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What Concerns the Ultra-Wealthy?

Even the wealthiest households grapple with issues of wealth and health

| BY Donald Liebenson

The nation’s ultra-wealthy had a very good 2011, according to a Census Bureau report released Wednesday. The top 1 percent of wage earners enjoyed a 6 percent increase in income. Income for the top 5 percent of households—defined as those making $186,000 or more—rose 5.3 percent. But while their personal concerns regarding wealth and health have eased since the depths of the recession, they are still heightened among a majority of households with a net worth of at least $25 million (not including primary residence).

In a Millionaire Corner wealth level study of ultra-wealthy households in 2010, more than half (52 percent) said that the recession was having a serious impact on their financial position. More than three-quarters (78 percent) said that the recession, along with the U.S. economy, had been a major concern over the previous two years.

These concerns have lessened, but they are still felt among a majority of the ultra-wealthy. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent)—down from 75 percent in 2010—said they are most concerned about maintaining their current financial position,

Their biggest financial concerns concern their children. These, too, have subsided over the past two years, but a substantial percentage still fret about the wellbeing of their children and grandchildren (78 percent, down from 83 percent in 2010) and the legacy they will leave them (66 percent, down from 70 percent).

In an economy stubbornly slow to recover, financially literacy is also a growing concern among the ultra-wealthy. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) are making it a priority to raise financially responsible children. That’s up three percentage points from two years ago. Two-thirds of ultra-wealthy respondents endeavor not to allow their wealth to be detrimental to their children or grandchildren’s work ethic.

Health issues, too, are of paramount concern, particularly in the eldest of ultra-wealthy households. Seventy-one percent are concerned about the health of their spouse, while 68 percent are concerned about their own health. In comparison, these are of concern to nearly nine-in-ten of 88 seniors over the age of 65. They are also, not surprisingly, most likely to be concerned about having someone to take care of them in their old age (68 percent vs. 52 percent of ultra-wealthy respondents overall).

Of less concern to these households is their reputation among business colleagues and associates (49 percent) and leaving their wealth to worthwhile causes after they pass away (46 percent). They are more inclined to use their wealth to help others while they are still alive (54 percent).

About the Author

Donald Liebenson


Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.