Dallas/Fort Worth’s New Definition of Success Is All About Family

December 4, 2017 at 9:00 AM Eastern

The definition of success is changing in Dallas/Fort Worth and across the country. Almost three-quarters of both Dallas/Fort Worth residents and Americans believe being able to provide for family is most essential to defining success.

In comparison, monetary and career-focused advancements are seen as far less essential. In fact, only 13 percent of Dallas/Fort Worth residents say being a millionaire is essential to their definition of success, and 11 percent consider having an impressive resume important.

These findings come from the latest Merrill Edge Report, a biannual survey of 1,000 mass affluent Americans that oversampled 304 Dallas/Fort Worth residents between September 6 and September 24, 2017. The report reveals how Americans and Dallas/Fort Worth residents are redefining success — placing greater importance on their ability to make a positive impact on their families than just on the amount of money they make.

“Providing for family is at the heart of success for Dallas/Fort Worth respondents, and we’re seeing a shift in how people prioritize and set goals accordingly,” said Ryan Deany, regional manager at Merrill Edge. “It’s important to set financial goals early and create a strategy to pursue them, no matter if you’re saving for a house, your child’s education or your family’s dream vacation.”

Avoiding relatives’ mistakes

Although Dallas/Fort Worth residents believe family is essential to their definition of success, they may not believe their extended family or siblings are financially successful. Dallas residents would rather avoid the mistakes of their extended family (44 percent) and siblings (42 percent) than follow in their extended family’s (24 percent) or siblings’ (25 percent) footsteps.

As Dallas/Fort Worth respondents hope to avoid their family’s perceived mistakes, they may be making wiser financial decisions, giving them a more optimistic outlook about money.

Dallas/Fort Worth respondents and Americans in general feel their investment habits are more “successful” (53 percent versus 48 percent nationally) now than they were 10 years ago. They also feel their investment habits are more “forward-looking” (56 percent versus 52 percent nationally), “responsible” (53 percent versus 54 percent nationally) and “vigilant” (52 percent versus 47 percent nationally).

A conservative approach to finances

Dallas/Fort Worth residents are also less inclined to take risks. Many Dallas/Fort Worth respondents see the following as risky:

  • Putting all of their money in the market (55 percent).

  • Quitting their job without another one lined up (55 percent).

  • Taking a job without benefits (46 percent).

  • Not investing in a 401(k) (46 percent).

Perhaps this outlook on risk is driven by fear of a potential recession. Seventy percent of Dallas/Fort Worth respondents predict another recession will occur in their lifetime, and about three in 10 believe it will occur in the next five years.

However, Dallas/Fort Worth residents appear to be taking matters into their own hands by making financial sacrifices, including cutting back on going out (41 percent) and skipping vacation for a year (32 percent).

Merrill Edge Survey Methodology

Convergys (an independent market research company) conducted a nationally representative, panel-sample online survey on behalf of Merrill Edge Sept. 6-24, 2017. The survey consisted of 1,010 mass affluent respondents throughout the U.S. Respondents in the study were defined as aged 18 to 34 (millennials) with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000 or those aged 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000; or aged 35-plus with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000. For this purpose, investable assets consist of the value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of investments excluding primary home and other real estate investments. We conducted an oversampling of 300 mass affluents in the following markets: Southern California, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Atlanta, and Phoenix. An additional group of 205 Generation Z respondents was surveyed. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample, about +/- 5.6 percent for the oversample markets, and +/- 6.8 percent for the Gen Z group, all reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

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