Well-to-do Americans are kicking off 2015 in high spirits, according to Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s latest Investor Pulse Poll. The firm says 93% of respondents to the semiannual survey, most recently conducted in fourth-quarter 2014, think their portfolio will hold its value or show a gain by the end of this year. That’s even better than the 90% who gave the same answer last summer.
Their mood about the overall financial environment improved, too — at least when talking about the U.S. Morgan Stanley says 76% of poll participants think the domestic economy will be just as healthy or healthier in 12 months. In the last poll, 71% expressed that opinion.
The poll canvasses more than 1,000 investors with at least $100,000 in investable assets. According to a summary by On Wall Street, a third of respondents have more than $1 million.
In a press release, Morgan Stanley breaks down where the wealthy see trouble spots and opportunities. Conflicts abroad are their biggest concern (86%), and nearly three-quarters say the U.S. is the best place to invest. (Interestingly, Japan comes in second, at 42%, just ahead of India and China.) Most participants plan to avoid Ukraine, the Middle East and Russia.
In keeping with their overall optimism, poll respondents anticipate putting 44% of their portfolios in equities. Among those with $1 million or more to invest, the allocation rises to 49%. Their favorite stock sector for the year ahead is technology; consumer discretionary stocks are at the bottom of the list.
Meanwhile, Spectrem Group’s Millionaire Confidence Index, compiled monthly, shows optimism among households with $1 million-plus in investable assets slipping to a three-month low. Survey respondents also say they’ll be trimming their equity investments. In a statement, Spectrem president George Walper attributes the pullback to market volatility at the start of this year. “Following the recent market swings, these investors are indicating that in the coming month they will be investing more in bond mutual funds and cash, and less in equities,” he says in the statement.
How to account for the difference in sentiment between Morgan Stanley’s respondents and Spectrem’s? For one thing, the wirehouse poll sample is much larger: Spectrem bases its results on only 250 households. For another, because the Spectrem index is monthly, it closely tracks market movements more closely, while Morgan Stanley’s survey may reflect longer-term views.