Nervous millionaires may bail on stocks after election

Wealthy weigh in on election 2016
Wealthy weigh in on election 2016

Nearly half of millionaire investors are considering selling some of their stock holdings, and nearly a third may withdraw from the market entirely depending on the results of the presidential election, according to the findings of a new poll.

The survey, conducted by UBS, found that 47 percent of Americans with at least $1 million in investable assets may reduce their market exposure because of uncertainty over the election. Another 9 percent have already done so, UBS found.

Depending on the results, a quarter of millionaire investors said they will pull out of the market entirely, and 5 percent have already done so.

Millionaire investors also continue to hold large amounts of cash. The survey found these wealthy Americans are keeping around 20 percent of their portfolios in cash, in line with their post-2008 average.

Still, their investment plans depend in large part on whether their preferred candidate wins. And, like the rest of the country, the wealthy are politically polarized. Fully 61 percent said that if their favored candidate wins, the election would have a positive impact on the market. Nearly two-thirds said that if the opposing candidate were to win, it would have a negative impact on the stock market.

Yet millionaires are almost evenly divided politically, suggesting that whoever wins the election, some investors will buy and others will sell. Of the 1,912 investors included in the core sample, 34 percent were Republicans, 31 percent were independent and 27 percent were Democrats.

"There is tremendous uncertainty about the election, but investors expect the winner to affect stock market returns in some way," said Sameer Aurora, head of client strategy at UBS Wealth Management Americas. "They're hoping for the best-case scenario, but some are already preparing their portfolios for the worst."

One thing most millionaire investors agree on is the election's importance to the future of the country. More than three-quarters said the presidential election is a "game-changing" event that will have a major impact on the direction of the country. About three-quarters said they are "nervous about what will happen" after the election regardless of which candidate wins. And 75 percent said this year's contest is "more significant than others in recent history."

Millionaire investors agree the country is headed in the wrong direction, but their solutions vary according to their politics. Two-thirds said the country has lost its competitive edge, and 57 percent said it's more difficult for Americans today to rise up from humble beginnings.

When asked about the best way to improve the economy, Republicans supported a balanced budget, lower taxes and strict enforcement of immigration laws. Yet Democrats supported increasing the minimum wage, investing in clean energy and raising taxes on the wealthy but cutting them for everyone else.