Will British ISAs boost the UK equity market’s hopes for a revival?

In a proactive move, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the creation of a new British ISA, aimed at stimulating investment inflows into the UK stock market, signalling a concerted effort to reinvigorate domestic investment.  The question remains: Will this be sufficient to reignite investor interest in UK equities, or have investors lost their love for the UK market?

The UK stock market is currently navigating a challenging environment, characterised by continued investment outflows and a growing discount relative to its historical valuation and relative to other major developed markets. UK equities are now perceived as undervalued, particularly when compared to the elevated valuations seen in the US market. Reversing the trend of diminishing domestic investment would undoubtedly be a boon for the UK stock market. British savers and pension funds have historically shown a preference for global equities, partly influenced by the widespread adoption of global index funds that tend to underweight the UK in favour of a more pronounced US allocation. 

The participation of British households in the stock market has significantly decreased over the past two decades, as has the allocation of pension fund investment in UK equities. Recognising the need for action, the government is actively seeking ways to rekindle interest in UK stocks. The introduction of the British ISA represents the initial step in a long journey of channelling UK savings and pension funds back into domestic equities and potentially encourage UK companies to pursue local listings. 

Another reason behind the UK market’s depressed valuations, especially when compared to the US, is the stark difference in sector composition. The UK market is defensively oriented and value focused, with only a small slice of the FTSE 100 index dedicated to the highly priced tech sector – just 1%. This contrasts with the US market, where tech commands a substantial 30% presence. Instead, the FTSE 100 is weighted towards more traditional sectors such as banking and energy, which typically have more modest valuations. 

However, if we see a shift from growth to value investing – a scenario becoming more likely due to persistent inflation, higher interest rates, and growing economic uncertainty – the UK market is well-positioned to benefit from its attractive valuations and significant dividend yields. Additionally, escalating tensions in the Middle East could lead to another spike in energy prices, potentially making the UK market an attractive option for investors looking for diversification in the face of geopolitical risks.

Overall, valuations in the UK equity market may have reached a point where they are sufficiently attractive to catch investors’ interest. The stock market often prices in expectations that look beyond the immediate economic landscape. Given the prevailing pessimism, it seems likely that the market has already fully priced in the risks of a more pronounced economic downturn. Therefore, as the UK’s growth outlook starts to brighten, it is conceivable that valuations will stabilise in anticipation of an economic recovery. However, additional catalysts are necessary for the UK market to fully realise its potential. For the time being, adopting a patient approach may be the most prudent strategy for capitalising on future opportunities.

Contact us

0203 418 0257



Source: https://www.brooksmacdonald.com/insights/british-isa

Related Articles

Request a call back