Allocations to equities in balanced multi-manager funds fell to an all-time low in Q1 2020, as investors upped their cash weightings and increased gold exposure, according to research from Harrington Cooper.
UK wholesale investors cut their allocations to equities by almost 6% to just under half of portfolios (49.99%) in a quarter that finished off a long bull run in stockmarkets, Harrington Cooper's latest asset allocation tracker showed.
The allocation is the lowest level seen since the tracker was developed in January 2014.
All equity regions except the US, meanwhile, saw falls in allocation, with UK equities down 2.1% to 14.7%, and global and European stocks down by 2.3% and 1.4% respectively. The outperformance of US equities, driven largely by the technology-heavy Nasdaq index, kept weightings across the pond steady at around 11%.
Cash weightings soared to 10.2% - the highest ever - as funds looked to hang onto firepower - while safer areas of fixed income, including gilts and sovereign debt, were also in demand, increasing by 0.4% and 0.8% respectively.
Finally, hard assets - gold, private equity and infrastructure - increased by 1.1% to an allocation of 4.4% and alternatives was up by 1.3% to 9.2%.
These increases was led by gold, with WisdomTree Physical Gold and iShares Physical Gold ETC breaking into the list of the ten most-commonly held funds in balanced multi-manager portfolios.
A number of UK-focused offerings fell out of that top ten, including Liontrust Special Situations, Marlborough Multi-Cap Income and JOHCM UK Dynamic.
In the income multi-manager portfolios Harrington Cooper tracks, the falls in allocation were less pronounced. Despite a swathe of dividend cuts, cancellations and deferments across the globe, exposure to equities fell just 2.8% to 39.1%.
That said, the top ten listt was dominated by strategic bond funds, and topped by TwentyFour AM Dynamic Bond and Schroder Strategic Credit.
Harrington Cooper's data tracks 31 multi-manager funds, accounting for £8.5bn of assets, in the UK market following a balanced risk profile. Its income tracker monitors 17 income funds accounting for £4.2bn in assets.