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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Most Millionaires Don't Consider Themselves Wealthy: Ameriprise Survey

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Being a millionaire today doesn’t have the same cachet it used to.

Ameriprise Financial reported Wednesday that only 13% of Americans in a new survey who had $1 million or more in investable assets considered themselves wealthy.

This is not simply poor-mouthing.

“Building wealth is often a complex journey,” Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise, said in a statement. “The reality is even people who have accumulated seven figures juggle many financial goals, wants and needs.”

Keckler said investors, including those with substantial assets, needed to plan carefully to reach the financial milestones they set out for themselves.

(Related: 10 Ways to Appear Wealthy)

Fifth-three percent of the investors surveyed said they had a specific target amount or a rough idea of how much they needed to save and invest, while 43% had a detailed plan. Only 4% of respondents said they did not have any type of financial plan.

The findings were part of the Ameriprise Modern Money study, which explored how investors navigate their financial lives, and how they perceive money.

Artemis Strategy Group conducted an online poll in December among 3,008 U.S. millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers with at least $100,000 in investable assets, some 700 of whom were millionaires.

Generational Similarities and Differences 

Keckler noted that successful savers and investors among survey respondents may be more alike than different in managing their finances — “contrary to popular belief.”

Survey respondents across all age groups said saving for retirement was their top financial priority. However, millennials and Gen Xers said paying down debt was their second biggest priority.

For their part, boomers cited protecting accumulated wealth as their second priority.

“Our research reveals that these investors are taking a long-term view of their finances — and the fact that they all cite saving for retirement as their top priority, regardless of where they fall on the age spectrum, points to this trend,” Keckler said.

The study found that 49% of respondents believed their approach to making long-term investing decisions was different or very different from that of their parents, compared with 42% who said their approach was similar or very similar.

Respondents also differed in how they handled investment decisions: 46% said they did it by themselves, 38% did it with someone else in their lives and 9% said their spouse or partner did it.

And in a finding that was consistent across all age groups, 51% of respondents agreed that aligning investments with personal values was more important today than it was 10 years ago.

Asked about their professional lives, respondents commonly said the amount of money a job pays was their chief consideration in evaluating career options. Flexibility and work-life balance was the second-most valued job attribute, followed by benefits, such as health and dental insurance and vacation time.

According to the survey, today’s investors would rather spend money on experiences than on things. Fifty-eight percent of all age groups agreed that the belief that “experiences are more important than possessions” was more common now than it was a decade ago.

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