JOHANNESBURG - One of the key themes at the recent Schroders Investment Conference in Venice, Italy, was the huge impact that economic and disruptive forces are set to have on investors in the coming years.

Both investment returns and economic growth are predicted to be lower, while political uncertainty remains high and technological advances are set to change the face of many industries. At the conference, 100 global fund selectors were asked which issues currently concern them most from an investment viewpoint.

According to Philip Haddon, Head of Investment Communications at Schroders, right now the most pressing concern for 35percent of those delegates polled is the impact of the ongoing trade wars between the US and China. This is followed by the end of quantitative easing (24percent), political risk (20percent) and the prospect of a sustained low growth environment.

Moving to monetary policy, the audience was asked about what lies ahead for interest rates in the US. Some 55percent predicted four more rate rises from the Federal Reserve (Fed). (The poll was taken prior to the rate hike this week, when the Fed raised interest rates by 25 basis points.)

About 28percent of delegates predicted there would only be two more, however, while 17.5percent of those polled thought there would be six or more yet to come.

“Sustainable investing is an ever-more prominent theme among investors. Rather than a niche pursuit, it is becoming the new normal,” says Haddon.

At the conference, polling showed that 49percent of investors in Venice already invest sustainably, with a further 26percent considering doing so. However, a third of those polled do not currently invest sustainably and are not yet considering it.

It was clear that having a positive impact is not enough; performance is key for professional investors tasked with getting the best possible returns for their clients.

The main reason (cited by 32percent of the investors) stopping them from upping their investments in sustainable products is the concern that they may not deliver as good a return as non-sustainable products.

Haddon says that greater clarity from fund managers on their approach is needed, as 32percent of delegates said they are not investing more because of the lack of information on how sustainable fund managers are engaging with the companies they invest in.

Supplied by Schroders

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