U.S. Trust recently completed its 2016 survey on Wealth and Worth. It investigated the common success traits of wealthy Americans across all generations, by surveying 700 individuals with at least $3 million in investable assets. Their findings are very enlightening:
More than three-quarters of the wealthy investors surveyed came from middle-class or lower backgrounds, and earned their wealth mostly through income from work and investing.
The majority of these families’ financial success comes as a result of their deeply held values and discipline, not from financial privilege or inheritance. As a matter of fact, only 10% attributed their wealth mostly to an inheritance.
“Long-term buy-and-hold” strategies for traditional stocks and bonds were the path taken by around seven of every eight of the high net-worth investors surveyed.
Rather than looking at their portfolios around the clock and over-diversifying into asset classes they don’t fully understand, getting wealthy slowly is about disciplined planning, regular rebalancing, making sure the portfolio is age-appropriate, and other boring, dull tactics.
The results of this survey are not surprising. It's in line with what I have been preaching. We are often told, especially in this election year, that our economic system is a rigged system, stacked against the average Joe. The result of this survey shows that populist assertion couldn't be more wrong.
As I wrote in my book, Invest Like a Zen Master, "what stands between you and your financial security and wealth is you, or more precisely, your own behavior." The road to prosperity is simpler than you think. All it takes are some common sense and discipline: don't spend more than you make, invest for the long term. The American dream is still live and well for anyone who is willing to work for it.