An equity market rebound in August seems to have boosted planners’ spirits.
The Retirement Advisor Confidence Index — Financial Planning’s monthly barometer of business conditions for wealth managers — rebounded modestly for September, rising to 53.2 from 51.5. The overall index score is also slightly higher than in September 2013.
Asked to focus on August activity, planners reported increased fees as stocks rebounded and assets under management increased. Advisors also reported a shift to equities from cash, citing greater risk tolerance among clients. After a seven-point drop in perceived client risk tolerance the prior month, the index’s risk component jumped more than eight points and moved back into positive territory. (RACI readings of less than 50 indicate declines, while readings of more than 50 indicate expansion.)
Index components showed parallel moves toward higher equity allocations and away from cash — another reversal from the previous month. “Most clients feel more comfortable about the U.S. economy and want to weight equities more and fixed income less,” said one advisor.
Another cited long-term vision: “Most retirement plan clients know they have several years until they must take distributions, so there is less worry about an allocation to equities.”
But jitters remain: One respondent said clients are still “nervous because of the high values of both the stock and bond market indices. ... More often than not, they simply remain … paralyzed.”
The index is composed of 10 factors — including asset allocations, investment product recommendations, economic and risk factors, taxes and planning fees — to track trends in wealth management business cycles.