January Market Bump Cheers Advisors: Poll

Strong start to year raises optimism, SEI finds

Advisors' optimism on the behavior of the stock market has zoomed upward by 50% after three weeks of strong showings, according to a new Quick Poll from SEI, which was completed in early February by more than 100 advisors, the majority of whom manage more than $50 million in assets.

The results, released Thursday, showed that 90% of advisors surveyed expect the S&P to show positive returns for 2012; that is an 18% increase over results of a similar poll taken in mid-January. Even more impressive is the fact that 50% of advisors expect the market to gain more than 5%.

Steve Onofrio, managing director of SEI Advisor Network, said in a statement, "Investors and advisors, alike, have been waiting for an excuse to become more positive. Whether it's the trend in unemployment numbers, positive corporate profits, or lack of bad news, the investing sentiment has shifted to a more optimistic attitude. While we aren't out of the woods yet, it's important for advisors, and investors, to recognize we are in the early stages of a changeover and position their portfolios accordingly. With that said, there are still global risks including Greece, Syria, Iran, and Europe, that could tilt sentiment negative again."

Advisors were also more cheerful about other aspects of the economy. Over 25% said that the "Pessimism Bubble" hovering over the economy will burst in 2012, and 87% said the odds of a payroll tax cut extension past February are better than 50/50. Almost a third said investor sentiment can be characterized by the phrase, "the tide is turning."

Last but not least, more than half said that the most accurate investing phrases for the present are "Bull markets climb walls of worry," and "A rising tide lifts all boats."

John A. Scott, CEO of Cedrus in Golden, Colo., said in a statement, "Unfortunately, investors have become so used to the volatility that they now view any change, positive or negative, as a blip on the radar, rather than a true directional movement. Yet, clearly, advisors are more confident in the markets."

He added, "Advisors have a responsibility to educate and keep their clients informed on happenings in the markets to make sure they understand the true fundamental drivers of performance. I view this as an ideal opportunity for advisors to capitalize on the many investors who are disappointed with their past performance and are looking for a new advisor to better position them to attain their varied goals in any market condition."

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