2016 marked one of the most politically eventful times in Western history. The unanticipated vote by Britain to leave the European Union and the election of a nationalist demagogue to the presidency of the United States both threaten to upend several decades of closer economic and political integration.
A myriad of economic and social factors can explain this sequence of events, including the rapid globalisation forces at play. Part of the trigger has also been the growing level of wealth and economic inequality. There is a sense among many in the West, particularly the working and middle class, that their position in society has diminished significantly and that the gains of accelerated world-wide integration are increasingly going to a small group of wealthy individuals.
In the UK, the share of the top 1% of total income increased from 6% to 13% between 1979 and 2012, and the share of the top 1% of total wealth rose from 23% to 28% between 1980 and 2010. As wealth and income have concentrated, so has the bitterness of many individuals towards the so-called 1%.
With these ill-at-ease feelings being made very public, it is understandable that many individuals in the high net worth (HNW) category are beginning to feel uncomfortable with the current turn of events. This anxiety is not just driven by the increased market volatility; The populist wave engulfing Europe and the United Stated could result in policies that will strip more of their wealth – whether through more taxation, seizure of assets, etc.
At a time like this, it is more fundamental than ever for financial professionals to provide comfort and support their HNW clients in making meaningful investment decisions, to allay their fears and angst over the state of current affairs.
This report aims to present the attitudes and opinions of UK HNWs in a number of areas, including but not limited to: how political upheavals will affect them, their sentiments about passive management, ESG, alternative investments and their general feelings about the financial industry and asset managers.
The data used in this survey draws from a pool of 300 UK HNW investors. For the purposes of this study, a HNW investor is defined as an individual with more than $1m in investable assets (approximately £770,000).