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Money not enough, say millionaires: UBS

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 20:00
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Seems millionaires are beset by stress and anxiety like the rest of the general population and part of that fear is they could lose it all, and then have to join the hoi polloi.

Seems millionaires are beset by stress and anxiety like the rest of the general population and part of that fear is they could lose it all, and then have to join the hoi polloi.

No matter how much wealth is accumulated, they fear they could lose it all with one wrong move, according to a UBS report released on Wednesday.

Half of those with US$1-5 million are afraid that one major setback such as job loss or market crash would have a significant impact on their lifestyle, versus 34 per cent of those with US$5 plus million.

For millionaire parents working full-time, the anxiety is even greater - 63 per cent feel that one major setback would have a significant impact on their lifestyle.

The Swiss bank surveyed 2,215 US investors with more than US$1 million in net worth for the report, UBS Investor Watch, a quarterly US publication analysing investor sentiment and behaviour.

It revealed that while millionaires recognise their good fortune, they feel compelled to strive for more and also their desire to protect their families' lifestyle, and an ever-present fear of losing it all.

"As a result, many feel stuck on a treadmill, without a real sense of how much wealth would make them satisfied enough to get off," the report said.

"The majority of millionaires say they have worked hard to earn their wealth and appreciate the lifestyle it affords them and their families.

"But enough never seems to be enough - even the wealthiest continue on the treadmill to achieve a better life," said Paula Polito, UBS Wealth Management Americas, client strategy officer.

Having worked hard for their millions, they feel they need even more to live the luxurious lifestyle.

The survey found that more than three-quarters of millionaires (77 per cent) grew up middle class or below. Working their way up the socioeconomic ranks was a conscious aim, as 61 per cent aspired to become millionaires and 65 per cent felt it was an important milestone to reach the US$1 million mark.

Fifty-eight per cent of millionaires report feeling increased expectations for their standard of living over the last 10 years.

Those with US$1 million want US$2 million; those with US$10 million want US$25 million.

Young millionaires are the most anxious, it seems.

They are constantly checking to see how much their peers have and worry about funding their lifestyles.

Millennials are more insecure and conscious about how their wealth compares to that of peers (68 per cent of millennials vs 53 per cent of baby boomers). Millennials are seen as those born from the early 1980s while baby boomers were born after the second world war.

With so much of their peers' lifestyle and spending information available online and through social media, millennials are most likely to say they feel pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" the report said.

"This sense of competition manifests itself in their career decisions and personal behaviour," it said.

For example, millennials are more likely to feel pressure to work long hours (49 per cent of millennials vs 28 per cent of boomers). Three-quarters of millennials have checked online for their peers' salary, career history, home price or purchases (74 per cent for millennials vs 57 per cent for boomers).

Even though millennials who are already millionaires are typically very successful, only 48 per cent believe they've "made it".

"They are the least content with their wealth and most likely to fear losing it. They also worry more about not having enough wealth to live the life they want."