U.S. Trust has published a fascinating research report on wealthy Americans, “U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth,” that indicates a large opportunity for advisors who look holistically at the entirety of a client’s financial life, including estate, wealth transfer to next generations and equipping those subsequent generations to handle the responsibilities of wealth, according to a news release on Tuesday.
The report looks at the ways in which wealth was accumulated, the “cost” of accumulating their wealth, what levels of wealth it takes for participants to feel wealthy, and what is missing from their financial plans.
For instance, 86% of the 457 high-net-worth (HNW) or ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) participants work with “an advisor of some kind.” Although 98% have discussed “investment performance with their advisor,” and 93% “satisfied or highly satisfied with the investment performance advice they receive,” 27% “have never discussed intergenerational wealth transfer with their advisor.” Moreover, 37% “have never discussed their legacy goals,” and 44% “have never discussed their philanthropic” goals with their advisor, according to the release. Often, the broader wealth management issues are not being nourished—and there is the opportunity.
The release noted that many participants had “only basic financial and estate plans that may have sufficed at some point in their lives, but do not reflect the current complexity of their financial lives. Nor do their plans adequately account for unexpected factors that could wipe out a large portion of their assets.”
Although the majority of participants have a will, 95%, and 88% have a basic estate plan, 39% understand that they do not have a “comprehensive” estate plan: 20% do not have “a living will,” and 31% “have not named a durable financial power of attorney,” according to the report’s summary.
When it comes to trusts, 78% don’t have a “life insurance trust,” 72% do not have an “irrevocable trust,” 48% don’t have a “revocable trust” and 88% do not have a “charitable trust” in place, the release stated
“There is an expectation about the wealthy that they have an implicit, sacred responsibility to pass down their fortune to the next generation, and this understanding has shaped expectations about the coming wave of intergenerational wealth transfer,” Sallie Krawcheck (left), president of Bank of America Global Wealth and Investment Management, stated in the release. “Our research, however, uncovered a