An increasingly strong belief that they will live to 100 is driving significant changes in spending, investing and legacy behavior by the world’s wealthy, according to new research from Zurich-based UBS Group AG.
UBS Investor Watch, the bank’s ongoing study of more than 5,000 high-net worth investors (HNWIs) around the world, found that 53% of HNWIs suveyed now believe that they will live to see 100, although this varies by region.
In Asian markets, about half of HNWs think they will reach 100, while in continental Europe the percentage is markedly higher. In the U.S., however, only 30% of HWNIs believe they will live 100 years.
The survey found that 92% of HNWIs point to their wealth as one of the reasons that they expect to be able to reach the century mark. “The very wealthiest investors expect to live the longest — and they are the most willing to sacrifice wealth for better health,” UBS says in a news release.
Rising longevity expectations are already driving significant changes in the spending and investing behaviour of the world’s wealthy, according to the survey.
Nine in 10 HNWI say that they are adjusting spending habits and financial plans, and allocating their wealth to long-term investments, in response to rising life expectancies; investors who expect to live longer are the most likely to make changes.
“Equities, bonds and real estate are seen as strong places to invest long-term, though a large minority still believe cash represents a good investment over multiple decades as well,” UBS says.
Many investors are also starting the estate planning process earlier “with nearly two-thirds planning to give more wealth away while they’re still alive.”
The survey also found that 90% of investors say that investing in their health is more important than growing their wealth.
“Indeed, the average wealthy investor would sacrifice over a third of their wealth today if that could guarantee another 10 years of healthy life. The very wealthiest investors would sacrifice about half their wealth,” UBS says.
“As much as investors look forward to living 100 years, the prospect is creating anxiety for them, too,” says Paula Polito, global client strategy officer and group managing director, UBS Global Wealth Management, in a statement.
“Despite being wealthy, they still worry about difficult choices they may face, such as spending a portion of their children’s inheritance to pay for healthcare, or working longer to sustain their lifestyle over time. Already, we are starting to see longevity change long-practiced financial behaviours.”
The survey covers the views of more than 5,000 investors with at least US$1 million in investible assets (excluding property), across 10 markets. The research was conducted between December 2017 and April 2018.