When it comes to peering into the crystal ball to see the future of the economy, the results are hit and miss.

Take the downturn in gasoline prices that has rocked the markets. When prices at the pump rose to record levels, experts were quick to say they would never sink to old levels. Never, apparently, has arrived.

Such misreading of the future doesn’t stop the effort to read the tea laves. Late last year, the CFA Institute, which oversees chartered financial analysts, surveyed its members about their expectations for financial markets in 2015 and about the prospects for jobs in financial services.

The year is young, but so far the predictions for the markets seem on track, with one major exception: that pesky price of oil. The Institute’s members saw the price of oil ending the year at $91. So far, the price has dropped about 14% since year-end, and although the price is expected to rise some by the end of this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects crude to cost just $58 at the dawn of 2016, a far cry from where it once hovered.

The online survey was conducted in October with 4% of the institute’s global membership responding, or 5,259 members. Questions that also covered reasons for lack of trust by consumers in financial services professionals.

Check out some of the financial pros’ predictions for this year:

Best Countries for Equity Investment

1. Best Countries for Equity Investment

United States: 33.5%

China: 9.3%

India: 8.9%

Russia: 6.2%

Predicted Closing Values of Selected Indices

2. Predicted Closing Values of Selected Indexes

(In parentheses, actual closing value on Dec. 31, 2014)

Euro Stoxx 50: 3,283 (3,169.75)

S&P 500: 2,066 (1,996,67)

Nikkei 225: 16,428 (17,325.68)

U.S. Treasury 30-Year Yield: 3.46% (2.75%)

Crude Oil Brent: $91 ($57.55)

Comex Gold: $1,216 ($1,185)

Biggest Risks to Global Economy

3. Biggest Risks to Global Economy

Weak Developed Markets Economies: 30%

Political Instability: 20%

Countries Most Worried About the Effects of Political Instability:

United States: 25%

Canada: 23%

(Countries with upcoming elections tend to rate instability as a bigger risk; India’s worry about this plunged from 78% to 2% year over year.)

Most Underestimated Risks to the Global Economy (Photo: AP)

4. Most Underestimated Risks to the Global Economy

Political Risks: 35%

Aging Population: 20%

(In the U.S., data security and cyber threats were the most citied underestimated risks at 18%.)

Job Market for Investment Professionals

5. Job Market for Investment Professionals

Countries most optimistic:

  • India: 77%
  • China 60%

Countries least optimistic:

  • Brazil: 57%
  • The Netherlands: 43%
  • Switzerland: 40%

Lack of Trust in Financial Industry

6. Lack of Trust in Financial Industry

(Figures for CFA members in U.S.)

Biggest Causes of Mistrust:

  • Lack of Ethical Culture Within Firms: 59%
  • Poor Government Regulation & Enforcement: 15%
  • Market Micro Structure: 6%
  • There Is No Lack of Trust: 4%
  • Other: 16%

Top 2 Actions Firms Need to Take to Gain Trust:

Better Alignment of Compensation With Investor Objectives: 33%

Zero Tolerance Policy for Ethical Breaches: 25%

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