Despite the rebound in housing prices and employment, a more dramatic piece of evidence of the post-recession recovery is perhaps the sharp increase in our nation's deposit base.
Household wealth is up considerably since December 2008, rising 66% to $32 trillion. But not surprisingly, the recession left its mark on how consumers invest their savings. Despite the steadily climbing stock market, they have been reluctant to jump with both feet into the investing pool. Deposits are the new safe haven, having increased nearly 50% between June 2007 and December 2014 to over $8 trillion, according to data compiled for a report by IXI Services.
The boost in deposits obviously presents banks with greater retail and investment opportunities, such as in their lending book. But the growth in consumer wealth that has not been deployed yet also presents an opening for financial institutions to expand their wealth advisory businesses. By identifying and seeking out customers with a high percentage of assets in deposits and offering them investment services, banks may be able to help existing clients and find new ones. A closer look at the wealth data shows that just about any bank may have more of these customers than it may think.
Our data show that the number of affluent households — those with investable assets of $1 million or more — has doubled to nearly 6 million since the end of the recession. This group's assets rose from just under $11 trillion to approximately $21.1 trillion between June 2009 and December 2014. In addition, many people in this group are newcomers; nearly 500,000 households reached the $1 million mark in assets between December 2013 and December 2014.
A second group, which we call the "mass affluent," grew by more than 4 million households during this period and made up roughly 28.6 million households as of December 2014. These are households that have between $100,000 and $1 million in investable assets and include a wide age range, from millennials to retirees. The mass-affluent group also gained significant assets between June 2009 and December 2014, their holdings growing about 27% from $7.1 trillion to $9.1 trillion.
Together, the affluent and mass-affluent groups total approximately 35 million households. More important, about 7.5 million households joined these two groups between the end of the recession and December 2014. Combined, affluent and mass-affluent households hold more than $30 trillion in assets, or approximately 95% of the nation's wealth.
Before the recession, the average household had 31.7% of assets in stocks; as of December 2014 that figure was 28.2%. The financial scars from the Great Recession will take some time to heal. But there is an opportunity for financial advisers at retail banks to identify those deposit-heavy investors who have the potential to diversify and move more of their money into the market.
Isio Nelson is general manager of IXI Services, a division of Equifax.