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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

FSI Advisors Weigh In on Presidential Race, Economy & More

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Among the Financial Services Institute’s (FSI) key initiatives this year has been our effort to provide ongoing insight into the mindset of our independent financial advisor members, both for the benefit of the FSI community and the broader financial services industry. As we know, independent financial advisors, who work closely with Main Street clients every day, have a unique viewpoint on the intersection of politics and the economy. 

This week we released a poll of our members surveying their thoughts on the crucial issues currently affecting their practices and clients. This poll expanded on the one we conducted last February, with nearly 2,400 financial advisors completing the survey. 

Not surprisingly, the latest poll found that financial advisors have strong opinions on the direction of the country. The results showed that the economy and taxes are weighing heavily on the minds of advisors, who are bracing themselves and their clients for a stagnant economy and an increase in capital gains taxes.

On the election, respondents overwhelmingly cited former Governor Mitt Romney as their preferred choice for president (by a margin of 81% to 15% over President Obama, with 4% voting “Other”). The results, however, were closer on the question of which candidate would actually win in November (47% of advisors believed that Obama will have a second term, while 53% suspect Romney will win). 

On other political and policy issues influencing our industry, a majority of advisors predicted that Republicans will take control of the Senate this year; a majority also expressed their belief that the Department of Labor should not revise the definition of “fiduciary.” Most respondents expected both equities and the economy to hold steady for the remainder of 2012. 

Financial advisors are uniquely positioned to comment on the pocketbook issues impacting their clients and the broader economy. FSI is and will always be a non-partisan organization. We work with members of both parties who share our goal of creating a healthier, more business-friendly regulatory environment for our members. As we approach November, FSI believes that members of both political parties would be well-served to consider our members’ views. 

Survey Results:

Question 1: Who do you believe will win the race for the White House this fall, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney (not who do you want to win, but who will end up winning)?

Barack Obama  1,104 47%
√  Mitt Romney     1,244 53%


Question 2: If the election was held today, would you vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

  August 2012 February 2012
Barack Obama  365 15% 536 19
√  Mitt Romney     1,907 81% 2,356 81
Other 88 4% NA NA

Question 3: What is the top issue affecting your vote for president this year?

√  Economy/Jobs   1,501 63%
Foreign Affairs  17 1%
Healthcare   177 7%
National Defense  15 1%
National Debt  492 21%
Other 171 7%


Question 4: Will the U.S. Senate stay in Democrat control or shift to Republican control?

  August 2012 February 2012
Democrat   699 30% 901 31
√  Republican    1,649 70% 1,996 69

Question 5: Do you believe capital gains taxes are heading up or down?

  August 2012 February 2012
√  Up       2221 95% 2605 91
Down                          122 5% 273 9


Question 6: Do you believe the remainder of 2012 will be strong, neutral or weak for equities performance?

  August 2012 February 2012
Strong   473 20% 1047 36
√  Neutral  1,514 64% 1,621 56
Weak                             383 16% 252 9


Question 7: Do you believe the Department of Labor should revise the definition of “fiduciary” for financial advisors, effectively banning the earning of commissions on IRA advice?

  August 2012 February 2012
Yes 253 11% 297 28
√  No 2,106 89% 2,078 72

Question 8: Will the U.S. economy recover in 2012, stay flat or worsen?

  August 2012 February 2012
Recover                        377 16% 1126 38
√  Stay Flat  1,634 69% 1,618 55
Worsen                          361 15% 181 6

Question 9: Does your future business model include a greater movement to fees versus commissions?

√  Yes 1724 73%
No 638 27%

The survey was conducted in-house by FSI.All 35,000 FSI financial advisor members were emailed a link to the survey through a secure database and completed the questionnaire online. 2,376 financial advisors completed the poll which was conducted August 8-10.


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