World’s Rich Put a Third of Funds Into Cash as Trade War Simmers

(Bloomberg) -- Wealthy investors around the world are holding a relatively high level of cash, and perhaps they’ve become too cautious, according to UBS Group AG.

The world’s largest wealth manager said 32 percent of high-net-worth portfolios are in cash, in a survey released May 7. In Asia and Latin America, the portion was 36 percent, compared with 31 percent in Switzerland and 35 percent in the rest of Europe. The outlier: the U.S., at just 23 percent.

“Cash is a safe asset for a liquidity strategy but a risky one for longevity,” Paula Polito, client strategy officer at the Swiss bank’s Global Wealth Management unit, said in a statement. “We see high levels of cash globally. This is a good time for investors to consider a more diversified portfolio.”

World’s Rich Put a Third of Funds Into Cash as Trade War Simmers

Those holdings dovetail with evidence about the rally in global equities, which shows investors have been keeping some money on the sidelines even as stocks have risen solidly in 2019. In February, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said Asian funds were positioned all wrong for the nascent rally. And last month, a John Hancock strategist said there was some evidence of “FOMO undertow,” or the pull into stocks from fear of missing out on gains.

UBS said 42 percent of those surveyed planned to invest more, compared with 17 percent who were expecting to scale back. The top concern in Latin America was inflation, while in Asia it was a global trade war and in the U.S. it was “my country’s politics.”

It was UBS’s first ever quarterly Investor Sentiment survey, so there were no comparable figures from last year, a spokeswoman said.

The poll was conducted between March 10-28 across 17 countries. Respondents included more than 3,600 investors with at least $1 million in investable assets, and business owners with at least $250,000 in annual revenue and one or more employees.

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