There are two ways to interpret the recent survey of financial advisors done by Schwab Institutional: They're optimistic about economy, or they're not as optimistic.

The company's semi-annual Independent Advisor Outlook Study, conducted in July, found that 67% of surveyed advisors expect the S&P to rise during the next six months. Sounds bullish, but it's a decrease from the 78% found in January's survey. At the same time, 66% expect the nation to be more politically divided in the next six months, up 13 percentage points from January.

Although advisors are less sanguine than earlier this year regarding the economic and political scenes, they're more confident that they'll be able to meet their clients' goals: 29% believe it will be easy to achieve their clients' objectives during the next six months versus 21% in January.

"Independent advisors tend to take a long-term view, which may explain why their confidence is on the rise during this time of market uncertainty," said Charles Goldman, executive vice president of Schwab Institutional. Goldman also noted that fewer clients of advisors needed reassurance during the past six months-12% versus 15% in January.

Schwab surveyed roughly 1,100 independent registered investment advisors with $235 billion in total assets under management. Among the other findings, 42% of advisors picked energy as the top performing sector for the next six months, followed by information technology second (34%) and healthcare (33%).  

On the product side, ETFs are the investment vehicle of choice with 78% of independent advisors using them today. Of these, 32% plan to allocate more to these vehicles during the next six months. Nineteen percent don't plan to invest in ETFs in the near future.

Alternative investments such as private equity and hedge funds aren't especially popular these days: 32% currently invest in private equity deals; of these advisors, only 7% plan to invest more over the next six months. Sixty-five percent of advisors have no plans to enter the private equity space with investor assets in the near future.

And only 31% of advisors currently invest in hedge funds, with 8% planning to invest more in the next six months. Sixty-six percent of advisors say they don't plan to invest client money in hedge funds.

Elsewhere, 80% believe the housing market will get worse during the next six months, up from 71% in January, according to Schwab Institutional, a leading provider of custodial, operational and trading support for more than 5,000 independent investment advisors.


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