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Recession forces wealthy Americans to reset values


The recession has caused a significant number of America’s wealthy to re-evaluate their lifestyles, according to a survey by PNC Wealth Management.

Four out of ten (42 per cent) say they have felt a negative impact on their family budget, with one-third (34 per cent) experiencing a negative effect on their lifestyle, according to the sixth annual Wealth and Values Survey.

In addition, wealthy Americans have changed their views of what is important as a result of the recession, emphasising living within their means, developing an appreciation for non-material aspects of their lives and re-evaluating priorities.

Nearly nine out of ten (88 per cent) believe it is “more important than ever to live within my means” and two-thirds (66 per cent) believe they have “developed a greater appreciation for the non-material wealth in my life.” Half (50 per cent) say they “feel more centered because the recession has given me an opportunity to re-evaluate my priorities.”

Concern over children becoming more spoiled has risen dramatically in the last two years. This year’s survey revealed that 35 per cent “believe that my children may be too spoiled by money and have too many material possessions,” up from 22 per cent in 2007.

Just over half (51 per cent) believe the recession has changed the way their children will manage their finances and has prompted nearly half (47 per cent) to discuss money management with their children.

“For wealthy individuals, the recession has presented an ideal opportunity for a strategic analysis of their current lifestyle,” says Steve Pappaterra, senior vice president and managing director of wealth planning for PNC Wealth Management. “It is time to strip away the clutter, discern what is most important, and develop tangible action steps to ensure that key goals and dreams are accomplished and important values are passed on.”

The survey of 1,046 wealthy Americans, all of whom have at least USD500,000 in investible assets, also revealed that they have been impacted in other ways by the recession. Four in ten (42 per cent) have cut their spending on non-essential goods, while three in ten (29 per cent) have provided financial assistance for friends or family who need it.

Among the ultra-wealthy (those with USD5m or more in assets), 39 per cent are more likely to have provided financial assistance to friends or family, compared to 26 per cent of those with assets of USD500,000 to USD1m.

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