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High-net-worth investors remain deeply concerned about the impact of the war in Ukraine on the global economy and rising inflation, according to the new quarterly Investor Sentiment survey from UBS, the world's leading global wealth manager. The survey, which polled over 2,500 investors and 1,000 business owners across 14 markets globally, found that 92% of investors expect the war to increase inflation, with more than half believing inflation will last longer than 12 months.

According to half of investors surveyed, market volatility is higher than usual. Most investors foresee a negative economic impact from the war, with 66% expecting higher energy prices, 64% expecting more global instability and 60% concerned about increased cyber-attacks. However, investors aren’t adjusting their portfolios yet, but are poised to do so should the market decline further. Many are now more likely to consider buying gold, domestic stocks and oil, while technology and energy remain the most attractive sectors in the current market environment.

“Investors globally are clearly concerned about the personal and economic impacts of one of the largest humanitarian crises in decades,” said Iqbal Khan, President of UBS Europe, Middle East, and Africa and Co-President of UBS Global Wealth Management. “The long-term economic implications of the war in Ukraine are difficult to assess, but most investors remain optimistic on their outlook for the stock market and are confident in their well-diversified investment portfolio.”

The sources of concern for business owners increased this quarter with geopolitical instability joining rising material costs, tax increases, heightened regulations, and supply chain issues. As a result, confidence in their own businesses for the next 12 months declined 11 percentage points. The survey found business owners tempering their hiring and investment plans and are focusing on increasing their employee benefits, IT spending and upgrading talent.

“The impact of the war in Ukraine and rising inflation have forced business owners to again adapt to an unprecedented and unpredictable situation, after managing the effects of the pandemic on their business,” said Tom Naratil, President of UBS Americas, and Co-President of UBS Global Wealth Management. “In a tight labor market, business owners are working with their financial advisors on employee wellness offerings such as UBS’s Workplace Wealth Solutions, to bring greater value to their employees.”

Regional Findings:

US

In the US, short-term investor optimism on the US economy and stock market has increased since last quarter, both rising four percentage points to 58%. However, plans to invest more in the next six months are slightly down by three percentage points to 33%. Geopolitical risk joins politics as a top concern, followed by inflation, with six out of ten investors concerned about the war in Ukraine and its impact on their portfolio. 

Latin America
In Latin America, short-term optimism rose only two percentage points to 60%, with 61% of Latin American investors optimistic about their outlook for stocks in their region. Over half of those surveyed plan to invest more in the next six months (56%).

Europe (ex. Switzerland)

Across Europe, just over two thirds of investors surveyed remain optimistic on their economy in the short-term. However, optimism related to their outlook for stocks in their region decreased four percentage points to 63%. Nearly half of European investors plan to invest more in the next six months (46%), a decrease of three percentage points from the last survey.

Switzerland

In Switzerland, optimism in the Swiss economy in the short-term returned to 2020 levels, with only 33% of investors optimistic this quarter compared to 68% last quarter. This drop in optimism has also been reflected in their views on domestic stocks – 41% are optimistic compared with 68% in the previous quarter. There has also been a decline in their plans to invest in the next six months, with 24% planning to invest, down six percentage points from last quarter.

Asia Pacific

In Asia, investors remain optimistic about the six-month outlook for stocks in their region, and also the economy in general. There has been a minor decrease (two percentage points) in those planning to invest more in the next six months. COVID remains a concern for many in China (45%) but has decreased across APAC more broadly (47% this quarter compared to 51% last quarter).

 

Source: FleishmanHillard