UBS Investor Watch Research Discovers America’s Wealthy Are Making Big Financial Changes to Prepare for Longer Lives

  • U.S. investors included as part of the largest recurring global study of High Net Worth Individuals in the world
  • Study finds that almost half (49%) of High Net Worth Individuals in the U.S. want to live to at least 100 but less than a third (30%) believe they will
  • Over three quarters (77%) of wealthy U.S. investors say health is more important than growing wealth
  • Most (76%) are happy with their health today but over half (57%) worry their health will deteriorate in the next decade
  • U.S. investors are the most concerned about rising healthcare costs, with 69% agreeing that it is their biggest financial concern related to longevity, compared to 52% globally

NEW YORK--()--Across the globe, 53% of wealthy investors believe they will live to 100, though U.S. investors are the least optimistic. Half of U.S. investors (49%) want to live to at least 100, but only 30% expect to. In Asian markets, about half of wealthy investors think they will reach 100, while in continental Europe the percentage is markedly higher.

These are the key findings from UBS Investor Watch, the largest recurring global study of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs)* in the world, which covers the views of just over 5,000 investors globally in the most recent report entitled "The century club."

“As much as investors look forward to living 100 years, the prospect is creating anxiety for them, too,” said Paula Polito, Global Client Strategy Officer and Group Managing Director, UBS Global Wealth Management. “Despite being wealthy, they still worry about difficult choices they may face, such as spending a portion of their children’s inheritance to pay for healthcare, or working longer to sustain their lifestyle over time. Already, we are starting to see longevity change long-practiced financial behaviors.”

Americans see age 100 as unrealistic

There are several reasons why U.S. investors have lower expectations for reaching 100. The overwhelming majority (93%) simply believe they are being realistic. Many (77%) believe the average life expectancy is 80, while others cite family history (66%). More than half (53%) doubt healthcare will be advanced enough to keep them alive for 100 years.

Believe money will help them live longer

A full 91% of U.S. investors believe their wealth enables them to live a healthier life, in line with 92% of investors globally. In fact, the very wealthiest investors expect to live the longest—and they are the most willing to sacrifice wealth for better health. On average, wealthy U.S. investors would sacrifice a quarter (27%) of their wealth to guarantee an extra 10 years of healthy life, compared to 35% for investors globally.

Wealthy investors spend primarily on doctors’ visits, insurance premiums and other “direct” healthcare expenses. Globally, investors spend nearly as much on preventative measures, such as gyms, coaches and supplements—though American investors spend the least on these services. Millennials tend to spend more on preventative services than other generations.

Work is a major factor for good health

The study's findings reveal that over half (52%) of U.S. investors believe working longer is good for their health, though this is distinctly lower than the global average of 77%. While many other countries are actively taking steps to balance their work and personal lives, the U.S. lags behind other nations in this area. Only 39% of U.S. investors say they have stopped working on weekends compared to 62% globally. Only 29% are “unplugging” from work phones or e-mail past working hours, compared to 50% of investors globally.

Strategy and legacy

Despite their wealth, investors around the world worry about affording a long life. Investors in the U.S. are the most anxious, with 69% citing the cost of healthcare as their greatest financial concern related to longevity, compared to 52% of global investors.

Three quarters (75%) of U.S. investors plan on making financial changes due to increased life expectancy, compared to 91% globally. In addition to adjusting spending habits and financial plans, investors are allocating wealth to long-term investments. Equities and real estate are viewed by most Americans as the strongest options, while globally a significant minority of investors sees cash as a good long-term investment as well. Living to an advanced age is even impacting the way wealthy investors plan their legacy, with 46% of U.S. investors planning to give more wealth away while they’re still alive, compared to 62% globally.

Health trumps wealth

Despite all the financial challenges of living longer, good health still takes precedence over abundant wealth for both global and U.S. investors. Over three quarters of Americans (77%) say that health is more important than growing their wealth. Moreover, 71% would rather live one year longer and leave a smaller inheritance than live one year less and leave a larger inheritance.

Though 76% of U.S. investors are happy with their wealth today, over half (57%) worry their health will deteriorate in the next 10 years. Generally, Americans consider mental health far more important than physical health—56% are willing to live as long as they are mentally astute even if their physical health declines. This is markedly higher than the 29% of investors who would choose to live longer if physically but not mentally capable.

The key conclusions from all 10 markets can be found on the main UBS Investor Watch website:

About the research

* The cited research was conducted among more than 5,000 millionaires with at least USD 1 million investable assets (excluding property). The global sample was split across ten markets: Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, the U.S., the UAE and the U.K. The research was conducted between December 2017 and April 2018.

About UBS Wealth Management

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. The operational structure of the Group is comprised of our Corporate Center and five business divisions: Wealth Management, Wealth Management Americas, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and the Investment Bank. UBS’s strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates, in order to generate attractive and sustainable returns for its shareholders. All of its businesses are capital-efficient and benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets.

UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in 54 countries, with about 34% of its employees working in the Americas, 35% in Switzerland, 18% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 13% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs approximately 60,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).


UBS Wealth Management USA
Maya Dillon, 212-713-3130
Mobile: 917-615-7094

Release Summary

UBS Investor Watch Research Discovers America’s Wealthy Are Making Big Financial Changes to Prepare for Longer Lives


UBS Wealth Management USA
Maya Dillon, 212-713-3130
Mobile: 917-615-7094