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Millionaire Investors Nervous About the Future: Study

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Even before the S&P 500 lost 5% in two days on Oct. 10 and 11, wiping out half the year-to-date gains, millionaire investors were growing uneasy about the outlook for stocks and the economy.

According to Fidelity’s latest Millionaire Outlook Study — its 10th — based on a survey conducted from March 22 to May 8, ultra-high net worth investors haven’t been this uncertain about the direction of the economy and stock market since before the financial crisis.

“Most investors have seen upside in their portfolios for almost 10 years, but they’re beginning to think about how to prepare for a future that may have some more bumps,” said David Canter, head of the RIA advisor segment at Fidelity Clearing and Custody Solutions, in a statement.

The result is a disconnect between millionaire investors’ current view of the market, which is at an all-time high, and their outlook one year from now, which is sitting at its lowest in level in a more than a decade.

The Fidelity survey was conducted online and involved 639 millionaires with a median household income of $200,000, median retirement workplace assets of $750,000 and median investable assets of $1.75 million. Roughly two-thirds were men, almost three-quarters married, 85% had an undergraduate degree or higher and more than 90% were Caucasian.

The current and future outlooks were based on five variables — real estate values, consumer spending, business spending, the economy and stock market — which together comprised an aggregate index, but the last two variables showed the greatest disparity between current and future views.

The current view of the market was five times stronger than the future outlook for those millionaire investors using advisors —  37 (current) vs. 7 (future) and even more disparate for those investors who don’t — 32 vs. -19.

A similar pattern emerged for the outlook on the economy — 45 (current)  vs. 9 (future outlook) for millionaire investors with advisors — and 45 vs. -11 for investors who don’t work with advisors.

“Having an advisor mitigated concerns about the future to a degree,” according to the study, which also showed that during a volatile stock market in April, investors with advisors were far more confident about the market’s future outlook than those without an advisors (13 vs. -5).

The study found that individual stocks and domestic mutual funds were the most popular investment assets among millionaire investors — owned by close to 65% of investors — while ETFs, international mutual funds and individual bonds were owned by roughly half that percentage.

Despite the assistance that advisors provide in investment management, which 55% of millionaire investors value, almost half of those same investors believe they would get the most value if their advisor provided other services, such as helping with financial planning (17% of investors), with a roadmap to achieve peace of mind (15%) and with realizing their life goals and dreams (13%).

“We continue to hear from investors … that managing managing the money is the foundation of their relationship with advisors — but they want more,” said Canter. “Advisors need to think about how they’re helping their clients achieve their life goals and dreams.”

In addition, advisors need to take advantage of opportunities that can directly impact their clients’ finances. According to the study, 60% of advisors failed to reach out to their millionaire clients to discuss the impact of recent tax cuts. Seventeen percent of millionaires reported they broached the issue first with their advisors.

— Check out 5 Tips for Advising the New Sandwich Generation by David Canter on ThinkAdvisor.


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