More than half of global investors have an optimistic outlook on investments in 2014.

Investor optimism has increased during the past year, according to new research.

This is among the key findings of “Schroders Global Investment Trends Report,” released today. The research polled 15,749 investors across 23 countries.

The report reveals that 56 percent of global investors have an optimistic outlook on investments in 2014, up from 48 percent in 2013. However, only 37 percent of U.S. investors feel more confident about investment opportunities this year, down from 59 percent in 2013. 

Among global investors, 70 percent believe equities will deliver the best returns, but only 41 percent believe equities in their own countries would yield the greatest returns, compared to 50 percent in 2013.

Almost one-third (31 percent) of global investors expect North American investments to provide the highest returns.  More than one-quarter (27 percent) of global investors believe Western Europe will deliver the strongest investment opportunities in 2014; 12 percent feel this way about the Middle East.

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • 70 percent of U.S. investors believe North America will provide 2014’s top-performing investments;
  • 56 percent of U.S. investors believe U.S. equities will likely generate the best returns, and 22 percent plan to invest in multi-asset funds (diversified portfolios composed of equity, fixed income and alternative investments);
  • 15 percent of U.S. investors say emerging market equities will produce the strongest returns, while 14 percent have the most confidence in global equities;
  • 46 percent of global investors said saving for pensions and retirement is their major objective for 2014.  But, only 5 percent have a 10-year horizon for investment returns, and 61 percent have an investment horizon of one to five years;
  • The average time horizon for U.S. investors is six years — the longest in any of the 23 countries represented in the report.

“Our report demonstrates that while European and Asian investors have renewed confidence in the equity markets, U.S. investors are a bit more cautious,” says Carter Sims, Head of U.S. Intermediary Distribution, Schroders. “The fears over the impact of QE tapering and the fact that 2013 saw resurgent U.S. Stock market growth and economic recovery have played a role in that shift of confidence. Seeking professional financial advice should be a focus for investors as they look to move into new areas and benefit from global growth and opportunities.”