What do Millionaires identify as their best financial planning strategies? The answers may surprise you.
What’s the best financial decision a Millionaire has ever made? The most likely answer is investing in a retirement plan, according to a new Millionaire Corner survey that shows millionaires prefer markedly different financial planning strategies than less affluent investors.
More than 38 percent of Millionaires – investors with a net worth of $1 million or more, not including their primary residence – say regular contributions to a retirement plan has been the most beneficial of financial planning strategies. Frugality also plays a significant role in wealth building for Millionaire investors. More than one-fourth says “having a frugal lifestyle to allow me to save my money” is key among financial planning strategies.
In contrast, less affluent investors – those with a net worth of less than $100,000, not including their primary residence – are far more likely to rank buying a home as the best financial decision they have ever made. About 32 percent of the less affluent rank home ownership as the most successful of their financial planning strategies, compared to roughly 13 percent of Millionaires. About 24 percent say contributing to a retirement plan was the best financial decision, while 21 percent rank frugality as key among financial planning strategies.
Millionaires are nearly four times more likely than less affluent investors to identify good stock picks and investment real estate as winning financial planning strategies. The differing views of best financial planning strategies reflect the asset allocation models typically used by Millionaire and non-Millionaire investors.
“Our research shows that less affluent investors tend to have a larger share of their assets invested in their primary residence, while Millionaires tend to have more widely diversified investments and a relatively high level of retirement savings,” said Catherine McBreen, president of Millionaire Corner. “In surveys Millionaires consistently favor financial planning strategies that consider investment risk and diversification.”
A primary residence accounts for 16 percent of the total net worth of the average U.S. Millionaire, according to a wealth study completed by Millionaire Corner in the fourth quarter of 2011. Of their investable assets, which represent 57 percent of their wealth, Millionaires have invested 28 percent in retirement plans, such as IRAs and 401(k) plans. They also are likely to have a wide range of stocks and bonds, as well as investment real estate and other alternative investments.
The financial planning strategies employed by less affluent investors are more skewed to homeownership, according to our research. A principal resident accounts for 34 percent of the total wealth of Mass Affluent households with $100,000 to $500,000 to invest. Retirement accounts are a less significant component of their financial planning strategies, accounting for 30 percent of investable assets.