More advisers disapprove of Trump job performance at six-month mark

More than half of respondents to InvestmentNews poll say their confidence has dropped since start of term. Supporters give him partial credit for market uptick.

Jul 27, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Financial advisers are increasingly dismayed by President Donald J. Trump's performance in office, as he begins the second half of his first year.

An InvestmentNews poll of 991 readers shows that 59% either "disapprove" or "strongly disapprove" of the way that Mr. Trump has handled his job so far, compared with 36% who approve.

Confidence in Mr. Trump also is on a downward trajectory, with 55% indicating that they are "less confident" or "significantly less confident" since the start of his term, while 21% say they are "more confident" or "significantly more confident."

The numbers of those who disapprove of Mr. Trump's job performance have increased since InvestmentNewstook a similar poll in April after Mr. Trump's first 100 days.

InvestmentNews surveys taken during the 2016 presidential campaign consistently showed that most financial advisers backed Mr. Trump over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. That sentiment has already turned. In the latest poll, 61% said that they would not vote for Mr. Trump again, while 39% said they would.

Jay Penney, chief investment strategist at Ashton Thomas Private Wealth in Scottsdale, Ariz., voted for Mr. Trump, although he was not his first choice among more than a dozen Republican primary candidates. So far, he's disappointed in what he's seen from Mr. Trump and Democrats in Congress.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Trump has handled the job so far?
Note: Dates correspond with InvestmentNews polls.

"He can't get out of his own way with Tweets, and Democrats have decided that their mission in life is to take the opposite position and obstruct anything he wants to accomplish," Mr. Penney said.

He attributes Mr. Trump's lack of success in getting major legislation through Congress to his background as a real estate developer, which didn't prepare him for politics.

"He's a businessman who's used to bullying people or mandating things to be done," Mr. Penney said. "In Washington, you have to lead. You have to develop consensus. He's not very good at that yet."

The fact that the stock market is setting records leads to a bifurcation in the way that Bill Simonet, managing principal of Simonet Financial Group in Kyle, Tx., views Mr. Trump.

"For the market, I think he's doing exceptionally well," Mr. Simonet said. "But overall, he's doing terribly."

Mr. Simonet explains that Mr. Trump's deregulation efforts have boosted the economy. Where he falls short is the bombastic and abrasive way he governs, Mr. Simonet said.

"He sets a bad example for what a statesman and leader should be," he said. "I wouldn't want my children to emulate him. I would never talk to my clients or employees that way or else I'd be facing a lawsuit."

But other advisers give Mr. Trump higher marks.

"I approve, overall, of his agenda," said Ronnie Gillikin, regional marketing director at Capital Choice in High Point, N.C. "I especially like that there's been an emphasis on the reduction of regulation. I'm a fan of smaller government."

James Diamond, owner of Diamond Financial Services in Warwick, R.I., did not have high hopes for Mr. Trump when he took office but has been pleasantly surprised by his judicial appointments and his attacks on regulation.

"It's better than I expected," Mr. Diamond said.

The fault doesn't lie compeltely with Mr. Trump that he has not signed major legislation, according to Mr. Diamond.

"It's hard for a non-politician to deal with Congress," he said. "It's like a divorce — everybody deserves some of the blame."

How has your confidence in President Trump changed since the start of his term?
How confident are you that President Trump and Congress will pass tax reform legislation?
Source for all charts: InvestmentNews Reseach

Another adviser who is giving Mr. Trump a break is Patrick Dougherty, president of Dougherty Wealth Management in Dallas. He said that it was unrealistic to believe that Mr. Trump would be signing in his first six months a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or one to overhaul the tax system.

"You don't do things that complex in six months," Mr. Dougherty said. "It will take 12 to 18 months to get through."

An economy that continues to chug along continues to be a ballast for the volatile Mr. Trump, who consistently ignites controversy.

"Even people who are anti-Trump are much more optimistic" about the economy, Mr. Diamond said. "I've never seen anything like it."

But eventually, Mr. Trump will have to rein in his personality, according to Mr. Simonet.

"He's not going to have a choice," he said. "Otherwise, he will be looking at a one-term situation."

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