(Special) - A million dollars just isn't what it used to be.
There was a time when if you had a million dollars you were considered to be rich. Not necessarily so anymore.
A poll by Swiss financial services firm UBS shows that you need at least $5 million to feel wealthy.
UBS asked 4,450 high-net-worth investors if they considered themselves wealthy. Among those with between $1 million and $5 million in investments, 28 per cent claimed they were wealthy. Among those with $5 million or more in investments, however, the number jumped to 60 per cent.
The definition of what constitutes being wealthy is fuzzy and very personal. But according to the survey the majority of investors defined wealth as having no financial constraints on what they do.
The reasons the investors gave for picking the figure of $5 million as being the benchmark for being wealthy sound pretty familiar.
Like most of us non-wealthy people, the wealthy are worried about providing for themselves and their families. The majority maintain at least 20 per cent of their assets in cash so they can quickly get hold of money if they need it. Eighty per cent help provide for their adult children or parents and 20 per cent have a grown child or parent living with them.
And given the fact that medical bills are the major cause of U.S. bankruptcies, it's not surprising that 55 per cent of young high-worth investors are worried about paying for their health care.
Canadians generally are getting a little richer, according to a report by Environics Analytics. Canadian household net worth at the beginning of the year was over $400,000 for the first time. The average household's net worth grew by 5.8 per cent at the end of last year from $378,093 at the end of 2011.
And Canada, it seems, is a good country to live in if you want to make good money.
Two thirds of high net-worth Canadians - those with investible assets of $1 million or more - made their money on their own, according to a recent study by BMO Harris Private Banking.
Forty-eight per cent of those high net-worth individuals either were immigrants while 24 per cent described themselves as first generation Canadians with at least one parent born outside of Canada. Within this group of new Canadians 68 per cent reported that their wealth was self-made.
"For generations many have considered Canada to be a place that provides opportunities for those who are willing to move here and contribute to the growth of the country," says Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, senior vice president and heads of BMO Harris Private Banking. "Today's high net-worth Canadians, whether they were born here or have adopted Canada as their own, prove that hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit can result in prosperity and success."
Women now make up one third of Canada's affluent population, up 21 per cent from 2010. Forty per cent of women generated their own wealth and one third of women now manage their own investments verses 59 per cent of men.
"Today's women are controlling more and more of the wealth in Canada and that number is increasing by eight percentage points annually," Dousmanis-Curtis says. "It's clear that the face of wealth in Canada is changing and there is no longer one stereotypical type of high net-worth client."
The study found that new Americans account for only one third of the wealthy in the U.S. The wealthy in the U.S. tend to be younger than in Canada with 24 per cent of high net-worth Americans being under the age of 40.
While have a million bucks today may not make you wealthy, it's certainly a heck of a lot better than not having it.
Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.
Copyright 2013 Talbot Boggs
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