When Wealthy People Define "Wealthy"


 Dictionary.com defines “wealthy” as being “rich in character, quality or amount; ample and abundant.”

Is having a net worth above $25 million another definition of wealthy? Apparently not to everyone in that category.

A revealing study from Spectrem indicates that individuals with a net worth above $25 million are not entirely convinced they are wealthy. The report includes indications that $25 million does not bring the sense of security one might expect.

“Investors know when they have enough money, but the word ‘wealthy’’ might carry a negative connotation for some investors,’’ said Spectrem president George H. Walper Jr. “No matter whether they want to be tagged as wealthy, it’s human nature for extremely affluent investors to still have concerns about the level of their wealth and their financial status. The study illustrates what those concerns are.”

 Let’s start at the beginning. In the study The Wealthiest Americans, the beginning is where the investors, all with a net worth of at least $25 million, were asked to place themselves on a 0-to-100 scale based on their answer to the question “are you wealthy?’

By almost any definition, an investor with a net worth of $25 million would be considered wealthy, unless you happen to be one of those investors. On average, they placed themselves at 82.91, which is an affirmative response but not in complete agreement with the question.

It is reflective that those same investors placed their parents’ wealth status at 59.27 and their spouse’s parents’ wealth at 56.77.

While the question and the responses do point to the connotation that the word “wealthy’’ has, it also points out that some investors surveyed for the study are not satisfied with their financial status. There are other indicators in the study that suggest affluent investors are not convinced they are wealthy enough.

More than 40 percent of the $25 million plus investors agreed with the sentence “I constantly worry about my financial situation.’’ This is especially true among those investors 50 years of age and younger (66 percent). Similarly, among their list of personal concerns, 62 percent listed “maintaining my current financial position”. Advisors would be well-advised to know if their clients feel this way; that attitude could affect investment decisions.

Obviously, most investors with a net worth of $25 million or more do not have life or death worries about their financial situation. The investor population studied has a high level of financial advisor satisfaction, and view their wealth and financial status positively. Fifty-five percent of the $25 million plus investors agreed with the statement “I attribute my happiness in large part to the wealth I have accumulated”, although only 40 percent of investors over the age of 50 felt that way.   

Top Takeaways for Advisors

It’s one thing to ask investors if they are satisfied with your performance as an advisor. It is another thing to ask them if they are satisfied with their financial status. There is a significant difference in dealing with an investor who is satisfied with their financial position and in dealing with an investor who is not satisfied. For those who are not satisfied, advisors need to determine what, if anything, will satisfy them.


The study also asked investors to agree or disagree with the statements “I have friends and family that ask me for money” (53 percent) and “My wealth has brought me unwelcome attention” (49 percent). Are there methods an advisor can employ to alleviate either of those situations?



©2017 Spectrem Group