The findings we discovered for the mass affluent are contradicted by the few wealthy respondents who were in our groups. These people had an entirely different view of retirement investing. They were relaxed. Their body language was different. They settled into their chairs and spread out a bit. They watched the proceedings with a detached air.

They clearly were not worried. There was no tension for them. They clearly had enough money to meet their needs. The 401(k) assets were seen almost as play money–extra funds that could be used on discretionary items or given to children. In fact, their 401(k) rollover amounts were small compared to their overall wealth.

Instead of fear, the wealthy exhibited satisfaction: Things were taken care of. Instead of being pioneers, they were using some well-established options for investing. Many of these arrangements were in place years before their retirement. Instead of control, they showed trust. Instead of diversification, they concentrated their assets with one firm and gave that firm investment discretion. While they felt protected and confident, they did share with the mass-affluent group one concern: health.

The wealthy in our groups were all using some form of managed money. They had portfolios that were being invested for them, typically at a bank. This approach filled the mass-affluent group with dread. The mass-affluent respondents shrank back from the idea of putting all their funds with one firm, especially at a bank. Indeed, banks and insurance companies were not felt to have credible investing skills. What’s more, the idea of failing to monitor every investment continuously and closely filled the mass affluent with dread. By contrast, the wealthy were sitting pretty.–Elmer Rich III