NEST cuts gilt allocation across all target date funds

  • By: Rachel Dalton
  • 22 Jan 2013
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The National Employment Savings Trust has cut its allocation to conventional gilts across all 47 of its retirement date funds.

It has reallocated the money to developed market equities, typically cutting the gilt allocation from 6.1% to 1.9%.

A spokesman confirmed that the reallocation occurred in all of its retirement date funds although not to the same extent in all of them.

"We cut the exposure across most of the 47 NEST Retirement Date Funds, although those where the impact has been less obvious are in the consolidation phase where our objectives are primarily to get members ready for taking their pots as a lump sum or annuity," he said.

Chief investment officer Mark Fawcett said NEST reallocated from gilts because he does not believe gilts will rally strongly and that their risk/reward balance is no longer appropriate.

Hargreaves Lansdown pension investment manager Laith Khalaf said most managers are aware of the risks now associated with gilts but cannot avoid the assets as they are required within some pension funds.

"Rational long-term investors are unlikely to find gilts an appealing place for investment: potential returns are limited and potential losses are large," he said.

"However some pension funds will have gilt exposure baked in. In particular most lifestyle funds which default members are switched into as they approach retirement are predominantly invested in gilts."

Khalaf said he finds it hard to imagine that the "bond bubble" is about to burst, but added the scale of losses that would occur if this were true is enough cause for concern.

"In the short term it is difficult to see a big fall in gilt prices until there are signs of a tightening in monetary policy," he said.

"However there is also little scope for price gains either and a 2% yield over 10 years doesn't even match current levels of inflation.

"It may be some time before we see a rise in interest rates, but if and when we do the potential losses faced by gilt investors are quite scary: if yields on the 10 year bond were to rise to 5% (2007/08 levels) that would equate to around a 30% capital loss for investors, so there is justification for concern."

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