Ownership of UK Quoted Shares: the 2016 Update

The Office for National Statistics has recently published its latest statistical bulletin of the share ownership of UK companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange. According to the new figures, the proportion of ordinary shares owned by foreign investors is at another record high, reaching 53.9% at the end of 2016, compared to 53.7% in 2014. At FTSE 100 level, rest of the world investors hold 56% of shares, up almost one percentage point from two years ago. The proportion of quoted shares owned by investors outside of the UK has grown significantly over the past four decades, as a result of the increasing internationalisation of the UK stock market and the ease with which overseas residents can invest in UK-quoted shares. Within the rest of the world group, North American institutional investors (unit trusts, pension funds and other financial institutions) continued to increase their UK holdings, getting closer to the 50% share of the group. European investors hold around 26%, followed by Asians with around 15% of the foreign investors share. Another notable point is the stability of the percentage of shares held by individual investors, after decades of marked decline. In 1963 individuals owned approximately 54% of UK quoted shares, dropping to around 10% in 2012. In 2014, individual ownership increased to an estimated 12.4%, while in 2016 it stood at 12.3%. As concerns UK-based institutional investors, the latest numbers show a slight increase in the holdings of unit trusts and other financial institutions (such as index funds, hedge funds or socially responsible and ethical funds), and a slight fall in the holdings of insurance companies.