Tuesday, March 18, 2008

US$10 million to be considered wealthy?

I finally got around to reviewing the Barclay's Wealth Insights Vol 4: "The True Value of Wealth".

In a number of respects it made rather depressing reading. It was not so much the observation that US$10 million is the modern equivalent of a "millionaire" (not a surprise) but some of the other observations and responses by the individuals surveyed for the report. In particular, the focus on consumption and luxury brand goods was something of a disappointment.

Key comments:

1. the cost of living for the wealthy has been rising at the rate of 6% pa. While it feels like it has been doing that for the rest of us as well, the message I take from this is that lifestyle expansion is a very dangerous road to start down;

2. most respondents valued prestigious label goods for their exclusivity. This was really depressing. Save when buying gifts or where I believe there is a clear reason for choosing a recognised luxury brand (e.g. reliability), I will buy whatever is cheaper;

3. people consider their peers when evaluating their own level of income. Sadly this is true. I suspect that the same could be said of personal wealth levels;

4. time is the ultimate luxury. Very true;

5. a majority of respondents (78%) claimed that wealth made them happier. This is in contrast with academic studies which show only a "slight" increase in well being as income levels rise;

6. the use of personal services has continued to rise. This is no surprise. If you are time poor it can often make good sense to pay someone else to deal with certain matters for you.

While the report was interesting, it gave no insights into how the wealth manage their money.

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