Mirroring the equity markets the past several months, advisor confidence is surging. Showing a strong recovery after a drop earlier this spring, Financial Planning's Retirement Advisor Confidence Index rose in May for a second month to a fresh high. Planners reported that clients were placing more faith in the equity markets.

The index - a monthly barometer of business conditions for wealth managers - climbed 1.2 points to 59.0, according to a Financial Planning survey of planning professionals, after rising to 57.8 in April, buoyed by increases in retirement planning activity and fees. The three-month average also rose to a new high of 56.9.

The May figure reflects single-digit increases in equity allocation and client risk tolerance, as well as similar declines in investment allocations to bonds and equities.

"Clearly, the enthusiasm for U.S. stocks has increased," reported one advisor. "Clients' risk appetite has also increased, and there are a lot more comments about how high the markets are."

Retirement contributions pulled back after a surge in April, and advisors also reported a change in emphasis after the Tax Day deadline.

"Getting through tax season has now re-shifted our focus through maximizing return and yield," one respondent said.

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 a decline relative to the prior month, while more than 50 indicate an expansion.

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