Wealthy people's worries about investing are a lot more pedestrian than you might think, according to a recent survey.
It turns out that 65% of the affluent people contacted for U.S. Trust Corp. by the firm Financial Market Research said their biggest fear is that inflation would eat away their retirement nest egg.
U.S. Trust is using the survey to highlight that concern and offer present and potential customers a remedy: Double their investment in stocks.
Customers who "are uncomfortable with that equity allocation have three alternatives: save more, retire later, or lower their expectations for retirement living," said U.S. Trust president Jeffrey S. Maurer.
Mr. Maurer said the working affluent - those who do not stand to inherit wealth - are playing it too safe. The survey found that these people invest 42% of their assets in fixed-income securities or cash, versus 48% in stocks.
"If they have any hope of meeting their expectations, they have to change that asset allocation," Mr. Maurer said. He recommended "that their investments be at least 80% in equities."
The 150 people questioned for the survey earn more than $200,000 a year and have a net worth of $3 million or more. This group sets aside 25% of its after-tax earnings for retirement savings and, by some estimates, is expected to grow to 1% of the population.
The New York-based banking company, which still serves an ultra-rich clientele, hopes to tap into this segment of the country's wealthy.
U.S. Trust has done 10 such surveys in the past three years to help raise its profile. To gain more business, it's been positioning itself as more of a financial adviser than a stodgy trust or private bank.
The current survey lends some credence to the company's strategy. It found that affluent people respond better to financial advice from an investment manager than from a traditional private banker.
U.S. Trust has sent summaries of the survey to prospective customers and clients, Mr. Maurer said.
He added that he is pushing the company's investment strategy to customers through blunt discussions because the survey found many wealthy people are anticipating twice as much retirement income as they're likely to get.
"That would be a pretty rude shock if you thought that you could retire on $218,000 and it was $126,000. I think that people need some help," he said.