THE FTSE-100 this week hit its highest level since May 2008, amid signs of growing belief in shares by private investors.
Equities have outsold bond funds for three months in a row, according to latest data from the Investment Management Association, with UK equity funds in particular making a comeback in November.
Fixed income fund sales were at their lowest since November 2008, while net retail sales of equity funds were at their highest since April 2011 – before the market lurch in August that year. Out in front as the biggest sellers were global equity funds.
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Daniel Godfrey, IMA chief executive, said: "With record funds under management, the funds industry is now managing funds worth over 50% more than in August 2008, just before Lehman's collapse and the full onset of the global financial crisis."
Men are much more bullish than women about the market this year, according to a survey by Saga Share Direct among over-50s.
"Men are much more positive about the future, with a net 22% believing in a 2013 bullish stock mark, whereas women are the bears – with a net 2% predicting a fall in the FTSE-100," says Saga.
It goes on: "Differences are sharpest between socio-economic groups – with wealthier ABs showing a net positive score of +18%, while those in socio-economic group DE on balance believe the stock market will crash – with a net 6% thinking there will be a fall in the stock market over the coming 12 months."
Scotland was among the three most positive areas with net score of +15%.
But anyone seeking investment advice from their bank will, under the new charging regime from this month, now be charged fees, often on a percentage basis designed to deter all but wealthier investors, according to research by Money Management magazine.
RBS is charging £500 to set up a financial plan and a fee when the client invests, which starts at 1.25% for assets up to £500,000.
Platform investment charges start at 0.175% for assets less than £100,000.
Customers can opt for ongoing advice at the outset which is charged at 0.5% a year plus VAT, and is capped at £2000
Lloyds requires a minimum £100,000 portfolio.
It is charging an upfront fee starting at 2.5% on the first £300,000 invested, dropping to 1.5% on amounts between £300,000 and £1 million.
Platform charges on pension products range from 0.1% to 0.6% per year depending on the investment amount.
Lloyds is providing free financial reviews where there is no new investment.
HSBC, with a £50,000 minimum portfolio size, is charging an upfront fee of £950 on assets up to £75,000, which moves to 1.3% on assets between £75,001 and £150,000, with a maximum fee of £1500.
This drops to 1% for assets between £150,001 and £500,000 with a maximum fee of £4000, and to 0.8% for assets between £500,001 and £1m with a maximum fee of £6500.
There is no platform charge. HSBC offers free reviews within 12 months of the original investment.
Nationwide is charging 3% initial on investments and 0.5% for ongoing advice.
The platform charge starts at 0.65% for assets up to £11,000, and drops to 0.24% on assets over £20,000.
Santander has not disclosed its charging structure.
The bank suspended its investment advice service last month over training issues.