Why it's a good thing that investors and financial advisers are bearish

When's the last time a client berated you for not being bullish enough?

May 19, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

By John Waggoner

What's the biggest thing mutual fund companies are hearing from investment advisers? Fear. And that may be a good omen for the market.

“Whether it's an adviser audience or speaking to investors, I can't remember the last time I got a question that had a positive spin to it. All almost bordering on Armeggedon questions,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist for Charles Schwab.

Brian Langstraat, CEO of Parametric Portfolio Associates, a Seattle investment manager, noted that he had recently gotten a call about missed market opportunities. “It was the first time since the financial crisis that I'd gotten a non-fear-based question,” he said.

(More from ICI: Schwab's Sonders, OppenheimerFunds' Memani: Trump's policies could hurt U.S. economy)

The fear has been measurable to the fund industry executives gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Investment Company Institute's annual general membership meeting. The easiest way to measure it: Outflows from domestic stock funds.

“Not a single dollar of net new money has come into the U.S. equity market, from a fund perspective," Ms. Sonders said. “That remains the most powerful support for a secular bull market.”

The numbers bear her out. Investors have yanked a net $24.1 billion from domestic stock funds and exchange-traded funds since the week ended April 13, according to the ICI. The biggest sellers: Taxable bond funds. And $2.7 trillion sits in money market mutual funds, earning an average 0.10% interest.

And investors are indeed fearful. The Investors Intelligence survey of investment advisers shows the ratio of bulls and bears to be well below the highs of 2015, although above their February lows. Among individual investors, sentiment is markedly bearish, with just 20.4% bullish.

While greed may be good on Wall Street, fear is good for investors. Typically, the best time to buy is when investors are fearful — and the greater the fear, the greater the likelihood that risk is overblown. While sentiment isn't at strongly bearish levels,it certainly isn't at the wild-eyed readings normally seen at the top of a bull market — and that should give investors and their advisers some comfort.

(Updates earlier version of story to correct name as Brian Langstraat, CEO of Parametric Portfolio Associates.)

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Featured video

INTV

Children of AI, and when they are coming to financial advice

Technology reporter Ryan Neal talks about the tremendous progress in artificial intelligence in other industries, and how its applications are slowly making headway in the advice sector.

Latest news & opinion

SEC advice rule hearing updates

Commission says a lot of work ahead, public will have 90 days to comment.

SEC advice proposal unveiling: Here's what to expect

Chairman Jay Clayton will initiate momentous action Wednesday, as the commission meets to debate a rule on broker and adviser standards.

How active are the largest actively managed funds?

Active-share measures for the 15 largest actively traded mutual funds.

Morgan Stanley's success looks long in the tooth to analyst

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Christian Bolu, concerned over stalled adviser growth and what it means for lending and deposit growth, believes the stock will "under perform."

Retirement coverage gap, 401(k) rollovers are big emerging threats for plan advisers

Proliferation of state retirement programs approaching the 'tipping point' where it will lead the federal government to step in.

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print