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Market Volatility Has Financial Advisors Jittery: Eaton Vance Index

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Financial advisors are very concerned about volatile markets, according to Eaton Vance’s fourth quarter Advisor Top-of-Mind Index, released Thursday.

Volatility spiked to a record high rating of 122.3 on the index, significantly up from its third quarter rating of 109.5.

Fifty-five percent of financial advisors said protecting client wealth from volatility had increased in importance over the last year.

Eaton Vance polled 1,001 financial advisors from a diverse group of firms between Sept. 3 and Sept. 25.

Survey respondents were unsure what recent volatility meant for markets in the near term. Thirty-nine percent thought it somewhat likely and 16% most likely that it would lead to an equity bear market.

Thirty-eight percent said a bear market was not at all likely.

Eaton Vance said advisors’ age was a key factor in their expectations. Half of baby-boom-generation advisors thought a bear market was likely, while 61% of their younger counterparts shared that belief.

Edward Perkin, Eaton Vance’s chief equity investment sees the pickup in volatility as the market’s attempt to price uncertainty. “History has shown that the best opportunities tend to present themselves when uncertainty is running high,” Perkin said in a statement.

As to how they were reacting to today’s volatile markets, 51% of advisors said staying on course was the strategy they most often used with their clients.

John Moninger, managing director at Eaton Vance, said he agreed, but cautioned against doing nothing.  

“Adhering to long-term investment strategies in times of market volatility is prudent,” Moninger said in the statement, “but only if investors are prepared and have a strategy in place that factors in periods of increased market volatility.”

Notwithstanding their concerns about volatility, 48% of advisors polled expected major stock indexes to finish the year on a positive note.

Twenty-nine percent said they expected a flat finish, and 17% expected markets to finish in the red.

Gender differences asserted themselves on this issue. Only 37% of female advisors looked for markets to finish 2015 positive, compared with 50% of male advisors.

— Check out ETFs: 4 Things Advisors Should Know Before Buying on ThinkAdvisor.

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