Emerging markets as an asset class has been out of favour among UK investors for the past few years. But now portfolio managers and investors alike are buying back into emerging market equities and EM debt, although still quite cautiously.
The latest Lloyds Bank Investor Sentiment Index for August shows positive sentiment towards emerging markets equities reached 21.1 per cent in August, a 5.1 per cent increase on the previous month and 5.1 per cent on this time last year.
Markus Stadlmann, chief investment officer at Lloyds Private Banking, says: "UK investors are taking more of a shine to them, and so are we. Having generally minimised our exposure to emerging markets for a number of years, we have been increasing our allocation to EM equities (and bonds) during the last 15 months.
"We feel long-term valuations are showing as fair, while investment risks are significantly below historic levels."
In the past, the perceived political risks in emerging market countries have often deterred investors from buying into the investment story.
There can be geopolitical concerns to take into account when allocating to these economies. North Korea has been stoking tensions most recently, while Brazil has overcome several political issues with the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff still fresh in investors' minds.
But Cathrine Gether, portfolio manager of Skagen Kon-Tiki, notes: "When it comes to political risk, this has been increasing in EM over the past few years, but relative to developed markets it has been fairly stable. Seeing what is going on in the world at the moment it is fair to ask whether the risk in the short term is not actually higher in developed markets.
"We could argue EM are at least used to dealing with political risk and it might therefore be better reflected in valuations already."
This guide will attempt to establish whether the BRIC countries remain an investment opportunity, whether emerging market equities are looking more attractive than bonds and the investment potential in often-overlooked emerging Europe and the outlook for emerging markets more widely.
Contributors to this guide: Gary Greenberg, head of global emerging markets at Hermes Investment Management; Sergey Dergachev, lead portfolio manager for emerging market debt at Union Investment; Arrash Zafari, portfolio manager for Quaero capital’s small and mid cap investment team; Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore Group; Maarten-Jan Bakkum, senior emerging markets strategist at NN Investment Partners; Thomas Smith, manager of the Neptune Latin America fund; Dan Tubbs, head of the global emerging markets equity research and portfolio management team at Mirabaud Asset Management; Darius McDermott, managing director at Chelsea Financial Services; Salman Ahmed, chief investment strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers; Claudia Calich, manager of the M&G Emerging Markets Bond fund; Ross Teverson, head of strategy, emerging markets and Alejandro Arevalo, fund manager, emerging market debt at Jupiter Asset Management; Colin Croft, manager of the Jupiter Emerging European fund; Pavel Laberko, emerging markets equity manager and Koon Chow, emerging markets fixed income strategist at Union Bancaire Privée; Wei Li, head of EMEA investment strategy for iShares; Sandra Crowl, a member of the investment committee at Carmignac; Michael Hasenstab, chief investment officer at Templeton Global Macro; Mark Williams, head of Asia income at Liontrust; FE Analytics; and MSCI.