Brinker Capital, an investment management firm, released the results of its third quarter 2011 Brinker Barometer, a gauge of financial adviser confidence and sentiment regarding the economy, investing and market performance. Respondents were asked to reflect on key financial issues related to 2011, and to share their thoughts on the upcoming White House race.
“Growth and income are not clients’ top priorities any longer. Instead, what advisers say is keeping their clients awake at night is portfolio volatility. They want a smoother ride, and they want it now. Based on this priority, 54% of advisers who responded to the Barometer said they plan to increase their clients’ allocation to alternative investments in the coming year,” said John Coyne, president of Brinker Capital.
While advisers continue to view the country as being far from secure on its economic footing, 64% said their clients today are financially better off than they were in 2008-2009.
Asked to name what they fear most about the 2012 election, the majority of respondents (56%) said “Obama’s re-election,” followed by “continued gridlock in the next administration” (32%) and “a growing Tea Party influence” (7%).
Looking at the current candidate roster, Mitt Romney received the greatest support with 36%, followed by Herman Cain (22%)* and Barack Obama (16%). Eighty percent of respondents said that a candidate’s religion should not be a significant factor in judging their presidential qualifications.
When asked to name the one issue on which they would tell their favorite candidate to focus, 92% of advisers said "economic improvement through job growth." "Social values" (5%) and "stay the course and support the current administration's policies" (3%), came in distant second and third places.
Advisers did praise the Obama administration for what they saw as major accomplishments: 81% said "killing Bin Laden and other top Al-Qaeda operatives," followed by "economic stimulus package" and "health care reform (7% each), and "intervention in Libya" (3%).
Asked what they believed was the administration's greatest disappointment thus far, almost half of the respondents (46%) said "lack of job creation," followed by "inability to reduce the deficit" (33%), "compromise with Congress" (12%), "reform of major banks and Wall Street" (8%) and "inability to end the war in Afghanistan" (2%).
There was some division among respondents to the question of "who's most responsible for stifling U.S. economic growth," with 34% answering "the Obama administration," 24% noting "partisan politics," and 17% pointing to "government over-regulation."
One third of advisers (32%) think the financial markets will perform better in the final year of the Obama administration than in the previous three; 39% believe "market performance will be the same," and 29% said "worse."
The study was conducted online by Brinker Capital in October 2011 and was responded to by 427 financial advisers.
*Survey was conducted prior to Mr. Cain's suspension of his presidential bid.