While market volatility trumps government policy as the top conversation that advisors are having with clients, advisors are also telling their clients to expect continued volatility throughout next year, according to Russell Investments’ fourth quarter Financial Professional Outlook survey. It also found advisors are concerned about slow growth and expect the 2012 presidential election to influence the markets.

For its quarterly outlook survey, Russell collected the opinions of 313 advisors working for 132 national, regional and independent advisory firms nationwide on topics like market sentiment and market volatility.

Russell’s fourth-quarter survey found that advisors continue to be far more optimistic than investors, although both have become somewhat less optimistic than they were in September. Advisors, the survey found, are optimistic (66%) about the capital markets for the next few years, but they say their clients are not nearly as positive (9%). More than 200 advisors (40%) are telling clients to “expect continued volatility ahead,” Russell notes, to “expect slow growth” (15%), and “expect the election to influence the markets” (13%).

While advisors polled said that volatile markets are the most popular topic of conversation for investors (63%), government policy (53%)—which was the leader last quarter—was the second hottest topic, and a virtual tie took place between portfolio performance (44.2%) and global events (43.9%). This contrasts with advisor-initiated conversations, Russell says, where the favorite topics are portfolio rebalancing (49%), global events (44%) and government policy (35%).

Despite volatile markets, advisors say they still see opportunity, with 34% looking to build their business as a top priority. Another 20% want to deliver better client service, 19% want to improve client communication and 17% hope to acquire clients, the survey found.