Uncertainty has caused clients to cut back on their allocations to both global and domestic asset classes.
Worries about Chinese economic growth and a wavering U.S. stock market had clients hesitant to take risks, according to the 330 advisors surveyed in this month's Global Asset Allocation Tracker survey.
The overall theme: "Cash is king."
"Clients are nervous and do not want to increase their allocations at this moment," one advisor said.
The result? "Clients seem to have a lower risk tolerance to start the year."
While many advisors raised concerns about the long-term implications of their clients' caution, some said they thought the inclination to be bearish might be short-lived.
One advisor wrote his clients "are more bullish long-term for their retirement plans and are tilting their allocation to global allocations, which is where most of the long-term growth is."
Advisors said that falling oil prices and the Fed's recent decision to raise interest rates were other sources of client anxiety.
One advisor said she was pushing clients away from global investing in general: "Central banking of all nations is very unclear and causing pause in the direction of the economy worldwide."
However, despite concerns about interest rates, advisors noted a slight uptick in allocation to U.S. bonds.
"Clients have been hesitant to place any money in the international space and are allocating to cash, bonds and target-date funds," one advisor said.
Amid all the uncertainty and global concerns, there remains long-term optimism for some.
"Clients are concerned about the global economy," one advisor wrote. "But we believe long-term it will turn around."