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Where the ultra-wealthy are putting their money

  • The ultra-wealthy are allocating more of their money to equities and less to hedge funds and real estate this year, a survey by UBS Wealth Management and Campden Research found

The ultra-wealthy are allocating more of their money to equities and less to hedge funds and real estate this year, a survey of family offices published on Wednesday found.

Equities accounted for 27.1 percent of the average family office portfolio, the survey from UBS Wealth Management and Campden Research said. Equities allocation rose about 1.6 percentage points against the prior annual report for the global composite assembled from multi-year respondents.

Alternative investments, meanwhile, saw an overall 3.7 percentage point decrease. That category includes direct real estate purchases and hedge funds,

The survey included 262 online surveys with family offices globally, conducted between February and May, with the average office managing around $921 million.

The ultra-wealthy may put more money into equities ahead, the survey found, with around a fifth saying they plan to increase their developed-market equity exposure and nearly 44 percent planning to invest more into developing-market equities, the survey found.

One of the takeaways from the report is that the rich remained in love with private equity, with around a fifth of the average portfolio in segments including venture capital and co-investments, or collaborating with partners for direct investments into companies.

But family offices weren't entirely starry-eyed about the segment.

One family-office executive in North America told the survey about some concerns ahead.

"Overall, private equity has done pretty well again, but I'm afraid that these returns may be starting to go down. There is just too much money chasing fewer and fewer deals," the executive said, according to the report.

Family offices also weren't pleased with their investments in hedge funds.

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Allocations to hedge funds declined, falling to 6.2 percent of the average family office portfolio, the survey found. Among multi-year participants in the survey, the allocation fell to 7.1 percent in 2016 from 8 percent in 2015 amid concerns over their ability to generate satisfactory returns, it said.

That came despite better performance, with the funds rising 0.8 percent last year after falling 2.6 percent in 2015, the survey said.

Around 30 percent said they were likely to decrease their hedge fund allocations ahead, the report found.

The ultra-wealthy were also putting less money into real estate, with the average allocation among multi-year respondents slipping to 15.8 percent this year, from 16.5 percent in 2016, the survey said.

"While this is most likely the result of the enhanced performance of other asset classes and a lack of portfolio rebalancing, some observe that the real estate market may be beginning to peak in developed parts of the world, such as North America and parts of Europe," the report said.

But family offices were still interested in real estate, with 40 percent saying they were planning to increase their investments going ahead, the survey found.

Portfolios performed better last year, rising an average 7 percent in 2016, compared with 0.3 percent in 2015, the survey said.

Family offices in North America performed the best globally last year, averaging a 7.7 percent annual return, largely due to lower allocations to real estate, which was weaker in 2016, the report said.