U.S. politics and a possible economic downturn are the concerns that have increased the most in the past year among ultra-high-net-worth investors, according to a new survey.
At the same time, the national debt remains the top concern for those with $5 million or more in investable assets not counting their primary residence.
The concern over a prolonged economic downturn increased to 77% of ultra-high-net-worth investors from 69% last year, which was one of the biggest jumps, according to Spectrem Group's study, "Investment Attitudes & Behaviors for the Ultra High Net Worth." But it was the third-biggest concern for this group.
The second-highest concern was the current political environment, which increased as a concern from 73% last year to 80% this year. The number one concern both years was the national debt, with 82% this year and 81% last year. The survey was based on responses from 482 people.
The upcoming election came in fourth with 76% of the investors voicing concern. Although tax increases went down as a concern from 73% to 65%, a concern about terrorism saw the biggest increase from just half to 64%.
Among their personal concerns, investors were most fearful for their children's and grandchildren's financial situation at 66%, but maintaining their own current financial position saw the biggest increase from 44% to 61%.
Although a majority expressed a fear of tax increases, only 40% said they plan to change investment strategies because of it. Spectrem speculated that this group had already integrated tax-advantaged strategies into their investments.
The percentage of ultra-high-net-worth individuals who say they depend on their financial advisor too make all investment decisions for them is returning to the post 2008 crisis level and is now down to 16%. In 2009 it was 18% before rising to a high of 23% last year.
The advisor dependency decreases were picked up by the number who ask for advisor assistance but make decisions themselves (28% this year compared to 23% last year) and by those who ask advice only for specific events, such as retirement (29% compared to 27%).
Sixty percent of ultra-high-net-worth investors enjoy investing and almost as many (58%) want to be actively involved in the day-to-day management of their investments. Both numbers are up from last year "and reflect a sizeable segment of the UHNW that are very involved in their investment decisions," Spectrem said.
Social responsibility of investments is a concern to the youngest set of wealthy investors, with 57% saying it is important, compared to only 24% of those who are over 65. Spectrem predicts social responsibility will become more important to older investors as they look to leave a legacy for future generations.
The coming election also could bring about investment changes as slightly more than 40% feel their finances may improve after the election, which could trigger slightly more aggressive investment strategies, the report predicted.