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Even as millionaire households climb to 8.6 million in 2011, 83% of wealthy investors say achieving american dream is getting hard

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Opalesque Industry Update: The number of U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more, not including primary residence (NIPR), continues to rebound along with the stock markets, rising by 200,000 to 8.6 million in 2011, according to the Affluent Market Insights 2012 report by Spectrem Group. It marks the third consecutive year of growth following the 27% decline in millionaire households to 6.7 million in 2008, but the total millionaire population remains below the pre-recession high in 2007 of 9.2 million.

The ranks of all affluent investors increased in 2011:

  • Those with $100,000 or more in net worth NIPR reached 36.7 million from 36.2 million in 2010
  • Those with $500,000 or more in net worth NIPR climbed to 13.8 million from 13.5 million in 2010
  • Those with $5 million or more in net worth NIPR rose to 1.078 million from 1.061 million in 2010*
  • Those with $25 million or more in net worth NIPR grew to 107,000 from 105,000 in 2010*
*Numbers included in, not in addition to, millionaire households

Despite their increasing portfolios, wealthy investors remain worried about the future. More than 4 out of 5, or 83% of 1,252 affluent investors with net worth of $100,000 or more NIPR indicate attaining the American dream will be harder for future generations. While wealthy investors under 40 identify owning a home as achieving the American Dream, older investors say it means having sufficient retirement assets. All investors, however, agree the American Dream can be defined as "an equal opportunity for all people."

"Even if they are not directly impacted, continuing high unemployment and the depressed housing market are bedeviling wealthy investors," says George H. Walper, Jr., president of Spectrem Group. "Investor optimism has climbed from negative in April 2011 to neutral in February 2012, according to our monthly Spectrem Affluent Investor Confidence Index, but investor outlook won't significantly improve until unemployment falls significantly lower."

Like unemployment, housing is a bellwether for investor optimism. "Even though the wealthy have substantial assets in addition to their primary residence, their homes remain an important investment and a touchstone of achieving the American Dream," Walper says.

Spectrem research shows that primary residence makes up:

  • 29% of total assets for Mass Affluent ($100,000 - $999,999 Net Worth NIPR)
  • 16% of total assets for Millionaire ($1MM-$5M Net Worth NIPR)
  • 9% of total assets for Ultra High Net Worth: (5MM+ Net Worth NIPR)


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