Financial Planning launches its new Retirement Advisor Confidence Index, a monthly barometer of business conditions for the wealth management sector.

The August report - showing an initial reading of 48.7% - indicates that the planning industry experienced a modest contraction in activity, according to a Financial Planning survey of planning professionals. An RACI reading of less than 50% indicates a decline relative to the prior month, while more than 50% indicates an expansion.

The initial RACI reading was driven by advisors reporting that client assets were used to purchase bonds or debt-based securities, as well as a lower level of client risk tolerance and a rise in client tax liability. More optimistically, though, advisors said their fees were rising.

The RACI is comprised of 12 factors, including asset allocations, investment product recommendations, client recruitment and retention, economic and risk factors, taxes and plan fees. The results will be used to track ongoing trends and the prevailing direction of changes in wealth management business cycles.

The renewed push into bonds was reflected in comments by advisors who responded. "A few clients are more worried about the economy," one said. "Clients are very tentative to make any changes - good or bad," said another.