After two months of steady growth, advisor sentiment seems to be taking a breather. While risk tolerance continued to edge upward, declines in client activity sent Financial Planning's Retirement Advisor Confidence Index backward for June. The index - a monthly barometer of business conditions for wealth managers - dropped to 57.1 after a May reading of 59.0, according to a Financial Planning survey of planning professionals.
The moderate reading reflected a mix of factors, and seemed to separate advisors' reports of business activity from their feelings about the markets at large.
Two index components registered big changes: The amount of dollar contributions to retirement plans tumbled 9.3 percentage points after a big run-up before Tax Day, and the total number of retirement products sold to customers also slid 8.1 points after hitting new highs in the previous two months.
"People were making contributions to retirement plans in April prior to tax filing deadlines," one advisor noted.
Yet at the same time, risk tolerance rose slightly, and while advisors seemed to be easing off higher allocations to equities, they showed little change on allocations to cash and bonds.
"Our clients overall are becoming more and more concerned about U.S. bonds as interest rates could start rising," another advisor said. "This has driven a higher percentage overall of their investments to stocks and has forced us to look at other bonds, such as emerging market bonds, and alternative asset classes."
The index uses 10 factors - including asset allocations, investment product recommendations, economic and risk factors, taxes and planning fees - to track trends in wealth management business cycles. Index readings of less than 50 indicate a decline relative to the prior month, while more than 50 indicate an expansion.