UK - Pooled balanced pension funds returned 18.1% in 2003, their first positive calendar year performance since 1999, said measurement firm Russell/Mellon CAPS.

The returns take median weighted returns to 0.2% over a five-year period to the end of 2003.

“2003’s performance has helped pooled funds claw back a significant proportion of the money lost since the start of the millennium,” said Daniel Hall, publications and statistics manager.

The returns compare with previous highs of 18.9% in 1995 and 21.2% in 1999.

Last year’s performance “was driven by double-digit positive returns in each of the major equity markets” – the index return on UK equities was 20.9%, while overseas equities returned 20.8%.

Total equity allocation was 83.2% - 53.1% UK equities and 30.1% overseas. This compares to an equity allocation of 78.5% at the end of 2002. UK bond allocation has fallen to eight percent from 10.3% in 2002.

In the 10 years since 1993, fixed interest allocation has risen to 11.9% from 6.4%. Equities have fallen to 53.1% from 61.1% and overseas equities are up to 30.1% from 26%.

The company surveyed 81 asset managers with more than 254 billion pounds in pooled funds, both balanced and specialist.

The best performing fund in 2003 was the GLG Capital with a 37.3% return; the worst was Neptune Balanced at 10.2%.

Over five years, the Neptune Balanced has the best return, 19.3% while the Aegon Tactical Managed is worst at –5.0%.