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What ‘Wealth’ Really Means to 4 Different Generations

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Related: Millionaires Reflect on What Wealth Means to Them

Boston Private, a provider of integrated wealth management, trust and banking services, released a report this week that examines how perceptions of wealth differ by generation and how the pandemic has shifted those perceptions since the inaugural study in 2018.

The research looks at how emotional relationships with wealth are influenced by age, profession and experience.

The 2018 study highlighted the role that wealth plays in enabling respondents to achieve their goals. This year’s findings build on this notion, with respondents focused on wealth beyond material possessions.

“Better understanding these emotional drivers helps advisors to be more responsive to the needs of our clients and support them in realizing the deeply meaningful goals they have for their families, businesses and communities,” Gerald Baker, Boston Private’s head of trust and fiduciary services and co-head of its Center for Wealth Planning Excellence, said in a statement. 

CoreData Research conducted an online survey between March 22 and April 13 among 400 high-net-worth respondents with a minimum of $1 million in investable assets. Forty-seven percent of respondents are business owners, including 46% that are startups.

Pandemic Effect

Eighty-nine percent of millennials in the survey reported that the pandemic affected the way they define wealth, compared with 75% of Generation Xers and just 24% of baby boomers and older respondents. 

Asked about the potential long-term influence of the pandemic on perceptions of wealth, 4 in 5 millennials said it changed how they will use their wealth in the future. 

Around half of respondents said the pandemic has increased their donations and philanthropic commitment, and also improved their saving levels and their relationship with their financial advisor. 

See the gallery for the terms that best capture each generation’s definition of wealth.

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