Pension funds and other institutional investors on average now have a broader range of alternative assets than a year ago, according to a study.

Alternatives data and analysis firm Preqin revealed in an outlook report that more than a third of institutional investors around the world had exposure to at least four alternative asset classes at the start of 2017 – including property, private equity, private debt, and hedge funds.

It marked a significant increase from a year ago when only a quarter of respondents invested in at least four asset classes, Preqin said.

In the firm’s survey, 9% of institutions have been shown to be investing in six alternative asset classes and a fifth have exposure to five or more.

This compares to the situation 12 months before, when only 13% had exposure to five or more separate markets, Preqin said.

Andrew Moylan, head of real estate products at the firm, said: “Preqin’s investor surveys demonstrate the considerable appetite for alternative assets within the investor community at present, with many looking to ramp up their participation within these markets.”

Even though the share of investors not involved in alternatives has remained relatively consistent, he said that those investors who were exposed were now broadening that exposure and diversifying into different asset classes within alternatives.

In the poll, 93% of investors indicated they felt their real estate performance had met or exceeded performance expectations in 2016, but 37% said they thought their portfolio would perform worse in the coming year.

Just 9% said they expected property to perform better.

For other asset classes, Preqin found a record level of satisfaction among private equity investors: 84% said they had a positive perception of the sector. In contrast, 43% said they were dissatisfied with the hedge fund industry. Almost a third (31%) planned to decrease their allocation “over the longer term”.