New FSI Poll: Financial Advisors Weigh in on Fiscal Cliff, Taxes & More

November 28, 2012

The Financial Services Institute (FSI) today released the results of the latest poll of nearly 2,500 independent financial advisors that focuses on the “fiscal cliff,” the economy, taxes and other issues impacting their Main Street clients. This poll expanded on the polls FSI conducted in February and August with its financial advisor members.

According to poll results, financial advisors overwhelmingly believe (79%) that a deal will be reached averting the fiscal cliff. A significant majority of respondents (72%) believe that a deal will include not only higher marginal tax rates for “wealthy Americans” but will also include curbs on deductions. Nearly all financial advisors (90%) think a fiscal cliff deal should include both fundamental tax code and entitlement reforms. Over half also responded that the capital gains tax should remain at its current rate of 15%.

Asked whether or not increased regulatory and compliance requirements – enforced without cost benefit analysis – have resulted in better service and protection for investors, only 5% responded they did.

“With the election behind us, all eyes are now on Capitol Hill and the White House as fiscal cliff talks continue,” said FSI President & CEO Dale Brown. “Our independent financial advisor members have a unique vantage point on these issues as they work closely with Main Street American investors on a daily basis. While they recognize the need for compromise and reforms in order to make our country financially sound, they also see how many of these significant changes will impact their clients’ ability to save for retirement, pay for their children’s education or care for aging parents.”

Financial Advisor opposition to the Department of Labor’s fiduciary definition proposal has increased over the past year. This latest poll found that 91% oppose redefining the definition of fiduciary for financial advisors, up from 89% in August and 72% in February of this year. The redefinition would ban the earning of a commission on IRA advice, pricing millions of middle class investors out of the market on affordable advice.

Survey Results

Question 1: Will the president and Congress allow the U.S. to fall off the “fiscal cliff” or will a deal be struck before January 1?

Fall off     21%
Deal will be reached      79%

Question 2
: If a deal is reached, will it include higher marginal tax rates for “wealthy Americans” ($200k individually and $250k as a family) or curbs on deductions, or both?

Higher marginal rates


Curbs on deductions      9%
Both     72%    

Question 3
: Should Americans making over $200k individually and $250k as a family be taxed at a higher rate?

Yes     30%    
No    70%

Question 4
: Will taxing Americans making over $200k individually and $250k as a family at a higher rate dampen investing and saving?



No    32%

Question 5
: Should a deal avoiding the fiscal cliff include fundamental tax code and entitlement reform?

Tax code reform only


Entitlement reform only    5%   
Both   90%

Question 6
: What should the rate on capital gains taxes be in 2013?

Current rate (15%)


20%     32%
25%       2%    
Ordinary income rates      3%
Other      6%

Question 7
: Will the U.S. economy in 2013 recover, stay flat or worsen?



Stay flat    52%
Worsen     23%    

Question 8
: Do you believe 2013 will be a strong, neutral or weak year for equities performance?



Neutral    59%   
Weak     22%    

Question 9
: Do you believe the Department of Labor should redefine the definition of fiduciary for financial advisors effectively banning the earning of commissions on IRA advice?

November 2012

August 2012

February 2012









Question 10
: Does your future business model include a greater movement to fees versus commissions?

November 2012

August 2012







Question 11
: Have increased regulatory and compliance requirements, enforced without cost benefit analysis, resulted in:

Better service/protection for clients


Worse service due to less advisor time available to clients    69%   
No change/effect    26%

The survey was conducted in-house by FSI. All 35,000 FSI financial advisor members were emailed a link to the survey through a secure database and completed the questionnaire online. 2,454 financial advisors completed the poll which was conducted November 19-27.