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Client contributions to retirement programs rise

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As tax season came to a close, advisers reported their clients were busy contributing to their retirement plans up until the April 17 deadline.

This month’s Retirement Adviser Confidence Index — Financial Planning’s monthly barometer of business conditions for wealth managers — remained comfortably in positive territory, edging up 0.1 point to 55.

Among the survey’s findings, advisers noticed their clients contributed more to retirement plans, setting the index’s record so far this year: Total contributions received for retirement plans went up 2.7 points to 67.2.

“The 2015 IRS tax deadlines provided a significant bump this past 30 days, no doubt. Hey, we’ll take it,” wrote one adviser.

The noted seasonal boost in retirement planning activity helped raise fees charged for retirement services slightly over 4 points to 57.6.

One adviser noted: “We got additional rollover business, which is why we saw a bump in fees.”


Other advisers speculated that the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule would have an effect on their fee business moving forward.

“I will probably raise fees on 401(k) plans going forward due to fiduciary standards,” said one adviser.

Another adviser remarked: “[The rule] will change the way we do retirement business, but it is still early in the process to know how we need to change.”

Perceived client risk tolerance rose 2 points to 56.4: “The stock market increases have emboldened clients to take more risk,” wrote one adviser. Advisers also noticed their clients continued to move away from cash, with allocations dropping 3.4 points.

“There was a better overall feeling from clients when the Dow crossed over 18,000. We put more cash to work,” said one adviser.

But some advisers said clients remained cautious due to concern about oil prices, global market trends and how the result of the upcoming presidential election may affect markets. “Oil seems to affect retirement product performance in addition to the political election landscape,” an adviser wrote.

The Retirement Adviser Confidence 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. RACI readings below 50 indicate deteriorating business conditions, while readings over 50 indicate improvements.