• Investors and business owners globally have grown more upbeat on the economy and stock market
  • A majority of investors do not anticipate a return to normalcy until after July 2021
  • Eight in 10 respondents now expect sustainable investments to deliver returns that are the same as or better than traditional investments

Zurich/Basel, January 27, 2021 – Investors are increasingly optimistic about their regional economic outlook and the equity markets, according to UBS’s new Investor Sentiment survey, which polled more than 4,000 investors and business owners across 14 markets globally in late December and January.

A majority of survey respondents (60%) have a positive economic outlook over the next 12 months, compared with 55% three months prior. Sixty-three percent of investors don’t believe life will return to normal in the next six months. Of those respondents, only 48% are optimistic about the economy. Among the 37% of investors who expect life to return to normal in the next six months, economic optimism is much higher at 80%.

Over the next six months, 61% of investors are also increasingly optimistic about the stock market, up 6 percentage points globally over the past quarter. Globally, investors expect the market to benefit from progress on COVID-19 vaccines (72%) and the potential impact of the US election results (62%). 

Among business owners, 72% are confident in their own business over the next 12 months, up from 69% in the third quarter, due to business momentum (45%), vaccine progress (43%) and favorable monetary policy (40%). Nearly a third of business owners (32%) plan to hire workers, up from 30% three months prior. However, the proportion of business owners who plan to downsize increased as well, up 2 percentage points.

Investors expressed particular interest in sustainable investing, with 54% looking to increase their allocations. Half of investors expect sustainable investing to yield the better returns relative to traditional investing, while 29% expect equal performance.

Tom Naratil, President of UBS Americas and Co-President of UBS Global Wealth Management, said: “We are encouraged that confidence among investors and business owners is rising globally, despite uncertainty over COVID-19 and political issues. The decade ahead will present new opportunities, while geopolitical, economic and social challenges will remain. It is no surprise to see that eight in 10 investors tell us they need expert advice more than ever.”

Commenting on the finding that most investors plan to increase sustainable allocations within their portfolios, Iqbal Khan, Co-President of UBS Global Wealth Management, said: “Three years ago we had around USD 1 billion invested in our 100% sustainable portfolio for private clients. Today that figure is over USD 18 billion. We believe sustainable investing offers significant value for clients and for the world, which is why in September we became the first major global financial institution to make it our preferred solution for private clients investing globally.”

US

The national debt has surpassed COVID-19 to become the top concern among those surveyed (60%). Fifty-nine percent believe the US election results will be good for the economy, while 31% believe they will hurt the economy. Stock market optimism has increased to 59% from 55% the prior quarter due to vaccine progress and the results of the US elections.

Latin America

Sixty-five percent of Latin American investors are optimistic about their economy, higher than the average among global investors (60%). Similar to the global average, 61% of Latin American investors are optimistic about the stock market. Seventy percent say sustainable investing will deliver better returns than traditional investing, the highest expectation globally.

Europe

European respondents excluding Switzerland have also grown significantly more confident in their own region’s economy and in the stock market. Sixty-five percent are optimistic about the economy, up from 58%, while 64% are optimistic about the stock market, up from 55% three months prior.

Switzerland 

Swiss respondents’ optimism about their own region’s economy held steady over the quarter. Confidence in the stock market also remained unchanged, with 54% expressing optimism.

Asia

Asian investors grew more positive on their economic outlook in their own region. The proportion expressing optimism was up 7 percentage points to 62%. Their confidence in the stock market also rose 7 percentage points, to 61%.

About the UBS Sentiment survey

For this edition, UBS surveyed 2,854 investors and 1,151 business owners with at least $1M in investable assets (for investors) or at least $1M in annual revenue and at least one employee other than themselves (for business owners), from December 29, 2020, to January 18, 2021. The global sample was split across 14 markets: Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mainland China, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK and the US.

About UBS

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. UBS's strategy is centered on our leading global wealth management business and our premier universal bank in Switzerland, enhanced by Asset Management and the Investment Bank. The bank focuses on businesses that have a strong competitive position in their targeted markets, are capital efficient, and have an attractive long-term structural growth or profitability outlook.

UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in more than 50 regions and locations, with about 30% of its employees working in the Americas, 31% in Switzerland, 19% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 20% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs over 68,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

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