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Sounding Off: How Much Do Clients Need to Feel Wealthy?

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A recent report that over 70% of millionaires with between $1 million and $5 million did not consider themselves wealthy elicited some thoughtful conversation about what “wealth” means for their clients.

It’s not just that they want more money, but that new retirement challenges and market volatility have shaken nerves. If high net worth clients are not feeling self-assured about their financial situation, who is? And how much do they need?

The original results, which came from UBS’ quarterly Investment Watch report, proposed that $5 million was the threshold where investors began to feel wealthy. Sixty percent of respondents with $5 million-plus in investable assets considered themselves wealthy.

But according to responses, delineation wasn’t as clear. There was not a magic number, according to most of the advisor responses.

-“Whatever amount that makes one feel comfortable!” Barrington Lewis (@barringtonlewis), a financial blogger and author, tweeted.

-“No specific number. But there are a few people with $1M who actually feel wealthy,” wrote Blair H. duQuesnay (@BlairHduQuesnay), a former UBS advisor who started her own investment advisory practice, Ignite Investments, in New Orleans.

Moreover, there was hardly consensus on what investors felt it meant to be “wealthy” among the survey respondents. Fifty percent said that it meant “no financial constraints on activities.” Another 16% said it meant surpassing a certain asset threshold, but did not point to a specific number. Ten percent said it was “never having to work again” and an equal portion said it was “ensuring a comfortable lifestyle for next family generations.”

Are expectations too high? Are millionaires too humble? For advisors looking to make sure that clients are satisfied and financially confident well into their later years, it’s an important question: How do you make sure clients feel comfortable and confident with what they have?


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