Divided we stand: How financial advisers view President Trump

InvestmentNews poll finds 49.2% approve of his performance, while 46.7% disapprove. How has that changed over the course of his presidency?

Oct 13, 2018 @ 6:00 am

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Like most of the rest of the country, financial advisers are divided in their views of President Donald J. Trump.

In his first two years, Mr. Trump has inspired both fierce loyalty and withering opposition among Americans for the way he's conducted himself in the Oval Office. Over his presidency, he has averaged a 39% approval rating, according to Gallup Inc.

In an InvestmentNews poll conducted from Sept. 17-21, Mr. Trump's performance received approval from 49.2% of the 1,349 readers who participated, and disapproval from 46.7%. InvestmentNews surveyed readers three previous times about Mr. Trump, showing a roller coaster of results. He received a 51%-44% approval rating in February, a 36%-60% rating in July 2017 and a 41%-52% rating in April 2017.

President's approval rating
Mr. Trump's favorability has ebbed and flowed among InvestmentNews readers since his election.
Source: InvestmentNews Research

"I've never seen a president before go out of his way to keep the promises he made when running for office," said Gary Wolfe, wealth management adviser at Northwestern Mutual. "His heart is in the right place. He's not presidential, and that's what I want."

But Brad Greenbaum, vice president of Altigro Pension Services, said Mr. Trump doesn't measure up to past presidents, such as Harry Truman, whose presidential library Mr. Greenbaum recently visited.

"His policies of isolationism and anti-immigration are bringing the country back to 1914," Mr. Greenbaum said.

There's a close difference of opinion among readers in the InvestmentNews poll about whether Mr. Trump is growing into the office. Since the start of his term nearly two years ago, 39.8% said they're more confident in Mr. Trump, while 43.9% said they're less confident. In February, advisers were more confident in Mr. Trump by a 40%-29% margin, while they were less confident by 56%-21% and 43%-29% in July 2017 and April 2017, respectively.

Economic statistics and stock market returns are both thriving under Mr. Trump. But Diahann Lassus, president of Lassus Wherley, said the upward trend began under President Barack H. Obama.

She also worries Mr. Trump's economic policies aren't benefiting low- and middle-income workers. "They haven't seen much in terms of increased dollars in their pocket for increased spending," Ms. Lassus said.

Paul Auslander, director of financial planning at ProVise Management Group, has conflicting feelings about Mr. Trump. He's put off by Mr. Trump's cavalier attitude toward foreign policy and the alacrity with which he imposes tariffs. But he acknowledges that the markets have embraced Mr. Trump's tax cuts and deregulation push.

"I give the devil credit where he's due, but I'm uncomfortable with the way he's doing it," Mr. Auslander said.

On the bottom line question of whether they would vote for Mr. Trump again in 2020, readers were evenly split in the InvestmentNews poll, with 46.6% saying "yes" and 47.7% saying "no." This compares to Mr. Trump's reelection results of 52%-48% yes in February and 61%-39% no in July 2017. That question was only asked of people who voted for Mr. Trump in the April 2017 survey, so it cannot be compared.

Chances in 2020
Advisers were divided on whether or not they'd vote for Mr. Trump in the next election.
Source: InvestmentNews Research

One thing is certain about Mr. Trump: Opinions will be sharply divided on him as long as he's in office. How long that will be is anyone's guess right now, given the seesaw results of support and opposition from the public and adviser community.

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