Advisors reversed course in August, reporting higher income, higher equity allocations and a jump in client risk tolerance, according to a monthly Financial Planning survey.

The Retirement Advisor Confidence Index - Financial Planning's barometer of business conditions for wealth managers - bounced to a reading of 56.1 after sliding to 53.5 for July.

Risk tolerance was once again a key factor, jumping 10 points to 57.7 after an almost 20-point slide the prior month. And although one respondent griped about a "typical summer slowdown," advisors reported a 4.6-point jump in fees charged for retirement services, reversing the previous month's drop. Other notable changes included an increase in allocations to equities and a drop in cash.

Several advisors reported an increase in 401(k) contributions. "Improving employment conditions are pushing companies that do not offer benefits to explore a more comprehensive package," one respondent said.

The survey also found investment gains were boosting client optimism and client accounts - and, in turn, fees on assets under management. "Overall, my clients are starting to feel optimistic about the stock market," one advisor said. "Even the so-called conservative investors want to take more stock risk." Yet there were notes of caution. "People's appetite for risk is much greater than seen in a very long time," said another respondent, calling the trend "somewhat concerning."

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. RACI readings of less than 50 indicate declines, while readings of more than 50 indicate expansion.

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