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A new survey by U.S. Trust identifies notable shifts in how high-net-worth individuals are structuring and deploying their assets and the importance of having the right plan that accounts for their distinct and diverse needs and expectations.

Ninety percent of respondents said the wealth they had accumulated had given them the freedom to do more, but competing priorities and lack of time were the biggest obstacles standing in their way, followed by lack of self-confidence, know-how and support of a spouse or partner.

Some two-thirds of respondents said they had a financial plan to protect their wealth, but fewer than half had a plan for how to use it. Moreover, many had a plan that did not match the complexity of their financial lives or distinct circumstances and goals.

The survey found that engaging in robust conversations about their goals with an advisor could benefit their progress. Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed had a financial advisor, but only 16% said they had had wide-ranging discussions about wealth planning goals and topics.

Fifty-seven percent of those with an advisor said they had talked about tax planning and 54% investment strategies or performance. However, fewer than half had had conversations with their advisors about aligning their wealth with important goals and values.

The respondents said these were the topics they wanted to talk more about with an advisor:

“Life is a balancing act of personal, professional and family needs and goals that requires comprehensive financial planning,” Katy Knox, president of U.S. Trust, said in a statement.

“Effective wealth management, built on listening to our clients and working with them as their priorities change, is how we help clients make the most of their wealth and build a legacy for future generations.”

Phoenix Marketing International completed a nationwide survey in February of 892 high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth adults, equally divided among those with between $3 million and $5 million, between $5 million and $10 million, and $10 million or more in investable assets, not including the value of their primary residence.

Other Findings

Wealthy millennials in the survey jumped into the stock market over the past year, cutting their large cash allocations from 47% to 21% of total portfolio holdings. Even so, they had the lowest stock allocations of any age group — 25%, compared with 56% for baby boomers and 54% for Gen Xers.

Instead, millennials invested 17% of their assets in alternative strategies in both the public and private markets.

Eight in 10 high-net-worth investors said they expected companies not only to make a profit, but also to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and society. A growing number were basing investment decisions on environmental, social and governance track records.

Women and millennials are driving this trend, according to the survey. Forty-six percent of all women in the poll and 68% of female executives reported owning or interest in ESG investments.

The number of millennials in the survey who owned impact investments increased from 28% two years ago to 37%.

The survey also identified a new breed of financially driven art collectors. Seventy-eight percent of collectors, including 97% of millennials, planned to buy art this year, while 46%, and 85% of millennials, planned to sell art.

Women are now the equal or primary income earners among four in 10 high-net-worth couples, and half brought equal or greater financial assets into their relationship, according to the survey.

Moreover, 38% of women overall, and 48% of millennial women, take the lead on or contribute equally to important investment decisions.

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