UBS Wealth Management Americas (WMA) today released its quarterly UBS Investor Watch report, "When is enough…enough?" revealing the anxieties that underlie the successes millionaires have achieved. The survey of 2,215 U.S. investors with more than $1 million in net worth revealed that while millionaires recognize their good fortune, they feel compelled to strive for more, spurred on by their own ambition, their desire to protect their families' lifestyle, and an ever-present fear of losing it all. As a result, many feel stuck on a treadmill, without a real sense of how much wealth would make them satisfied enough to get off.
Climbing the Socioeconomic Ladder
Investor Watch found that more than three-quarters of millionaires (77%) grew up middle class or below. Working their way up the socioeconomic ranks was a conscious aim, as 61% aspired to become millionaires and 65% felt it was an important milestone to reach the $1 million mark.
Nearly three-quarters of millionaires (74%) surveyed feel like they have “made it” and the vast majority (85%) attribute their success to hard work. Forty-four percent said hard work was the single most important factor in becoming a millionaire.
Overall satisfaction with life rises considerably and consistently as net worth increases. The survey revealed that 73% of those with $1 - 2 million reported being “highly satisfied” with their life compared to 78% of those with $2 - 5 million and 85% of those with $5+ million. Millionaires recognize that their wealth buys them more than what their family needs: 37% of those with $1 - 5 million responded that their wealth allows them to live a fairly luxurious lifestyle, compared to 62% of those with $5+ million.
However, with increased wealth come increased expectations. Investor Watch found that the wealthier people become, the more likely they are to have increased expectations for their standard of living. Fifty-eight percent of millionaires report feeling increased expectations for their standard of living over the last 10 years. As a result, millionaires keep striving for more.
Higher expectations cause stress for millionaires about their ability to maintain the life they've built. Among working millionaires with children at home, 52% feel like they are stuck on a treadmill, unable to get off without sacrificing their family's lifestyle.
“The majority of millionaires say they have worked hard to earn their wealth and appreciate the lifestyle it affords them and their families. But enough never seems to be enough—even the wealthiest continue on the treadmill to achieve a better life,” said Paula Polito, Client Strategy Officer, UBS Wealth Management Americas.
Investor Watch revealed that no matter how much wealth is accumulated, millionaires still fear they could lose it all with one wrong move. Half (50%) of those with $1 - 5 million are afraid that one major setback (e.g., job loss, market crash) would have a significant impact on their lifestyle, vs. 34% of those with $5+ million. For millionaire parents working full-time, the anxiety is even greater–63% feel that one major setback would have a significant impact on their lifestyle.
Success Comes at a Price
Reaching the millionaire milestone does come at a cost, as 64% of millionaires report that they have had to give up precious family time to achieve their dreams. Most millionaires (68%) admit to having regrets, most commonly around making mistakes in a relationship with their spouse or family and not spending more time with family.
Millionaire parents with children at home struggle to provide the best for their children without spoiling them. They worry that their children will grow up without the right values–two in three (67%) already feel that their children take things for granted and more than half (53%) are at least somewhat worried that their children act entitled. Millionaire parents expressed concern that their children do not understand the value of money (65%), lack motivation (54%), harbor unrealistic expectations (54%) and fear that they will embark on an unstable career path (50%).