In the face of geopolitical upheaval, advisors refrained from increasing equity positions in client portfolios.
Acts of terrorism and economic weakness in international markets made clients more risk averse, advisors say.
Clients even remained uncertain interest rates would rise, despite clear indications from the Fed that they would in the final weeks of 2015, according to our latest Global Asset Allocation Tracker survey, of 329 financial advisors.
"After the terrorist attacks in France, the outlook for many of my clients turned bearish," one planner said. "I was inundated with frantic phone calls through the weekend because my clients, as well as investors all over, were afraid of what the markets would do on Monday."
Another wealth manager said ISIS "played a major role in my clients reducing or not increasing their foreign exposure."
Advisors also continued to prepare client portfolios in advance of the Fed's decision on rates in mid-December.
"Overall, less money was allocated toward traditional bonds as [we] feel that returns are going to be negative in most bond asset classes, especially if the Fed increases interest rates," this planner said, adding that U.S. large-cap equities and dividend-paying stocks were also preferable.
One advisor was upbeat about central bank policies overseas: "With the global quantitative easing taking place, I feel the international markets will outperform over the next 24 to 36 months."