Investors globally are balancing recession concerns with an improving stock market outlook, according to the latest quarterly Investor Sentiment report from UBS. The survey of 2,900 high-net-worth (“HNW”) investors and 1,200 business owners across 14 markets, found that 54% of investors globally are concerned about a recession, compared to 49% in 2Q22. However, short-term market outlook has increased over the last three months and 59% of investors are optimistic about what is to come. Strong demand for goods and services (46%), returning to normal after COVID-19 (43%) and strong corporate earnings (41%) top the list as to why some investors believe that there’s hope on the horizon, even amidst a challenging market backdrop.
Investors seek advice on market challenges and opportunities
A recession falls among the top three investor concerns globally, just behind inflation (55%) and geopolitical risk (55%). Thirty-one percent believe that their economy is already in a recession, and another 21% expect one in their market before year-end. Sixty-two percent of investors expect inflation to increase further in 2023, and as a result, almost half have already cut down on spending, while 37% are looking to make a large purchase now, before prices increase further. To offset higher costs that come with increased inflation, 31% of investors plan to decrease the amount they are saving.
Sixty-nine percent of investors expect interest rates to rise in 2023 and plan to act if this happens over the next few months by adding cash (38%), alternatives (31%) and adjusting sector allocations (31%).
Amid global uncertainty, investors are seeking more advice on market opportunities (74%), how to manage volatility (74%), how to generate yield (73%) and tax optimization (73%). Of those surveyed with advisors, 87% said that they are seeking more guidance than usual given the current environment. Compared with the previous quarter and in an increasingly rising interest rate environment, seeking advice on borrowing rose the most (61%, +8%) and 25% plan to borrow now before rates rise further.
Business owners are equally optimistic
Among business owners surveyed, 72% are optimistic about their business over the next 12 months, and despite a recession topping their list of concerns, 41% plan to continue to fill post-COVID-19 hiring gaps. Other concerns include geopolitical instability (54%), wage inflation (54%), and rising materials costs (54%). To manage increased expenses, business owners are buying from lower cost providers (46%) and increasing their prices (45%).
Sixty-two percent of investors surveyed in Asia are optimistic about the outlook on their own region’s economy over the next 12 months, with 60% expecting their personal finance situation to be better six months from now. Geopolitical risk (53%), a recession (50%) and a downturn in financial markets (48%) are the top concerns for investors in Asia, with 40% planning to increase allocation to cash or cash equivalents if interest rates increase in the next few months and 47% reducing spending as a result of higher inflation.
Sixty-nine percent of investors in Europe are optimistic about the outlook on their region’s economy over the next 12 months, higher than any other region. However, geopolitical risk (59%), inflation (57%), and the size of national debt (56%) are causing concern and investors have started to seek alternative sources of yield. Sixty-eight percent have already included alternative investments in their portfolios and 35% are looking to increase this allocation within the next six months. Fifty-two percent plan to add to cash amid market turmoil.
Fifty-eight percent of investors in Latin America are optimistic about the outlook on their region’s economy over the next 12 months. Their top concerns are inflation (72%), the political environment (71%) and the value of the local currency (71%) on how these factors would affect their financial goals. Despite this, 72% expect their personal finance situation to be better six months from now, with 43% of investors believing the economy will improve.
US investors are the least optimistic about the outlook on their region’s economy over the next 12 months (51%), with 63% believing a recession is imminent. In the upcoming mid-term elections, the economy is the top issue (83%). Fifty-nine percent of investors expect inflation to increase in 2023 and as a result, 52% have cut down on spending. Although 52% are optimistic on the near-term stock market outlook, 35% are pessimistic amid concerns around politics (64%) and inflation (63%).
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