Confidence among affluent and millionaire investors continued to decline last month, according to a pair of surveys.
Spectrem Group's Affluent Investor Index fell four points in June, to minus-17, ending the first half of 2008 at its second-lowest level ever, and the Spectrem Millionaire Investor Index declined three points, to minus-12, returning to mildly bearish territory after climbing five points to a "neutral" rating the month before.
In April the millionaire index had hit a record low — below the Spectrem affluent index for the first time since Spectrem began doing the surveys in February 2004.
June's decline in the affluent index, which measures the investment outlook of households with $500,000 or more of investable assets, leaves it three points above its record low of minus-20, which was recorded in March.
The index remained in mildly bearish territory for a fourth consecutive month.
The millionaire index stands at its third-lowest level since both indexes were introduced. Its record low of minus-14 came in April as investors continued to deal with both the housing and credit crises.
George H. Walper Jr., the president of Spectrem Group, a Chicago consulting firm, said in a press release that the surveys, whose June results were released last week, indicate that wealthy Americans ended the first half of the year "with a mildly bearish stance, as both millionaires and affluent [investors] saw their investment optimism sink a bit further … ."
"Throughout the first half of the year, both groups have hovered around mildly bearish levels, with the affluent generally a bit more pessimistic than millionaires," he said. "Despite a small uptick by millionaires in May, it seems clear that both groups are entering the second half of the year in the grips of the same general malaise that defined 2008's first six months."
During the year's first half the affluent index recorded the five worst readings in its history — minus-20 in March; minus-17 in June; and minus-12 in May, April, and January.
In response to an open-ended question in the survey about the most serious threat to achieving their household financial goals, affluent investors last month cited the economy (20%), the political climate (12%), market conditions (8%), unemployment (5%), housing and real estate (4%), and health-related issues (3%).
Millionaires were slightly less prone to rate the economy as their greatest financial concern (16%) but were more concerned about the political climate (19%).
The affluent index is based on 250, 10-minute telephone interviews each month; the resulting data have a margin of error of plus or minus 6.2 percentage points.
The millionaire index is based on a subset of the overall survey group that can vary each month. It is typically drawn from more than 100 monthly interviews.