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Advisors focusing on portfolio construction as macro worries fade

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After a year of stressing over macro government and economic factors beyond their control, many advisors appear to be taking a more pragmatic approach, refocusing instead on how best to manage clients' portfolios.

That's the chief finding from the latest advisor survey from Fidelity Institutional Asset Management, in which far more respondents identified portfolio management as a top concern than any other factor.

That breaks a streak of four consecutive quarters in which advisors, in the same poll, had cited government and economic factors as their chief concern. In the latest installment of Fidelity's Advisor Investment Pulse survey, just 12% of respondents expressed concern about government and economic issues, down from 29% in the previous iteration.

In all, 24% of the advisors polled said that they are principally focused on portfolio management. Fifteen percent of respondents said that they are eyeing risk volatility and another 15% cited concerns about the market level, with some anticipating that a significant correction could be looming.


A Fidelity representative explains that the survey aims to "provide a helpful benchmark for advisors" so that they can measure their own priorities and concerns against those of their peers.
Bob Litle, who heads up intermediary sales at Fidelity Institutional Asset Management, sees advisors' concern about market volatility and a potential correction as an argument in favor of "long-term and diversified strategies for portfolio construction" on a strategic level that looks beyond individual investment products.

"We've observed that successful advisors focus on their framework for evaluating strategies and matching them to clients' objectives as much as they focus on the products," Litle says in a statement.

In a nod to advisors' concerns about volatility and downside risk, Fidelity is recommending they look at a mix of active and passive investments, and that they cast a wide net in seeking out diversification and broad exposures.

In addition to the other concerns advisors cited, 11% of the survey respondents said that they were keeping a close eye on potential interest rate movement, up from 5% in the last quarter's poll.

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