Advisor confidence was essentially flat in December, as advisors reported greater risk tolerance but stayed the course on allocations.

The Retirement Advisor Confidence Index - Financial Planning's monthly barometer of business conditions for wealth managers - eased 0.3 points to a reading of 55.4.

Index components related to client portfolio allocations showed little change, with a 4.5-point jump in risk tolerance turning up as the index's biggest mover.

Perhaps most notable was the discrepancy between client risk tolerance and changes in allocation, which were minimal. "We run mostly conservative retirement styles, which are attractive to many investors," said one advisor who took part in the survey. "They tend to be more adventurous in their retail accounts."

Advisors also reported an increase in clients' tax liabilities after a year of big asset growth. "Tax liability of clients has grown because of end-of-year rebalancing," another respondent noted, echoing other comments.

The booming market and higher tax rates also seemed to be driving an uptick in business, with advisors reporting that clients wanted to find more deductions. "I have had a much higher than normal number of prospects coming in," one planner reported.

The survey asked advisors to focus on November activity. 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. Retirement Advisor Confidence Index readings of less than 50 indicate declines, while readings of more than 50 indicate expansion.

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