Bloomberg News

Making Money a Bigger Priority Than Preserving It, SEI Says

October 27, 2011

(Adds details from survey on speaking to children under ‘Talks With Spouses’ subheadline.)

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Increasing their wealth is a priority for more high-net-worth families than merely maintaining what they already have, according to a survey of individuals with an average household net worth of more than $20 million.

About 74 percent of those surveyed said that growth of wealth was a priority over the next five years, compared with 53 percent who said that wealth retention was a top concern, according to the survey released today by SEI Investments Co., based in Oaks, Pennsylvania.

“When you have capital beyond what you need to live your daily life, you think about how to put that capital to work,” said Jeff Ladouceur, director of SEI Private Wealth Management, which generally works with families with $10 million or more in investable assets on estate planning, philanthropy and other wealth-management issues.

“They have excess wealth,” he said. “They have wealth that’s going to the next generation and to charity, and when they think about that money they start to think about growth.”

Over a longer period of the next 20 years, attitudes reversed, where about 63 percent of respondents said wealth retention was a top priority, compared with 46 percent who named growth, the survey said. That may be because more respondents will be retiring and starting to pass assets on to heirs over that period, Ladouceur said.

Market Losses

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 0.4 percent annualized since 2000 through the end of September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 35 percent of working Americans expect to be retired by age 67, with the top reason for continuing to work being to earn enough money to live, according to a survey released Oct. 19 by Sun Life Financial Inc.

Fewer than half of respondents to the SEI survey said they had discussed their family’s wealth with children before their children were 26, while 36 percent said they had first talked about wealth before the kids turned 21.

“They don’t want the burden of the wealth,” to be placed on their children, Ladouceur said. Parents may not want to put “an expectation on someone to continue that kind of both personal and financial success.”

Leaving an inheritance was important to fewer than half of wealthy Americans, according to a survey released in April by U.S. Trust, a private wealth management unit of Bank of America Corp.

Talks With Spouses

About 51 percent of respondents said their spouses are fully involved in wealth-management decisions, and 5 percent said they haven’t spoken to their spouses at all about family money, according to the SEI survey. About 55 percent of those questioned said their children know the basics of the family’s money and haven’t been told the full details, and 28 percent said they haven’t spoken to children at all about their wealth.

SEI hired London-based Scorpio Partnership to survey more than 100 individuals online in July.

--Editors: Rick Levinson, Josh Friedman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Ody in New York eody@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Levinson at rlevinson2@bloomberg.net.


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