Survey of RIAs Shows Growing Optimism

The Charles Schwab Independent Advisor Outlook Study indicates that while advisers see cause to be optimistic, their clients are more unsure.  

Despite a market that continues to show signs of a struggle, independent registered investment advisers (RIAs) have a more positive outlook now than they did in January, when this survey was last conducted. 

  • Nearly 60% believe that a double-dip in the U.S. recession is unlikely in the next six months.  
  • More than 60% expect the S&P to increase during the same period.  
  • Nearly three quarters approve of Federal Reserve Board chief Bernanke’s performance and a majority thinks it is unlikely that the dollar will lose value in the next two years.  
  • 20% believe that the Fed will raise interest rates in the next six months, as opposed to the 40% who felt that way in January.  
  • Another boost of confidence can be seen in the amount of advisers expecting inflation to rise: 28% expect inflation to rise, whereas nearly half of those surveyed in January foresaw a rise.  

Even though the pool of advisers is trying to focus on the positive, investors are still weary. Roughly half of adviser’s clients feel less optimistic about the economy now than they did in 2009. Half also doubt their ability to retire on time, and a little less than half of these advisers’ clients are reducing general expenses.   

However, although investors may be circumspect about market conditions, trust in their RIA’s guidance remains high. The top two reasons advisers say that they are chosen by new clients continue to be a loss of trust in their previous firm and the desire for more personalized advice. The survey also found that 92% of participating advisers say they received new assets over the past six months.

In order to assuage some of these concerns, the study found that advisers are working to soften the blow expected by the potential 2011 tax increases.  Popular strategies include: 

  • Realizing capital losses to help offset the expected increase in the capital gains tax  
  • Converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs  
  • Selling investments that have appreciated in value in advance of capital gains tax increases 

Other tactics advisers plan to incorporate are investing more in U.S. large cap stocks, fixed income, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), alternative investments, and real estate.   

Nearly 1,200 independent investment advisers participated in this study, conducted between July 13 – July 23.