Phillip Q. Shrotman



Wealth Managers Weigh in on Trump’s Performance

The president gets higher marks for his handling of financial-planning matters. The financial crowd appears to be almost equally divided on President Donald Trump’s overall performance to date.

In a recent survey of estate planners and financial advisors, 42 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s overall job performance, while 46 percent disapproved, with a remaining 12 percent choosing to remain neutral. The statistics were similar when respondents rated the president’s legislative agenda; 41 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved.

The results get a little more interesting when it comes to the president’s handling of the economy and his administration’s policies, particularly those correlated with financial planning. Forty-nine percent said they approve in this respect, while 33 percent disapprove. 

Effect on Financial Planning

Tax reform, not surprisingly, was cited as the most influential policy for financial planning so far. Depending on their client base, some respondents felt that the tax cuts and other changes brought on by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are beneficialparticularly for high-net-worth individuals and businesses.

On the other hand, while corporations stand to benefit from the tax cuts, some respondents are worried about the complexity of the rules for pass-through business entities and the reduction in opportunities for those individuals with high itemized deductions.

Many also expressed concerns on the deepening divide among social classes in this country and whether the immediate benefits of some of the policies will ultimately derail the economy in the future, given the sunset provisions and the uncertainty it creates. Aside from uncertainty, the biggest concern seems to be that, while the president has a business acumen and understanding of local financial matters, he may not have an equally good grasp of these matters on a global economic scale.

Even for those respondents who felt the president is doing an overall good job, one common concern was his somewhat erratic and unprofessional tendencies. Many that feel his policies and agenda are positive, nevertheless, agree that his demeanor and communication skills, or lack thereof, may ultimately hurt the country as a whole. 

Effect on Clients

Though the sunset of the estate tax was one of the most publicized aspects of Trumps tax plans, with many more clients reaching out to their estate planners and financial advisors for income tax planning rather than estate planning since the Act was passed (61 percent versus 13 percent), a majority (64 percent) of the surveyed professionals said that business hasn’t increased as a result. Whether that means tax reform didn’t spur new client intake or just that existing clients didn’t see a reason to act is unclear. Only 26 percent of clients decided to alter their estate-planning documents in reaction to the legislation. Forty-one percent also reported that they think that clients are less likely to give to charity in light of tax reform; only 14 percent felt that clients would be more likely while 44 percent thought there will be no change in giving as a result.