Investors

U.S. investors say low interest rates (63%) are better than high interest rates (33%) when asked which would be better for their financial situation today, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

The Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index climbed to +79 in the third quarter, its highest point in more than nine years. A more positive outlook for the stock market provided the main impetus for the gains.

U.S. investors split into two camps in the method they prefer for interacting with the financial services firm that handles their investments. Fifty percent rely on digital options, while 47% say the branch or telephone is most important.

Less than half of U.S. investors have heard about robo-advisers. Those who have assign more positive attributes to human than robo-advisers, but robo-advisers fare well on fees, simplification, reliability and risk assessment.

The majority of small-business owners do not feel the presidential candidates are discussing issues of importance to them. Owners are paying close attention to the election, and half feel the outcome of the election will have a major impact on their business.

Slightly more than half of Americans (52%) say they currently have money invested in the stock market. This matches the low first reached in 2013 for Gallup's 19-year trend.

Thirty-five percent of Americans favor real estate as the best long-term investment choice, a four-percentage-point gain from last year that moves it further ahead of stocks (22%), gold (17%), savings accounts (15%) and bonds (7%).

Fewer retired U.S. investors today than in 2015 are optimistic that they can maintain their income or reach short-term investment targets over the next year. They remain optimistic about reaching their five-year investment goals.

U.S. investors are no more inclined now than a year ago to favor digital financial advice over traditional resources. About half still prefer relying on a personal financial adviser; 24% favor digital tools and 18% on-call advice.