Business Outputs and Developments Division
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 456756
Frequency of release: Quarterly
Geographical coverage: UK
Geographical breakdown: UK
Survey name(s): Quarterly Survey of Insurance Companies: Long-term Business Income and Expenditure, Quarterly Survey of Insurance Companies: Long-term Business Transactions and Balances, Quarterly Survey of Insurance Companies: General Business Income and Expenditure, Quarterly Survey of Insurance Companies: General Business Transactions and Balances, Quarterly Survey of Pension Funds: Income and Expenditure, Quarterly Survey of Pension Funds: Transactions and Balances, Investment Trusts Quarterly Return of Transactions, Unit Trusts Quarterly Return of Transactions, Property Unit Trusts Quarterly Return of Transactions, Annual Survey of Insurance Companies: Long Term Business Balance Sheet, Annual Survey of Insurance Companies: Long Term Business Income and Expenditure, Annual Survey of Insurance Companies: General Business Balance Sheet, Annual Survey of Insurance Companies: General Business Income and Expenditure, Annual Survey into Pension Funds: Balance Sheet, Investment Trusts Annual Return of Liabilities and Assets and Overseas Income and Interest Paid, Unit Trusts Annual Return of Liabilities and Assets, Property Unit Trusts Annual Return of Liabilities and Assets
Total net investment by insurance companies, pension funds and trusts is estimated to have been £16 billion in the first quarter of 2013. This is slightly above the five year average for this quarterly series of £14 billion.
At Q1 2013, net investment in short-term assets was very strong (£16 billion), indicating that businesses chose to favour liquidity rather than longer-term investment strategies.
The net investment data for Q1 2013 would seem to suggest that some investors are switching back to gilts, either in an attempt to beat the volatility of equity markets or in anticipation of future action by the Bank of England.
There would seem to be a pattern of behaviour for self-administered pension funds to make one-off payments to reduce the deficits in their funds at Q1 and Q4 of a given year, leading to a tendency for the figures for the first and fourth quarters to be higher than those for the other quarters of the year.
This release presents information about the investment choices of insurance companies, self-administered pension funds, investment trusts, unit trusts and property unit trusts. Reported in this release are quarterly net investment data arising from financial transactions (investments) made by these institutional groups. Also included are quarterly balance sheet data for short-term assets and liabilities, along with quarterly income and expenditure data for insurance companies and self-administered pension funds. All data are reported at current prices (effects of price changes included).
Every Q3 release contains annual balance sheet data for all the institutional groups; providing information on the market value of assets and liabilities. Annual income and expenditure data for insurance companies are also reported at this time.
A question often asked of the MQ5 release is ‘why does it only cover certain institutional groups?’ The answer is that these institutions control a substantial level of assets (over £3 trillion) and engage in significant volumes of investment activity to fund their operations. An understanding of their investments and assets is important in order to monitor the financial stability of the financial sector and as a key contribution to the UK National Accounts.
Over the next few years, changes to surveys covering the financial sector will be necessary to ensure ONS becomes compliant with the revised European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA10). Once the changes have been made and ‘bedded in’, ONS will consider expanding the MQ5 release to cover other parts of the financial sector, such as securities dealers and businesses engaged in the provision of financial services.
ONS makes every effort to provide informative commentary on the data in this release. As part of the quality assurance process, individual businesses are contacted in an attempt to capture reasons for extreme period on period data movements. It can prove difficult to elicit detailed reasons from some businesses to help inform the commentary. Frequently, reasons given for data movements refer to a ‘change in investment strategy’ or a ‘fund manager’s decision’. Consequently, it’s not possible for all data movements to be fully explained.
We are aware that a number of users make use of these data for modelling or forecasting purposes. In doing so, careful attention should be paid to the revisions policy (50.7 Kb Pdf) for this release. Comparing the first published estimates of total net investment with the equivalent estimates published three years later, the average quarterly revision (without regard to sign) is £5 billion.
The estimate of total net investment for Q4 2012 (last quarter) has been revised downwards by £9.3 billion from £19.6 billion to £10.3 billion (see background note 6 for further information).
A glossary (112.9 Kb Pdf) is available to assist users with their understanding of the terms used in this release.
These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.