UK – New data from HSBC Actuaries and Consultants puts UK balanced pooled pension funds’ average return at 14.1% for the first 10 months of 2003.

“Over the last year, we have seen positive growth in nine months out of 12,” said investment consultant David Wynn.

“The last time we saw such consistent growth was in October 2000 so, although not yet out of the woods, pension scheme trustees are perhaps able to be a little more positive on their outlook for markets than they were at the end of the summer.”

“We are also seeing a return to more ‘normal’ behaviour with equities significantly outperforming bonds over the last twelve months. Funds that have overweight equity positions are benefiting.”

The role of equities in returns was demonstrated by the performance of different asset managers, HSBC said.

It said that one, underweight equities, had achieved an 8.6% return, while another’s overweight stance saw a 20.9% return.

“This wide variation in returns further backs the importance of strategy over stock selection, particularly over the long term – an issue which the Government, through the recent comments of the Treasury finance secretary, Ruth Kelly, is keen to emphasise,” Wynn added.