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Institutional investors confident about navigating future volatility, says Wilshire survey

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Institutional investors are self-assured when it comes to navigating the next bout of market volatility, according to a new survey conducted by Wilshire Associates (Wilshire) with roughly 95 per cent of the 75 institutional investors surveyed reported being at least somewhat confident in their organisation’s readiness to successfully navigate market volatility. 

Among that group, 39 per cent feel very confident and 56 per cent are somewhat confident. Five per cent reported that they do not feel very confident.
 
When asked to compare preparedness today for a bear market with how well prepared the organisations were in 2007, fewer than one-third of respondents (29 per cent) feel “far more prepared.” More than half of institutions (58 per cent) feel more prepared than in 2007 and the remainder (13 per cent) reported feeling the same level of preparedness as 12 years ago.
 
“If history teaches us anything, it is that markets do not go up forever in a straight line, so it is reassuring that many institutions have been proactive in their preparation for this inevitability,” says Steve Foresti, Chief Investment Officer of Wilshire Consulting. “However, with roughly six-in-ten institutions feeling anything less than far more prepared for a bear market than in 2007, and the same number feeling only somewhat confident about weathering volatility, there’s opportunity for improvement.”
  
Institutions are a mixed bag when it comes to what type of investments will generate best market returns in the next 12 months. Investors will primarily look to equities, with 41 per cent of respondents citing US or emerging market equities to bring about the greatest market return over the next year (21 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively). Fixed income was the next most highly-cited investment opportunity, with 29 per cent of respondents choosing international and US fixed income as creating the greatest opportunity. One-fifth believe alternatives will generate best market returns and 10 per cent will look to real estate.
 
Most institutions expect geopolitical events to be the most likely trigger for a sustained downturn. Two out of five investors identify the US-China trade situation as being the potential epicenter of the next market correction or downturn. A quarter of survey respondents expect US monetary policy to be the likely trigger and another 14 per cent anticipate the 2020 US election could lead to a sustained downturn.
 
“While it is nearly impossible to predict what might trigger a sustained market correction, institutions can make sure their portfolios are well diversified to account for various risks and market scenarios,” adds Foresti. “Since investor perceptions of preparedness for market turbulence can often differ from actual readiness, running portfolio stress tests can be a valuable technique to pre-experience an institution’s preparedness.”

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