: (02)23261600. For recipients in China: This material may not be distributed to individuals resident in the People's Republic of China ("PRC", for such purposes, excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) or entities registered in the PRC unless such parties have received all the required PRC government approvals to participate in any investment or receive any investment advisory or investment management services. In Australia, issued by BlackRock Investment Management (Australia) Limited ABN 13 006 165 975, AFSL 230 523 (BIMAL). This material is not a securities recommendation or an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any securities in any jurisdiction. The material provides general information only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation, needs or circumstances. Before making any investment decision, you should therefore assess whether the material is appropriate for you and obtain financial advice tailored to you having regard to your individual objectives, financial situation, needs and circumstances. BIMAL, its officers, employees and agents believe that the information in this material and the sources on which it is based (which may be sourced from third parties) are correct as at the date of publication. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this material, no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given and no responsibility for the information is accepted by BIMAL, its officers, employees or agents. Any investment is subject to investment risk, including delays on the payment of withdrawal proceeds and the loss of income or the principal invested. While any forecasts, estimates and opinions in this material are made on a reasonable basis, actual future results and operations may differ materially from the forecasts, estimates and opinions set out in this material. No guarantee as to the repayment of capital or the performance of any product or rate of return referred to in this material is made by BIMAL or any entity in the BlackRock group of companies.

In Canada, this material is intended for accredited investors and permitted clients only.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of current or future results and should not be the sole factor of consideration when selecting a product or a strategy. Capital at risk. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. You may not get back the amount originally invested. Changes in the rates of exchange between currencies may cause the value of investments to diminish or increase. Fluctuation may be particularly marked in the case of a higher volatility fund and the value of an investment may fall suddenly and substantially. Levels and basis of taxation may change from time to time.

Any research in this document has been procured and may have been acted on by BlackRock for its own purpose. The results of such research are being made available only incidentally. The views expressed do not constitute investment or any other advice and are subject to change. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any company in the BlackRock Group or any part thereof and no assurances are made as to their accuracy.

This document is for information purposes only and does not constitute an offer or invitation to anyone to invest in any BlackRock funds and has not been prepared in connection with any such offer.

This release will be for distribution in the US, for a retail audience.

© 2018 BlackRock, Inc. All Rights reserved. BLACKROCK, BLACKROCK SOLUTIONS, iSHARES, BUILD ON BLACKROCK, SO WHAT DO I DO WITH MY MONEY and the stylized i logo are registered and unregistered trademarks of BlackRock, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and elsewhere. All other trademarks are those of their respective owners.

_______________________________________

1

  All assets shown are in USD

2

The net change is the difference between the percent of firms intending to increase MINUS the percent of firms intending to decrease. This is an indication of intent and provides a simple one-number ‘score’ for movement within a particular asset class but is not a reflection of likely flows. This material contains general information from the 2018 rebalancing survey and is not intended to represent general or specific investment advice.

3

Single family office/multi-family office

Contact information

BlackRock, Inc.
Media:
EMEA
Roland Leithaeuser, +44 (0) 2077432544
roland.leithaeuser@blackrock.com
or
AMERICAS
Melissa Garville, +1 212-810-5528
melissa.garville@blackrock.com
or
APAC
Cynthia Ng, +852 390 325 53
Cynthia.ng@blackrock.com

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