Buckle your seatbelts if you believe high net worth investors make accurate forecasts. A majority of HNWs expect “higher volatility” in the markets in the near term, says new research from UBS.

And increased volatility will make the investment environment “more challenging” than it has been in the past five years, investors told the wirehouse.

More than three quarters of respondents predicted higher volatility. Two thirds pinned geopolitics as responsible for likely market fluctuations and almost half identified the U.S.-China trade conflicts as their top concern in that regard.

"The rapidly changing geopolitical environment is the biggest concern for investors around the world. They see global interconnectivity and reverberations of change impacting their portfolios more than traditional business fundamentals, a marked change from the past," Paula Polito, client strategy officer for UBS’s global wealth management unit, said in a statement issued with the survey results.

How are the surveyed investors adjusting to their volatility expectations? UBS Global Wealth Management surveyed 3,400 wealthy investors in 13 markets worldwide. On average these investors are holding cash in abundance. A quarter of their portfolios are cash — above the wirehouse’s recommended levels. And some 60% of the investors told UBS pollsters they would consider increasing cash levels in the future.

Surprisingly, fewer U.S. investors want to talk politics with their FAs in comparison to their counterparts in the rest of the world — 78% here versus 82% elsewhere. That may be particularly noteworthy in light of the congressional hearings for the impeachment of President Donald Trump scheduled this week.


Advisors also take note: yawning gaps exist between millennials and their elders’ interest in sustainable investing.

Among respondents aged 18-34, 83% identified themselves as interested in that category of assets. In comparison, only 30% of respondents 50 or older expressed a similar interest in sustainable investing.