- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Rich but worried? A survey released yesterday reveals the concerns of the wealthiest Americans, who fret more about their children than terrorism, and reveal their take on the best investment.

Psst — it’s real estate.

But who are the rich? They are the top 1 percent, who make more than $300,000 a year or have at least $6 million in assets, according to Manhattan-based U.S. Trust, a “wealth management” company that has gauged the morale of the affluent since 1993.

For the first time since September 11, the negative effect of terrorism on the economy is not their No. 1 worry.

It’s their children: 81 percent said they feared their offspring will have it tougher financially in the future than they did; 77 percent said they worried about terrorism’s influence on America’s finances.

Only 46 percent, however, felt terrorism posed a personal threat to family or friends.

Though they may have money, seven out of 10 affluent folks seriously fret over the rising cost of education, inflation’s toll on investments, lagging gains in the stock market, rising taxes and unpredictable investments.

Half feared Social Security would run out, while 52 percent were concerned they couldn’t maintain their current income level. Four in 10 worried about supporting an adult child or grandchildren.

Only 7 percent felt the stock market had gotten much riskier in the last year, while the majority felt it was relatively stable. The well-heeled also revealed what stocks and other investments they considered “attractive” in the next year.

Real estate and energy or natural resources led the way — 72 percent cited them as a good opportunity.

“The respondents clearly do not think there is a ‘real estate bubble.’” said spokeswoman Leslie Smith. “Nearly three-quarters think real estate values will increase over the next year. Almost 60 percent feel that now is a good time to buy real estate.”

Health care/pharmaceuticals were next on the list of hot investments, cited by 65 percent; that was followed by defense (57 percent), technology (55 percent), consumer products (55 percent) and financial services (51 percent).

Hollywood and gold did not fare so well: At the bottom of the heap were communications and entertainment, cited by 42 percent, as well as precious metals (28 percent), environmental services (24 percent) and transportation (20 percent.)

Rich folks have definite ideas when it comes to retirement. Ninety percent say the viability of Social Security should be addressed now. The most popular way to shore up the system — cited by three-quarters — is to include state and local government employees.

The worst threat to their retirement was not financial: 76 percent cited the loss of spouse as their biggest concern. Inflation, cited by 16 percent, was the least. Ninety-eight percent plan to spend time with family upon retirement, while 95 percent aspire to “live the way I’ve always lived.” The majority expected to retire by 63.

The survey of 151 adults was conducted in March and April.

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