Investments of High Net Worth Individuals - Statistics & Facts

In a world where wealth continues to accumulate in the hands of a few individuals, it is interesting to consider where they keep their money, what they are investing in and who is advising them on their financial investments. One might expect that they have a great deal of foresight when it comes to investing. Millionaires themselves also believe this to be true, as they ranked smart investing as one of the most important factors involved in acquiring their assets.

As of 2016, there were as many as 33 million individuals whose net worth totaled over one million U.S. dollars. The net worth of an individual takes into consideration an individual’s financial assets such as a property, land, stocks, bonds etc. minus their debts and/or liabilities. These 33 million people are considered to be High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI), a classification which typically refers to individuals worth more than one million U.S. dollars. An ultra HNWI refers to individuals whose net worth is typically more than 30 million U.S. dollars.

So where are the majority of the world’s assets and where are the wealthiest individuals? The combined assets of millionaires are relatively evenly distributed between North America, the Asia-Pacific and then Europe - and growing. However, the number of ultra HNWIs was far greater in North America, almost twice that of Europe and four times that of the Asia-Pacific in 2015. Most ultra HNWIs also came from the United States.

So what assets and investments compose the net worth of these individuals? In 2015, in North America HNWI investments were highest in real estate, followed by public equity, private equity and fixed income. Their assets were allocated principally to equity (stocks), followed by fixed income (bonds), cash and cash equivalents (money market instruments) and real estate. Residential real estate composed less than 30 percent of ultra HNWIs wealth across the world. For the novice, considering the aforementioned could be a good place to put one’s assets.

The last question involves who advises the wealthy? Interestingly, most wealthy people controlled close to 50 percent of their assets themselves in 2014, without consulting an advisor and less than 20 percent of assets were handled by an advisor. When investment advisors are involved, they are most often involved with investment planning, selecting stocks, bonds or mutual funds or diversifying ones assets. The most valuable asset/wealth management banking brands as of February 2017 included UBS, Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch.

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