Optimism is rising among independent financial advisors, who, according to a new Schwab Institutional study, say they expect the S&P 500 to rise by the end of the year. The study shows more independent registered investment advisors (58 percent) also believe the stock market may have reached a bottom; this is a rise from 46 percent who gave the same response in January.

Responses from the study also show most independent financial advisors believe energy prices are likely to decrease in the next six months. Other findings include 71 percent of advisors feel the housing market will continue to soften; Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s approval rating has shot back up to 71 percent from 61 percent six months ago; and more than half (52 percent) of advisors think the Fed will raise rates again in the next six months.

Although still facing a volatile market environment, Bernie Clark, senior vice president of Schwab Institutional, insists investors are still less comfortable managing money on their own and are continuing to look to independent financial advisors for help.

“Advisors are known for their long-term perspective. They see a light at the end of this tunnel and are leading their clients toward it,” Clark said in a press release.

Clark’s sentiment stems from additional findings from the Schwab study, which revealed 85 percent of advisors report they won new clients during the past six months from full-service brokerage firms for two primary reasons; 66 percent say their new clients want more personal advice; and 57 percent say their new clients lost trust in their previous firm.
Eighty-four percent of advisors also said they won new clients who had been managing their own investments, and 52 percent said they won clients who were looking for more personalized advice.