Highlights

  • US financial professionals expect the stock market to post merely modest declines for the year, with continued recovery in the second half despite high levels of concern about volatility and recession fears.
  • Market outlook of respondents is more optimistic in the US than rest of the world. Pessimism is highest in Asia, where financial professionals forecast double-digit losses for the year.
  • Even as market roiled, one in three financial professionals believed volatility showed investor anxiety was greater than the market thought; and the downturn exposed risks and limitations of passive funds.
BOSTON, June 15, 2020 – Even with signs of a market recovery, financial professionals expected the stock market to escape pandemic driven volatility relatively unscathed, according to findings of a survey published today by Natixis Investment Managers. Advisors are optimistic the market will continue to right itself in the second half of the year, but they expect more volatility ahead, and ultimately forecast modest losses for the year of 3.6%.

Between March 16 and April 24, 2020, Natixis surveyed 2,700 financial professionals in 16 countries, including a pool of 300 wealth managers, investment advisors, and in the US, and found that, globally, respondents forecast a loss of 7% for the S&P 500 and a loss of 7.3% for the MSCI World Index at year end. Their 2020 return expectations more closely resemble the modest declines seen in 20181 than in 2008, when the S&P plunged 37% and the MSCI posted a loss of 40.33%. In the US market, the outlook is more optimistic, but elsewhere, financial professionals are notably more pessimistic about stock performance in their own markets, with those in Hong Kong, Australia, Italy and Germany all projecting double-digit losses for the year.

Financial Professionals 2020 Stock Market Projections
INDEX GLOBAL FRANCE HONG KONG ITALY AUSTRALIA GERMANY UK US
MSCI World
-7.3%
-8.3%
-9.5%
-5.8%
-13.4%
-12.8%
-6.9%
-6.1%
S&P 500
-7.0%
-7.1%
-10%
-7.2%
-13.3%
-14.1%
-7.1%
-3.6%
CAC 40
 
-5.6%
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hang Seng
 
 
-11.5%
 
 
 
 
 
FTSE MIB
 
 
 
-13.5%
 
 
 
 
FTSE 100
 
 
 
 
 
 
-7.2%
 
ASX 200
 
 
 
 
-12.6%
 
 
 
DAX
 
 
 
 
 
-16.6%
 
 
Source or chart disclosure

Ongoing volatility remains the top risk to portfolio performance and market outlook. Two-thirds (65%) of professionals in the US cite volatility as a top concern, followed closely by recession fears (64%). More than four in ten (43%) say uncertainty surrounding geopolitical events poses a risk to their portfolios, while one in four (25%) anticipate the US presidential election to be a factor. In a dramatic shift in risk concerns from previous years’ surveys, few respondents (22%) expressed concern about low yields.

“Advisors in the US seem to be giving an initial vote of confidence to the swift and dramatic actions taken by Fed and Congress in response to the pandemic, as well as the resiliency of the US economy,” said David Giunta, CEO for the US at Natixis Investment Managers. “The dramatic rise in volatility underscores the important role that active managers and financial advisors play in helping their clients navigate uncertainty, capitalize on opportunities, and remain focused on their long-term investment goals during these unprecedented markets.”

Resetting Expectations: Hard Lessons and Teachable Moments
After a 12-year run in which the S&P 500 delivered average annual returns of nearly 13%,2 and fresh off record highs in January and February, the magnitude of losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic was swift and stunning. Never mind that nearly half of financial professionals (46%) agree that markets were overvalued at the time; nine in ten (92%) believe the prolonged bull market had made investors generally complacent about risk. And as long as the markets are up, 48% of respondents say their clients resist portfolio rebalancing.

The survey found:

  • 76% of financial professionals think individual investors were unprepared for a market downturn
  • 79% suspect investors forgot that the longevity of the bull market was unprecedented, not the norm, historically
  • 85% think individual investors, in general, struggle to understand their own risk tolerance, and 81% say clients don’t actually recognize risk until it’s been realized
“The market downturn – and expected recovery – serves as a lesson in behavioral finance, even if learned the hard way through real losses and missed goals,” said Dave Goodsell, Executive Director of Natixis’ Center for Investor Insight. “Investors got a glimpse of what risk looks like again, and it’s a teachable moment. Financial professionals can show their value by talking with clients in real terms about risk and return expectations, helping them build resilient portfolios and how to keep emotions in check during market swings.”

Eight in ten financial professionals (81%) believe the current environment is one that favors active management. For those who embrace volatility as a potential buying and rebalancing opportunity, it’s another teachable moment for portfolio positioning and active management. Seven in ten advisors agree investors have a false sense of security in passive investments (70%) and don’t understand the risks of investing in them (78%).

Financial professionals are responding to new challenges managing client investments, expectations and behavior. Under regulatory, industry and market pressure, their approach is changing on all fronts: investment strategy, client servicing, practice management and education. In a series of upcoming reports, the Natixis Center for Investor Insight will explore in depth how financial professionals are adapting.

Methodology
Natixis Investment Managers 2020 Global Financial Professionals Survey was conducted by CoreData Research between March 16 and April 24, 2020. Survey included 2,700 financial professionals, including wirehouse advisors, registered investment advisors and independent brokers and dealers, with $134.6 billion in client assets, in 16 countries and territories in Asia, Continental Europe, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the Americas. In the US, CoreData surveyed 300 financial professionals with a total of $28.9 billion in assets and an average of 22 years’ industry experience. For more information, visit im.natixis.com/us/research/2020-financial-professionals-survey-pandemic-market-investor-behavior.

About the Natixis Investment Institute
The Natixis Investment Institute applies Active Thinking® to critical issues shaping the investment landscape. A global effort, the Institute combines expertise in the areas of investor sentiment, macroeconomics, and portfolio construction within Natixis Investment Managers, along with the unique perspectives of our affiliated investment managers and experts outside the greater Natixis organization. Our goal is to fuel a more substantive discussion of issues with a 360° view of markets and insightful analysis of investment trends.

About Natixis Investment Managers
Natixis Investment Managers serves financial professionals with more insightful ways to construct portfolios. Powered by the expertise of more than 20 specialized investment managers globally, we apply Active Thinking® to deliver proactive solutions that help clients pursue better outcomes in all markets. Natixis Investment Managers ranks among the world’s largest asset management firms3 with $908.9 billion assets under management4 (€828.4 billion).

Headquartered in Paris and Boston, Natixis Investment Managers is a subsidiary of Natixis. Listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, Natixis is a subsidiary of BPCE, the second-largest banking group in France. Natixis Investment Managers’ affiliated investment management firms include AEW; Alliance Entreprendre; AlphaSimplex Group; DNCA Investments;5 Dorval Asset Management; Flexstone Partners; Gateway Investment Advisers; H2O Asset Management; Harris Associates; Investors Mutual Limited; Loomis, Sayles & Company; Mirova; MV Credit; Naxicap Partners; Ossiam; Ostrum Asset Management; Seeyond; Seventure Partners; Thematics Asset Management; Vauban Infrastructure Partners; Vaughan Nelson Investment Management; Vega Investment Managers;6 and WCM Investment Management. Additionally, investment solutions are offered through Natixis Investment Managers Solutions, and Natixis Advisors offers other investment services through its AIA and MPA division. Not all offerings available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit Natixis Investment Managers’ website at im.natixis.com | LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/natixis-investment-managers.

Natixis Investment Managers’ distribution and service groups include Natixis Distribution, L.P., a limited purpose broker-dealer and the distributor of various U.S. registered investment companies for which advisory services are provided by affiliated firms of Natixis Investment Managers, Natixis Investment Managers S.A. (Luxembourg), Natixis Investment Managers International (France), and their affiliated distribution and service entities in Europe and Asia.
1 2018 concluded with a -4.38% decline for the S&P and -8.2% decline for the MSCI World.

2 Source: Morningstar

3 Cerulli Quantitative Update: Global Markets 2019 ranked Natixis Investment Managers as the 17th largest asset manager in the world based on assets under management as of December 31, 2018.

4 Assets under management (“AUM”) as of March 31, 2020. AUM, as reported, may include notional assets, assets serviced, gross assets, assets of minority-owned affiliated entities and other types of non-regulatory AUM managed or serviced by firms affiliated with Natixis Investment Managers.

5 A brand of DNCA Finance.

6 A wholly-owned subsidiary of Natixis Wealth Management.

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