In a recent survey conducted by Select Sector SPDR and released from Towers Group Inc., almost three-quarters of 124 financial advisors polled say they're feeling good about the stock market. In fact, 57 percent claim they are looking forward to additional gains this year even if they're not at last year's levels. On the other side of the coin, some 21 percent say they are uncomfortable about the market despite gains in 2003.

As to their clients, the survey reflects that the majority expects, and will be satisfied with, returns between six and 10 percent. Actually, 55 percent say that’s what their clients expect and 61 percent note they will be satisfied with that.

So, the bottom line is that there is optimism in this regard.

It should be noted that the financial advisors pretty much run the gamut in terms of their reaction to the mutual fund scandal. One-third have an "average" concern while one quarter are not especially concerned, and 42 percent are quite upset. Of those who are not especially concerned, most (55 percent) think the problems are company-specific, not industry-wide, and 42 percent believe that the scandals have been blown out of proportion by the news media.

The clients of the financial advisors? Most feel the same way although 30 percent think their clients are less upset.

According to Daniel Dolan, director of wealth management strategies at Select Sector SPDRs, "Advisors are experiencing client response to a three-year market slump. This is good, since expectations are now close to historic market returns." Still, Dolan believes those advisors and clients are looking for investments that can add value to a portfolio.

In that respect, he points out that the survey shows some 80 percent of advisors claim their clients are interested in non-traditional investments as a supplement to their core equity and bond portfolio. These advisors point to the non-traditional investments such as REITs and REIT Funds, Exchange Traded Funds, Sector Exchange Traded Funds, and Hedge Funds.

With baseball season in high gear, how about tying stock market prognostications to baseball odds? According to the survey, almost three-quarters of advisors believe it's more likely that the major stock market indices may show double digit increases this year than the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. Anybody taking that bet?

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