Investors are afraid and their financial advisors say they have a right to be, according to an Eaton Vance survey released Tuesday.
Eighty percent of financial advisors say fear is the primary motivator for their clients, up from 51 percent a year ago. The fear shows an escalating concern over the steep increase in volatility across global markets, says Eaton Vance in its Advisor Top-of-Mind Index for the first quarter of 2016.
In addition, 44 percent of the 1,000 financial advisors polled believe the likelihood of a U.S. recession by year-end is either moderate or high, which illustrates their growing fear over the pace and direction of global growth, says Eaton Vance, a global asset manager with $308 billion in assets.
John Moninger, managing director at Eaton Vance, says the spike in volatility at the end of 2015 and the emotional reaction many investors had to it may be leading to investment actions that work against their long-term goals.
“Market volatility is an output of investor sentiment and history suggests that dislocations caused by volatility can present compelling opportunities for investors who remain calm, evaluate the fundamentals and take a long-term approach to their portfolios,” he says.
“It’s critical for financial advisors to work with clients to understand their life goals and then develop and follow an investment plan together,” he adds.
Forty-seven percent of advisors say they tell clients to stay the course through volatile periods and adhere to established plans.
Tax planning needs more attention, Eaton Vance says. Sixty-one percent of advisors report that their clients do not know the tax rate on their investments. Tax-loss harvesting is one way to help manage the tax burden. Forty-five percent of advisors say they harvest client losses annually, 17 percent do it quarterly and 3 percent do it monthly.
“Ultimately, clients are telling their advisors that they are nervous about the economy, interest rates and what market volatility will do to the assets they have spent a lifetime working to accumulate,” Moninger says. “Financial advisors can clearly define the value they bring by helping their clients stay focused, invested and opportunistic through challenging markets and over time.”