“I don’t think these responses show that a bottom has been reached,” Lowengart said of E-Trade’s latest survey. “We would see it in the asset allocation question and we not seeing it,” he said, pointing to findings in the survey that show the majority of investors with $1 million or more in their accounts are planning no changes over the next six months.
Lowengart said the market rebound since Fed chairman Jerome Powell became more dovish in his comments — that is, less likely to raise rates soon — shows how important that change in the Fed’s outlook has become to many investors. “The markets really calmed down after we saw Powell’s change in posture.”
Another swing factor is U.S.-China trade. It was cited by 71 percent of millionaire investors in the E-Trade survey as the biggest risk to investment portfolios — gridlock in Washington was a distant second at 40 percent. This suggests that if the headlines about the U.S. and China resolving trade their differences are real, investor sentiment could swiftly reverse.
For now, “they want to protect and don’t want to make changes, but no one is heading for the hills,” Lowengart said.
The E-Trade survey was conducted from Jan. 2 to Jan.10 among an online U.S. sample of 910 self-directed active investors who manage at least $10,000 in an online brokerage account. The segment of investors with $1 million or more in an online brokerage account is provided exclusively to CNBC and included 124 respondents in the January survey. The respondents are broken into thirds of active (trade more than once a week), swing (trade less than once a week but more than once a month), and passive (trade less than once a month).