UK stocks managers are picking as Brexit looms

"New management, better balance sheets, improved regulation and the payment of fines has led to them becoming profitable institutions. 

"There are also some compelling opportunities to be found amongst retailers, a sector which many investors wouldn’t touch with a bargepole at the moment.

"The rise in online shopping and some of the valuations of these stocks would suggest it’s the end of the UK high street – but we think that this has created buying opportunities in stocks like Next and M&S."

Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen, agreed that opportunities exist with UK equities.

He said: "Areas of the UK stockmarket which are more domestically focused have been hit hard by Brexit uncertainty what has added to their woes is further concerns on the health of the global economy.

"The housebuilders and banks are very much shunned due to Brexit and their domestic focus.

"While property prices have come off their peaks in certain parts of the market we have yet to see a collapse or indeed this trend spreading across the rest of country.

"Property could rebound strongly if we get past Brexit.  Banks are in a similar position, a successful solution to Brexit could easily lead to a rise in interest rates which would boost margins." 

He added that the retail sector is interesting, as its woes are not specifically Brexit-related.

Mr Lowcock said: "The sector is hugely competitive and has been struggling against the big on retailers for the past few years as well as changes to shoppers behaviours.

"The survivors are able to gain market share but until the bloodletting is complete investors often just adopt a wait and see approach to the sector."

The latest Quarterly Brexometer Index from State Street, which looks at investor sentiment towards Brexit, found that appetite for holdings of UK assets has polarised during the first quarter of 2019.

Investors looking to increase allocations to UK equities rise to 19 per cent, the second highest figure since the third quarter of 2018, while those planning to decrease their exposure to the asset class rose to 22 per cent. 

Neil Mumford, chartered financial planner and director of Milestone Wealth Management, said: "With the uncertainty of Brexit still hanging over us, the UK is the worst performing developed market over the last three years. It has been shunned by overseas investors and many multi-managers are underweight the UK.

"However, it is home to some of the world’s biggest names and once we have a resolution to our exit from the EU, I feel that over a reasonable time horizon we will see a significant rally in UK equities."