High net-worth, older UK investors most cautious in Europe, while millenials more likely to invest in riskier assets

Francesca Washtell
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(FILES) A picture taken 17 April 2007 in...
Older UK investors keep more than a third of their investments in cash (Source: Getty)

Older UK investors are the most cautious in Europe, with more than a third of their portfolios invested in cash to avoid asset risks from the volatility affecting global markets.

Cash made up 36 per cent of the older investors' portfolios, classified as investments owned by those the age of 40.

This figure was up from 29 per cent the year before, the worldwide survey of more than 5,370 high net-worth individuals across 19 countries found.

According to Legg Mason Global Asset Management, the European cash-held average was 28 per cent.

To raise cash, investors have generally trimmed their allocation to risk assets across the board, leaving them in many cases with lower average weightings than their counterparts in Europe.

For instance, older UK investors’ average exposure to investment real estate currently stands at 13 per cent, lower than investors in Germany (30 per cent), France (23 per cent), Spain, Switzerland and Belgium (all 19 per cent).

However, while UK investors have reduced their allocation to equities (to 29 per cent from 31 per cent the year before), their average weighting remains higher than their European peers, which reaches 26 per cent.


On the other hand, UK millennial investors between the ages of 18 to 39 were more likely to allocate their capital to riskier assets, the same study found.

Their average allocation to cash is 20 per cent, compared to the European millennial average of 23 per cent, while younger UK investors have above-average allocations to non-traditional investments, at 13 per cent compared to 10 per cent in Europe.

"Older UK investors have a higher weighting to cash on average than anywhere else in Europe, with fears over global growth, commodity prices, market volatility and central bank policies seemingly worrying investors over here more than their peers in other key markets," Adam Gent, head of UK sales at Legg Mason said.

"It is perhaps unsurprising that, due to their relative youth, millennials have a significantly lower weighting to cash, although notably their allocation to equities is not only below their European peers, but far below their older UK counterparts. With their portfolios more evenly allocated across asset classes, it appears UK millennials are happier to diversify into areas such as non-traditional investments in order to spread risk, rather than lean so heavily on traditional areas like equities."

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