Ultrahigh-net-worth individuals, most of whom have over two-thirds of their wealth concentrated in privately held businesses, appear to be increasingly in the market for more financial advice.

Amid the economic recovery, the majority of individuals with at least $30 million in net assets are still over-concentrated in their own companies, according to the newly released Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report.

The business cycle and investment markets have allowed wealthy business owners to boost the value of assets diminished by the financial crisis. That leaves UHNW clients focusing more on holistic advice, according to John Mathews, head of private wealth management at UBS.

"As their wealth has been recreated, ultrahigh-net-worth clients are looking for more strategic options for their investments, their businesses and their families," Mathews says.


The UBS/Wealth-X report revealed several fascinating nuggets of information about where the superwealthy live, and how they made their money. Among them:

  • Nearly 10% of UHNW  individuals in the U.S. made their fortunes in the technology sector.
  • New York City has the largest population of UHNW individuals (8,655).
  • North Dakota has the fastest-growing UHNW population in the U.S.
  • There are more UHNW individuals in Texas than in all of Canada.
  • The United States has more billionaires (571) than any other country.
  • California and New York added more UHNW individuals (865 and 585, respectively) than any other states.
  • Harvard University has more UHNW alumni (3,130) than any other U.S. college, and twice as many as the University of Pennsylvania, second on the list.


Here's what Matthews says these clients are particularly interested in:

Philanthropy: Social impact investing, family foundations and donor advised funds are becoming increasing popular, according to Mathews. "Philanthropy is one way these families are diversifying their wealth," he notes. "They are asking themselves: 'How do we give money away, but make sure we do it the right way?'"

Next-generation wealth transfer: Proper planning for transferring wealth is a top-of-mind issue for wealthy clients. "Family foundations and other vehicles for wealth transfer are becoming part of every conversation," Mathews reports.

Globalization: "People who have great wealth are more global in the way they live their life than ever before," Mathews says. "They live in multiple cities and their children live, work and study abroad. And a much larger percentage of their assets are being deployed globally than five years ago."

The study also found that UHNW individuals have around 25% of their investible assets in cash. That's a trend that Mathews doesn't think will change any time soon.

"I think it's the new normal," he says. "People remember what happened during the financial crisis, and their perception of safety is different from what it was 10 years ago."

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