In an online May poll of 442 U.S. financial advisers, 70% chose "four more years of an Obama administration" as "their biggest 2012 election fear," over alternate choices "a divided Congress" (18%), a Romney victory (5%), or "growing Tea Party influence" (4%), says Brinker Capital Inc., a King of Prussia firm that invests around $12 billion for clients averaging $2M-$25M under management..
That 70% anti-Obama result nearly matches the 74% of 125 high-end advisers who declared themselves pro-Romney in an SEI Investments Corp. poll released earlier this month. (The SEI poll found most advisers expected Obama to win, even though they personally preferred Romney. Brinker didn't ask for predictions.)
"The anxiety is around taxes. Their concern is that a Democratic administration is going to try to bail out the deficit on the backs of the high-net-worth, mass-affluent market. It's really becoming visceral," Brinker chief executive John Coyne told me. "The fear is that the Bush tax cuts will be allowed to expire." He said the fear-Obama choice rose from 56% at year-end 2011.
He noted the drop in home values -- even though "Obama had nothing to do with that" -- has made "Americans feel poor. And now they're going to raise my taxes?"
The Brinker poll identified "the economy" as the ought-to-be most-decisive factor for 96% of those responding, compared to 4% for health care and less than 1% for immigration, foreign policy, gun control, and terrorism -- combined. (SEI found major worries the election would leave "a divided government" in Washington unable to act decisively against rising deficits, unfunded Medicare and other pressing problems.)
Asked "the most significant event" of 2011, 72% chose "the fiscal and debt situation in Europe," vs. less than 10%, in declining order, for the Japan earthquake-tsunami, Arab Spring, Osama bin Laden killing, US departure from Iraq, world population topping 7 billion, and, least, Occupy Wall Street.
A slight majority said clients are better off than last year; a slight plurality said investment markets were doing better than expected; and a majority agreed rising employment would probably help Obama.
A majority (56%) of the Brinker advisers urged "a tougher stand" against "Korea's missile testing." But no such question was asked re Iran, where US ally Israel is contemplating an attack, or China, potentially much more dangerous than North Korea to U.S. interests.