RIA Optimism on U.S. Economy Slipping, Survey Shows

Registered investment advisor (RIA) optimism on the U.S. economy has slipped in recent months, and more than half are skeptical that stocks will continue to rise through the end of the year, according to TD Ameritrade Institutional’s RIA Mid-Year Sentiment Survey.

While still strong, the survey shows that 60% of RIAs are optimistic about the U.S. economy, compared to 68% in January, while 56% doubt the stock market’s momentum will continue through the end of the year. In fact, 22% of respondents believe the stock market will decline in the second half of 2017, up from 12% at the beginning of the year.

When looking beyond the U.S., the outlook is moving in the opposite direction, with 64% of RIA respondents optimistic about the global economy, compared with 55% at the beginning of the year.

Government Policies ‘Pack Biggest Punch’

When asked what issue would have the greatest impact on their firm, nearly half (48%) of respondents said President Trump’s proposed tax plan would. Interestingly, 23% of respondents believe the DOL’s fiduciary rule will have a positive impact on their business, while 62% had a neutral response, believing that it will not impact them at all.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Contrary to the “lazy, hazy image of summer,” RIAs maintain a firm pace with the change of seasons, using the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day to handle operational and planning matters that take typically take a backseat, TD Ameritrade said in releasing the survey.

In fact, nearly 4 in 10 RIAs say they do more strategic planning work at this time of year than at any other time, and 36% spend more time on technology issues. And nearly 30% spend more time on staff training and development.

“Summer may conjure up images of beaches and barbecues, but for independent advisors, it’s business-as-usual,” said Tom Nally, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional. “RIAs are using this time of year to stay connected to clients, improve their business and onboard young talent.”

The survey findings further show that 75% of RIAs say they maintain either the same or higher level of contact with clients in the summer.

The results are based on a phone survey of 300 RIAs managing an average of $166 million in assets conducted June 13-26, 2017, by MaritzCX on behalf of TD Ameritrade Institutional. Participants were asked to share their views on economy, the outlook for their firms and the RIA market overall.

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