2021 second best year on record for retail fund sales

Savers invested £43.4bn in retail funds in 2021, approaching the record 2017 net retail sales of £48.6bn, data published today by the Investment Association (IA) reveals. 2021 was a year characterised by continued high inflows to responsible investment funds, outflows from UK equity funds, and an increased appetite for active-style management.

The key findings for 2021 in the fund market show:

  • Inflows to responsible investment funds totaled a record £16bn, up £4.3bn on 2020.
  • Most inflows in the retail fund market went to active funds in 2021, with active funds pulling £25.2bn, compared to £18.3bn to tracker funds.
  • Outflows from UK equity funds reached a record £5.3bn in 2021 - larger than the previous record of £4.9bn in 2016, when the UK voted to leave the European Union.
  • Equity, fixed income and mixed asset funds all saw inflows of more than £10bn each, with equity funds being the most popular asset class in 2021 (£14.8bn).

Key findings for December 2021 include:

  • December saw net retail sales of £2.3bn, with equity funds being the most popular asset class seeing £1bn of inflows.
  • Global remained the best-selling IA sector for the seventh consecutive month, and was the best-selling sector every month of 2021, excluding May.
  • Tracker funds outsold active funds in December, with inflows of £1.3bn compared to £930m for active funds.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association said:

“Investors put their lockdown savings to work in 2021, with near record inflows to retail funds in 2021 helping investors take part in the global Covid-19 market bounce-back. This was particularly so in the first half of the year, when monthly inflows into funds peaked at £6.2bn at the end of the 2021 ISA season in April. While new variants of Covid-19 appeared throughout the year, every month of 2021 saw net inflows - against a backdrop of rising prices eroding the value of saving in cash.

“The return of significant inflation in the second half of 2021 indeed left its mark, with falling flows into bond funds, but overall investor confidence remained resilient. Growing focus on climate change in the year Glasgow hosted COP26 also helped take flows into responsible investment funds to new heights.”



Funds Under Management  

Net Retail Sales  

Net Institutional Sales  

December 2021   

£1.6 trillion 

£2.3 billion 

-£943 million 

December 2020 

£1.4 trillion 

£6.2 billion 

£4.8 billion 


The five best-selling Investment Association sectors for December 2021 were: 


  1. Global with net retail sales of £834 million.
  2. Short Term Money Market was second with net retail sales of £557 million.
  3. Mixed Investment 40-85% Shares followed with net retail sales of £366 million.
  4. Volatility Managed was fourth with net retail sales of £354 million.
  5. North America was fifth with £291 million.  

The worst-selling Investment Association sector in December 2021 was UK All Companies, which experienced outflows of £781 million. 


Equity funds was the best-selling asset class in December 2021, with £1 billion in net retail sales. 

Money Market funds was the second best-selling asset class, with £572 million of inflows. 

Fixed Income funds was the third best-selling asset class in December 2021, with £288 million of inflows.

Other (which includes the Targeted Absolute Return, Volatility Managed, and Unclassified sectors) was fourth with inflows of £237 million.  

Mixed Asset funds was the fifth best-selling asset class in December 2021, with £62 million of inflows.

Property funds saw £62 million of inflows.


Global was the best-selling equity fund region in December 2021, with net retail sales of £1 billion. 

North America was second with net retail sales of £307 million. 

Europe was third with net retail sales of £127 million.

Japan was forth with net retail sales of £77 million.

Asia and UK funds both experienced outflows in December 2021. Asia saw net retail outflows of £62 million and UK funds saw £899 million of outflows. 


Tracker funds saw a net retail inflow of £1.3 billion in December 2021. Tracker funds under management stood at £298 billion as of the end of December. Their overall share of industry funds under management was 18.8%. 


Responsible investment funds saw a net retail inflow of £1.2 billion in December 2021. Responsible investment funds under management stood at £89 billion as of the end of December. Their overall share of industry funds under management was 5.6%. 


In December, gross retail sales for UK fund platforms totalled £12 billion, representing a market share of 50.8%.  

Gross retail sales through Other UK Intermediaries including IFAs were £6 billion, representing a market share of 25.3%.  

Direct gross retail sales in December were £891 million, representing a market share of 3.8%.  


Notes to Editors:

This data includes the six new sectors launched from the Investment Association’s (IA) Global and Specialist sectors on Monday 13 September 2021. 

Currently, the two sectors are among the largest within the classification scheme, with 471 funds included within the IA Global sector and 332 in the IA Specialist sector. As the retail fund market evolves and grows, the creation of the new sectors will help investors to more easily find similar types of funds. The decision to create the new sectors was taken by the IA Sectors Committee after a public consultation with the industry and sector users.  

New country - regional equity sectors:  

  • Latin America
  • India/Indian Subcontinent

Industry sectors: 

  • Financials and Financial Innovation
  • Healthcare

Alternative investment approaches: 

  • Infrastructure
  • Commodity/Natural Resources

To see a breakdown of the data referenced in this press release, please see all of the tables here

The Investment Association's figures for fund sales cover retail and institutional sales in authorised unit trusts and open ended investment companies (OEICs) provided by our membership to UK investors. The figures do not include investment trusts and ETFs. 

Each month small revisions to figures have been made since the previous press release. This reflects additional information received by The Investment Association. 

Net retail sales comprise total retail sales minus repurchases (including switches between funds), thus the figures can result in a negative figure or outflow. 

* Regional breakdown for equity funds 

The following Investment Association sectors have been grouped together to compile the figures for regional equity sales: 

Asia: Asia Pacific excl. Japan; Asia Pacific incl. Japan; China/Greater China; India/Indian Subcontinent

Europe: Europe excl. UK; Europe incl. UK; Europe Smaller Companies

Global: Global; Global Emerging Markets; Global Equity Income; Specialist; Healthcare; Technology and Techology innovation; Financials and Financial innovation

Japan: Japan; Japanese Smaller Companies

North America: North America; North America Smaller Companies

UK: UK All Companies; UK Equity Income; UK Smaller Companies

Direct Channels 

Direct includes sales forces and tied agents, private clients and other direct to investor sales without intermediation. 

** The Investment Association’s ISA figures are based on information collected from fund companies and five fund platforms (AEGON, Fidelity, Hargreaves Lansdown, Quilter, and Transact) where they are the ISA provider. Fund business through other ISA providers such as wealth managers is not included. The Investment Association’s figures cover about three-quarters of the whole of the market for funds held in ISAs. 

For further information, please contact:

Katie Martin, Head of Communications: [email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4655

About the Investment Association (IA):

  • The IA champions UK investment management, supporting British savers, investors and businesses. Our 270 members manage £9.4 trillion of assets and the investment management industry supports 114,000 jobs across the UK.
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