The mood among RIAs has been getting worse for most of this year, but in July the sun finally came out, according to the latest "advisor confidence" poll from Advisor Benchmarking.
The best practices research firm surveyed 150 independent RIA reps and discovered that respondents got slightly more optimistic about the economy in July -- the first month since January when sentiment improved.
The improvement wasn't terrific: up 2 points from June, but still down well over 18 points year to date.
But if the trend holds, then confidence among responding firms may have bottomed out without dipping all the way into truly negative territory.
Advisor Benchmarking uses as 200-point scale with 100 as the "neutral" line.
As of July, the gauge was still squarely at 104.33.
Anecdotally, survey respondents listed numerous reasons to be cautious, including inflation, the euro debt crisis, the debt ceiling, and even the prospect of a student loan crash on the horizon.
Advisor confidence has tended to be a lagging indicator for the markets, dipping as low as 94 last August before soaring to 123 in January.
At the moment, the advisors Advisor Benchmarking talked to are getting a little more bearish, even though their overall economic expectations are improving.