Demand for Fixed-Income Funds Resurfaces
March 27, 2023 — London
Attractive yields and eased inflation fears see European investors return to bond funds
After a remarkably difficult 2022, fixed-income funds look to be back in favor with Europe’s investors as inflation fears begin to ease and yields improve, according to the latest issue of The Cerulli Edge―European Monthly Product Trends.
Fixed-income funds in Europe saw net inflows of €49.4 billion (US$53 billion) in the first two months of 2023.1 This follows net outflows in most months of 2022 and a 14.5% decline in fixed-income assets under management (AUM) over the year.
“In 2022, fixed-income funds failed to provide European investors with much of a cushion as stock prices fell. Although investors had anticipated higher inflation and central bank responses, they were not well prepared for the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on energy and food prices. A series of rate rises across the EU, the U.K., and the U.S. left no bond sector safe from falling values,” says Fabrizio Zumbo, director of European asset and wealth management.
However, during the first two months of 2023, fixed-income funds in Europe attracted net inflows of €49.4 billion, dwarfing the net inflows of €27.2 billion gathered by equity funds over the same period.2 Net inflows of €9.7 billion made January 2023 the best-selling month ever for bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Some 27% of the asset managers named fixed income their top sales priority over the next 12 to 24 months, only slightly below the 29% that singled out equity. The same survey found that the bond outlook in key European markets is less of a worry for European distribution heads than the equity outlook.
Flows for both bond ETFs and index funds were resilient in 2022. Asset managers in Europe anticipate growth for index fund and ETF AUM with a third (32%) expecting index fund growth to exceed 10% over the next 12 to 24 months and a quarter (27%) expecting the same for ETF growth.
Asset and wealth managers express mixed sentiment toward emerging market bond funds. “Some believe that Chinese and other Asian emerging market debt now offers an appealing risk-return profile, with the risk of defaults low relative to the high yields offered. Others are more cautious, preferring to delegate investment calls regarding emerging markets to global bond fund managers. Volatile flows reinforce the idea that sentiment around the emerging market fixed-income sector is mixed,” says Zumbo.
1 Source: Morningstar
2 Source: Morningstar
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