When a Million Dollars Just Won't Cut it

U.S. millionaires are reporting a sunnier outlook about the economy, although nearly half of them don’t feel truly rich. Fidelity Investments released its fourth Millionaire Outlook survey this week, which studies the investing attitudes and behaviors of more than 1,000 millionaire households throughout the country.

The survey found that four in 10, or 42% of millionaires do not actually feel wealthy. This is down four points from 2009; however, those who said they did not feel wealthy reported they needed to have at least $7.5 million in investable assets to begin feeling wealthy again.

Those who did report feeling wealthy said they began to feel that way with $1.75 million in investable assets.

Gail Graham, executive vice president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, said the the main factors that affect whether a person actually feels wealthy or not is their age and how close they are to retirement.

“$1.75 million, at 30 or 35 years old is a lot of money. But at 59, you are very different,” Graham said. “It's not about money, it's about psychology. Wealth means that people will not worry, and have disposable assets and income. The notion of wealth has changed.”

The survey uses a scale where +100 represents the best outlook, zero is neutral and -100 is the worst outlook. The survey found that millionaire’s view on the current economic climate is still “very weak” at -54, but it is up greatly from last year’s number, -91.

The millionaires’ future outlook is at its highest rate in the survey’s four-year history, however, at +37. Graham said that they are predicting an increase in business and consumer spending. Nearly ¾ of the millionaires surveyed are self-made, so they are in a position to know what spending will be like because they are decision makers in their own businesses, she said.

“They have a vantage point as owners and executives,” Graham said. “We look to them to see where we are today, and where we are going.”

Four in 10 millionaires also reported that their biggest financial concern was having enough money to support their lifestyle in retirement. Of this group, 69% reported that they have a financial plan, and 81% are being more careful about spending.

Graham said much of the millionaires’ concerns stem from lifestyle in retirement.

“In all likelihood, they have figured out what it will take to live in retirement, and are putting on top of that what the cushion needs to be,” she said. “People get more fearful about the future as they face retirement.”