Few American millionaires came by their wealth through inheritance or by marrying a rich spouse.
By their account, smart saving, even more than investment choices, was key to their financial success, according to the PNC Financial Services Group’s new Wealth and Values Survey, released Tuesday.
Fifty-six percent of respondents said saving early and regularly was the personal decision that had most influenced their financial success.
Another 38% attributed their good fortune to controlling spending, and a similar percentage put their success down to making good investment decisions.
“Earning a lot of money” was mentioned by 26% of those surveyed. Only 12% cited an inheritance, and 3% had married someone with significant assets.
Asked to rank the greatest influences, 65% of millionaire respondents said hard work, while 16% cited good decisions, 8% said discipline and 7% luck.
Artemis Strategy Group conducted the online survey in September and October, interviewing 473 individuals with assets of $1 million or more.
Seventy-six percent of millionaires surveyed expected they were growing to be successful financially, but 81% expressed pleasant surprise at the scale of their success.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said they had accumulated at least $1 million within the last decade, with the same number having done so within the past 10 to 20 years. Only 28% had had at least this much money for more than 20 years.
Fifty-three percent of millionaires said that whatever financial acumen they had was largely self-taught, but 77% now worked with a financial professional to help manage their wealth.
For most, the relationship was a collaboration; fewer either delegated most decisions to their advisors or relied solely on their own judgment.
Survey respondents reported that they were more at peace now and enjoying life more, whereas 10 years ago they had been much more likely to be pushing to achieve more.
Most said they had been able to move beyond a concern about saving enough for retirement (a key priority now for just 8%) or paying down debt (a priority for just 2%).
Now they were most concentrated on having enough money to live comfortably in retirement — the top concern for 57% of respondents.
Preservation of capital continued to be the main focus for the millionaires surveyed, cited more than twice as often as accumulation as a major concern.
Read more on ThinkAdvisor: What Do Young Near-Millionaires Need? Advice. What Don’t They Have? Advisors.