Dysfunction in Washington is the top concern for wealthy investors, trumping fears about their ability to retire and the economy overall.
That is what UBS AG's Wealth Management Americas found in a poll released on Thursday of over 2,000 of Americans who have at least $250,000 to invest. Similar trends were evident to many of the financial advisers - 19 in all - that Reuters recently interviewed about their clients' current state of mind.
Much of wealthy clients' frustration with Washington is centered on the end of 2012 "fiscal cliff" negotiations, which resulted in a last minute deal that raised taxes for the wealthy while maintaining lower tax rates for most Americans.
Only 15 percent of those polled by UBS, which conducted its survey in the first week of the year, said they were satisfied with the results of the deal, with many respondents frustrated that it didn't include cuts to federal spending. The majority of those polled also said they have low expectations that the U.S. will make progress on debt reduction in 2013.
This client anger, centered on lawmakers' inability to compromise, can cloud decisions and make wealthy investors reluctant to make investment choices. For advisers, navigating a fear that's not controllable starts with keeping clients focused on what they can control.
"If you live within your means or below your means, you can be more prepared for whatever storm Washington sends your way," said Lynn Ballou, managing partner and certified financial planner with Ballou Plum Wealth Advisors, a Lafayette, California-based firm managing $220 million in client assets.