Myths About Ultra High Net Worth Individuals
July 18, 2014

The past few years, there has been a lot of talk about income inequality, with the Occupy movement’s participants calling themselves part of the 99 percent. The 1 percent they left out are the people at the very top of the income ladder. Still, there are people even richer than the top 1 percent: those considered to have ultra high net worth.

There are just under 200,000 such people in the world, each having a net worth of at least $30 million. They make up 0.003 percent of the population. A very elite group indeed.

When you watch the financial television networks, it’s easy to believe that to become truly wealthy you have to have certain traits, such as having attended an Ivy League university like Harvard or work in technology or financial services. While there are individuals with ultra high net worth who do have these qualities, they are not universal.

I recently read an article outlining some of the myths about those with ultra high net worth. Some of the other myths include a perception that the wealth was inherited, and rich people are not affected by economic cycles. The latter myth is definitely not true, as 20 percent of the ultra high net worth population lost its status during the financial crisis—and did not recover. Some people also believe the wealthy maintain their riches by hoarding their money. That’s also not true.

In fact, a number of very rich individuals have signed on to give away half of their wealth, including well-known investor Warren Buffett and the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely. Visit the website to see who else has signed up for The Giving Pledge. Furthermore, the average person with ultra high net worth donates $25 million during his or her lifetime, according to the article I read.

Ultra high net worth individuals come from all walks of life and have taken a range of paths to get there. There is no one size fits all for this population.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and should not be interpreted as individualized investment advice. Investment objectives, risk tolerances and the financial situation of individual investors may vary. Please consult your financial and tax advisers before investing.

Susan Templeton

July 2014