After dropping significantly in June, Spectrem Group’s affluent investor confidence index fell to a record eight-month low in July.
The index dropped to a neutral ranking of -10 as the election nears and the economy has yet to yield any sure signs of relief.
“While affluent investors keep cognizant of stock market conditions and the economic environment, they are increasingly focused on how the political climate will affect their investment plans,” the report said.
According to Spectrem, the U.S. presidential election that is heating up between incumbent President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, represents a growing concern for the affluent. The number of investors who reported being most concerned about the political climate more than doubled from April, rising 7 percentage points to 12%.
Recent drops in the stock market and disappointing jobs numbers also were named as primary concerns for another 26% of affluent investors while 20% said the economy was their biggest worry.
As a result, affluent investors were less engaged in the market over the course of this month. The number of investors who reported they chose to “not invest” rose 1.6 points to an eight-month high of 37.2.
Investments in cash increased by 3.6 points to 25.8 while all other investment categories, especially real estate, drew back from last month. Bond mutual funds dropped 1.3 points to 7.3, the lowest reading in more than a year. Stock mutual funds also dipped slightly by 0.6 points to 31.
In a reversal of last month’s results, non-millionaire households (with more than $500,000 in investable assets) were the more likely than millionaire households to sit on the sidelines for the month of July. The number of affluent, non-millionaires who chose to not invest rose 4.4 points to 42.9.
Some millionaires also chose not to invest as that category fell 1.2 points to 31.8. Those who did invest preferred less risky cash options, which gained 9.8 points to reach 32.8, the highest rating since April 2011.
Spectrem also took stock of the affluent household outlook, which measures how confident wealthy investors are feeling about their day-to-day financial operations including income, assets and the overall economic picture. That number fell into negative territory for the first time since December, falling 6.25 points to -5.01.
Non-millionaire households were responsible for a large portion of that decline as the number who reported that they were confidence in the economy plunged 37.85 points to a bearish -31.63, the biggest single-month drop in a year. Millionaire’s outlook also dropped by 2.55 points to -0.17.
A bright spot in the report was that affluent household income rose for the first time in two months and gained 3.91 points to reach 8.74.
The indexes are ranked from bearish to bullish with -51 to -31 as bearish, -11 to -30 being mildly bearish, 10 to -10 being neutral, 11 to 30 being mildly bullish and 31 to 51 as bullish.
The survey records the results of 250 monthly interviews with financial decision-makers who are in charge of at least $500,000 in investable assets.