Merrill Lynch Investment Managers has appointed Anne Swift as its relationship manager and investment officer in the defined contribution pension team but has also warned that institutional fund managers were more overweight in equities than at any time since 1999.

Ms Swift will report to Phil Trevillion, head of DC relationship management. She was previously a senior consultant and DC specialist at Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow within Hewitt's Investment Practice. Prior to joining Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow, Ms Swift was head of DC member communications at Deutsche Asset Management.

Merrill Lynch Pensions’ DC business manages £3.5bn for more than 850 institutional clients.

Separately, in its March survey of 302 fund managers controlling $994bn of assets, MLIM found a net 59% of firms said they were overweight in shares while only 9% were underweight. This was the highest figure since the survey began in 1999 and up three percentage points since the previous survey in February.

David Bowers, the chief investment strategist at MLIM, said: “This is as consensus as it gets and begs the question who the marginal buyer of equities is going to be in future?”

He added that this view was surprising as fund managers were cautious about global growth prospects.

At the country level, MLIM found fund managers were steering clear of the US markets and preferring emerging markets and Japanese equities.

Bonds, however, were still being shunned, MLIM found, as a net 79% said yields would be higher in 12 months time.