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Advisors See Clients Benefiting From Tax Reform; Clients Not So Sure

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A big majority of financial advisors expect their clients to benefit from recently enacted tax reform, but investors are not so confident this will happen, according to a study commissioned by Jefferson National, Nationwide’s advisory solutions business.

The sweeping tax overhaul passed in December “is anticipated to have winners and losers across the financial services landscape,” Craig Hawley, head of the advisory solutions business, said in a statement.

“Our research shows that despite advisor optimism, investors are less confident, so RIAs and fee-based advisors are taking action to clear up the complexity and develop proactive strategies for clients at every level, from the ultra-high net worth to the mass affluent.”

The Harris Poll conducted an online survey from Jan. 3 to Feb. 21 among 508 registered investment advisors and 464 broker-dealers, as well as 827 adult investors.

The results showed that 79% of RIAs and fee-based advisors were already adapting their approach to tax-advantaged investing in response to the tax reforms.

Still, taxes continue to be complex, and can be one of the biggest investment expenses a client will pay, when their federal and state taxes are combined.

Advisors this year rated taxes among clients’ top three financial concerns over the next 12 months and among the top three macro factors that will most adversely affect clients’ portfolios over that period.

Investors in the survey said they remained apprehensive, and despite advisor optimism in tax reform’s benefits, only 56% said they would benefit.

Asked to identify their biggest financial concern over the next 12 months, investors rated taxes second, tied with protecting assets. And as for which macro issue would most adversely affect their portfolio over the next 12 months, they rated taxes No. 1, tied with global instability.

However, despite their angst over the effect of taxes and skepticism about the benefits of tax reform, only 28% of investors said tax reform would prompt them to work with an advisor in the next 12 months.

Jefferson National said this represented a unique opportunity for advisors to educate their own clients and prospective clients about the benefits of a holistic approach to financial planning that includes a focus on taxes.

For their part, 60% of RIAs and fee-based advisors said tax reform would give them the opportunity to expand their services and generate more business related to tax planning.

Seventy-seven percent were optimistic they would benefit from tax reform, just as they expect their clients to do.

— Check out Tax Cut Calculator Unveiled by Treasury to Verify Withholding on ThinkAdvisor.


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