Financial-advisor sentiment declined last month, largely on the view that stock market performance had outpaced the economy.
WealthManagement.com’s monthly Advisor Confidence Index, which is based on a monthly survey of about 150 financial advisors, fell to 118.0 in February from 123.0 in January, a drop of around 4%. On the ACI, a reading over 100 is at least generally positive. Anything below that connotes negative sentiment.
All four of the ACI’s components were down last month, with views on the shape of the U.S. economy six months out (down 5.3%) leading the charge south.
In the comment portion of the February ACI survey, Bruce Porter of SMB Financial Services in Lake Oswego, Ore., suggests the rollback in advisor confidence last month is linked to a sense that market valuations — which rose off mild reversals in January — have gotten ahead of the economy. “The man and woman on the street is not doing nearly as well as the markets are,” he writes. Meanwhile, Kevin Stockton of Horter Investment Management in Denver suggests the U.S. stock market — on the rise for five years now — is overdue for a slump. “Historically, U.S. markets have experienced a major decline every four years,” he writes. “Cycle theory suggests that advances that extend beyond the norm are usually followed by more forceful declines.”
Investor confidence also suffered last month. Spectrem Group’s Affluent Investor Confidence Index fell 8 points in January for a reading of -2, a four-month low. Spectrem, whose confidence gauge is based on interviews with 250 “financial decision makers” in households with at least $500,000 in liquid assets, emphasizes that the survey was conducted at a time when “the market was experiencing sell-offs due a wide range of economic issues dominating financial news, including volatility in emerging markets and continued uncertainty about what — if any — further actions the Federal Reserve would take under new chair Janet Yellen regarding its stimulus program.”