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Main Street Investor Confidence Hits New High: Survey

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Eighty-five percent of retail investors in a new survey expressed confidence in U.S. capital markets, and in a clear message to the Trump administration and Capitol Hill, said actions in Washington would influence their decisions in the next year.

The survey, a project of the Center for Audit Quality and The Glover Park Group, was conducted in late September among 1,001 adult investors who lived in households with $10,000 or more in investments and were the primary decision makers for handling their household’s savings and investments, or shared this role with another member of the household.

“Main Street investor confidence soared to a new high in our survey this year,” Cindy Fornelli, executive director of CAQ, an autonomous public policy organization affiliated with the American Institute of CPAs, said in a statement.

“Investors place strong trust in America’s market system, while also having high expectations and closely watching policy debates in Washington.”

Fornelli said it behooved the administration and Congress to heed the survey’s list of investor concerns. Following are the top five issues and events and the degree to which survey respondents said they will affect their decisions:

Actions taken by the White House

  • A lot: 45%
  • A little: 40%
  • Not at all: 16%

Actions taken by Congress

  • A lot: 44%
  • A little: 43%
  • Not at all: 14%

Changes to U.S. tax policy

  • A lot: 43%
  • A little: 43%
  • Not at all: 14%

Cyberattacks targeting personal financial information or the capital markets

  • A lot: 43%
  • A little: 41%
  • Not at all: 17%

Rising cost of health care

  • A lot: 42%
  • A little: 38%
  • Not at all: 20%

Additional Findings

The survey asked the 15% of respondents who expressed little or no confidence in U.S. capital markets why that was. Thirty percent of these cited “Lack of leadership/President Trump,” followed by 15% who said “Impression that the economy is not doing well.”

Asked what posed the greatest risk to the U.S. economy, 17% of investors said the growing national debt, 15% cited cyberattacks and 13% said global political risk.

A record high 83% of investors expressed confidence investing in U.S. publicly traded companies.

In addition, confidence in markets outside the U.S. rose sharply to 54%, up from 42% in CAQ’s 2016 survey and the highest level since 2009.

Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said they were confident in audited financial information released by publicly held companies, up three percentage points from 2016.

Investors expressed high degrees of confidence in the ability of external auditors, audit committees and stock exchanges to fulfill their investor protection roles.

— Check out Investors’ Cash Dips, but Not Enough to Trigger ‘Sell’ Signal: Merrill on ThinkAdvisor.