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US HNWIs lag emerging markets on positive views of adversity


While tolerance of failure is reasonably high in the US, it is considerably greater in faster-growing regions of the world, according to the latest report in the Barclays Wealth Insights series.

According to the report, 71 per cent of US high net worth individuals (HNWIs) agree that viewing failure positively is essential for an economy to grow, significantly fewer than in the Middle East (91 per cent) and Asia (80 per cent).

Overall, approximately three quarters (74 per cent) of global HNWIs agree that viewing failure positively is essential for an economy to grow.

The Barclays report, which explores how different cultures value traits such as persistence and optimism, and how entrepreneurs view setbacks as a stepping stone to future success, found the US also trails the Middle East and Asia on other notable cultural attitudes toward failure. Only 37 per cent of US respondents agree that past failure in entrepreneurial endeavors increases the chance that a new business will succeed, compared with 81 per cent of HNWIs in the Middle East and 67 per cent in Asia. Approximately half (49 per cent) of US HNWIs believe that if you work hard enough, anyone can learn to become a successful entrepreneur, while 83 per cent of respondents in the Middle East report the same belief.

Global HNWIs also report different experiences with the recent global financial crisis: 44 per cent of US respondents say it provided them with opportunities compared with 53 per cent of Asian respondents. Additionally, respondents in the Middle East and Asia are more persistent in the face of failure with 55 per cent and 53 per cent respectively agreeing that if an entrepreneur’s business is failing, the entrepreneur should persist instead of cutting losses, while only 41 per cent of US respondents said the same.

"The US and Europe may have historically dominated entrepreneurship, but the survey findings suggest that the global landscape has shifted. Today, dynamic and fast-growing economies are catching up," says Steve Alper, managing director, head of market development, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, Americas. "A culture that tolerates risk and experimentation is crucial to supporting entrepreneurship. As governments across the globe look to grow their economies, understanding the psychology of failure and embracing the ability to learn from setbacks are important factors in creating a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and increasing the chances of a sustainable economic performance."

The report is called "If at First You Don’t Succeed…Mapping Global Attitudes to Adversity”.

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