Spectrem Group’s annual study Affluent Market Insights shows how the level of risk changes among investors as times change.
Looking back at the way investors made investments in 2005, prior to the hint of a recession, and the way investments were made in 2013, five years after the recession hit, show the effects the economy has on risk aversion.
Risk is the most significant factor in an investment, according to the study. When asked to select from a variety of concerns that affect investment, a huge majority of investors from all wealth segments said "level of risk associated with investments”, which was by far the most often selected choice.
Among UHNW investors in 2005, 16 percent said they were "most aggressive’ or "aggressive", the two highest levels of risk tolerance. In 2013, 32 percent of investors, exactly double the 2005 amount, listed themselves as "most aggressive” or "aggressive."
The percentages for the two categories at the top of the risk-taking investors were similar among Millionaires. In 2005, 14 percent of Millionaires listed themselves as "aggressive” or "most aggressive". In 2013, that number rose to 27 percent, again almost double the amount from eight years prior.
Among Mass Affluent investors with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million, 88 percent said "level of risk” was a factor in their decisions. Among Millionaire investor with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million, 92 percent said "level of risk" was a concern, and among Ultra High Net Worth investors with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million, 94 percent chose that category as a concern when making investments.
For comparison, "diversity of investments" was the second most popular choice, and it ranged from 80 percent of Mass Affluent investors to 89 percent of UHNW investors. "Reputation of companies where investments are made"" was the third most popular choice, and it ranged from 76 percent among UHNW investors to 81 percent among Mass Affluent investors.
In 2005, Spectrem Group asked investors to rate themselves as "conservative", "moderate", "aggressive" and "most aggressive” in terms of investment strategies. They asked investors again in 2013.
Mass Affluent investors have less money to invest, but they are also the youngest segment researched. But youth does not preclude conservative behavior, and they had the highest percentage of "conservative” investors, although that number decreased from 2005 to 2013. In 2005, 41 percent of Mass Affluent investors claimed to be "conservative” while in 2013 only 31 percent did so. Neither of the other two wealth segments reported more than 28 percent of "conservative” investors in either year.