Putting Wealth Into Action: Competing Priorities and Lack of Time to Comprehensively Plan Are Top Reasons Why Good Intentions Fall Short

June 26, 2018 at 9:00 AM Eastern

Financial success ought to come with some measure of freedom – to take risks, pursue passions, give back and make a bigger impact. Yet life and wealth are complicated, and the 2018 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth® survey finds that the top reason best intentions fall short is competing priorities. While increased wealth provides the opportunity to do more, it also means juggling increased obligations, expectations and demands. The study found that when it comes to putting their wealth into action, those who don’t, won’t or don’t know how to plan their wealth goals trail those who do.

U.S. Trust surveyed nearly 1,000 high net worth (HNW) and ultra high net worth (UHNW) men and women across the country about their approach to building wealth and the extent to which they are using it to achieve important goals. The findings point to notable shifts in how HNW individuals are structuring and deploying their assets and the importance of having the right plan that accounts for their distinct and diverse needs and expectations. The study also reveals that HNW millennials are taking an approach to investing and using financial assets that differs from other generations; women of all ages have growing impact as wealth creators and decision-makers; and the widespread expectation among HNW investors of corporate accountability is driving continued demand for impact investing.

“Life is a balancing act of personal, professional and family needs and goals that requires comprehensive financial planning,” said Katy Knox, president of U.S. Trust. “Effective wealth management, built on listening to our clients and working with them as their priorities change, is how we help clients make the most of their wealth and build a legacy for future generations.”

Highlights include:

  • Ninety percent of people who have accumulated significant wealth say they have gained the freedom to do more with it, but competing priorities are the biggest obstacles standing in their way. Fewer than half have a clear purpose (47 percent) or plan (49 percent) for their wealth.
  • HNW millennials jumped into the stock market over the past year, cutting their large cash allocations from 47 percent to 21 percent of total portfolio holdings. Still, they have the lowest stock allocations of any age group. Instead, they are pursuing alternative strategies in both the public and private markets.
  • Eighty percent of HNW investors say they expect companies to make a profit but also take responsibility for their impact on the environment and society. A growing number are basing investment decisions on environmental, social and governance (ESG) track records.
  • A new breed of financially driven art collectors is actively transacting in the art world - 78 percent of collectors, including 97 percent of millennials, plan to buy, while 46 percent plan to sell art this year.
  • Women are now the equal or primary income earners among four in 10 HNW couples; and 38 percent overall, including 48 percent of millennial women, take the lead on or contribute equally to important investment decisions.

Survey Methodology

The 2018 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth® survey is based on a nationwide survey of nearly high net worth and ultra high net worth adults with at least $3 million in investable assets, not including the value of their primary residence. Respondents were equally divided among those who have between $3 million and $5 million, $5 million and $10 million, and $10 million or more in investable assets. The survey was conducted online by the independent research firm Phoenix Marketing International and completed in February 2018. Asset information was self-reported by the respondent. Verification for respondent qualification occurred at the panel company, using algorithms in place to ensure consistency of information provided, and was confirmed with questions from the survey itself. All data have been tested for statistical significance at the 95 percent confidence level.

U.S. Trust

U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management is a leading private wealth management organization providing vast resources and customized solutions to help meet clients’ wealth structuring, investment management, banking and credit needs. Clients are served by teams of experienced advisors offering a range of financial services, including investment management, financial and succession planning, philanthropic and specialty asset management, family office services, custom credit solutions, financial administration and family trust stewardship.

U.S. Trust is part of the Global Wealth and Investment Management unit of Bank of America, N.A., which is a global leader in wealth management, private banking and retail brokerage. U.S. Trust employs more than 4,000 professionals and maintains 93 offices in 31 states. As part of Bank of America, U.S. Trust can provide access to an extensive retail banking platform and a broad range of banking solutions for individuals and businesses.

Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 47 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,400 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs, and award-winning digital banking with approximately 36 million active users, including 25 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. Trust operates through Bank of America, N.A., and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation. Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC.

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