It has been said that the wealthy are different. Well, not so much. In fact, according the in-depth study done by the authors of this book, the wealthy came not from wealth but from middle class backgrounds. They therefore have all of the middle class ethics and needs, wants and desires.
Yet within the wealthy, there are differences. From first becoming wealthy to having had wealth over a decade or more, money brings different meaning to the groups within the wealthy.
If you're a marketer, you should read this book. I came to it as someone who makes a living understanding different groups and how to sell to them. To that end, I got a good deal of useful information from the book.
You'll learn what they read, what they buy, how they feel about their wealth and money in general. You'll learn far more about them by reading this book than anything you might see on television.
It is full of research. It has lots of facts and figures and very little editorializing, which I like. This is by far the most interesting and best written book on this subject that I've read and I highly recommend it to you.
- Susanna K. Hutcheson
You are likely in for a shock when you read this well written and well researched book on the rich. Donald Trump and Paris Hilton are the image many people hold of the elite. But the research reveals the very wealthy are quite different from these images.
First off, there has been an explosion in the number of the wealthy, not only in the US, but world wide. And having a net worth of one million only puts you in the affluent range; you need at least 5 million to have arrived at real wealth.
Most interesting is the research into what the wealthy are like compared to the beliefs of marketeers. Marketeers believe only about half of the very wealthy are married; the truth is that 83% are. And while fully 48% of the wealthy consider luxury items such as expensive watches and cars as a "waste of money" (p 19), marketeers think only 18% of the very wealthy would agree.
Further shocks: about 36% grew up in either poverty or lower middle class circumstances. Both the wealthy and the children of the wealthy believe strongly in hard work, in school and later. And they like to shop at places like Walmart and Target. The very wealthy named Ralph Lauren and MAC cosmetics as among their favorite brands, brands which are available in most malls.
The area that has seen the biggest growth in the wealthy is in Africa. The area that has seen the least growth is Europe (p 157). In the US,so many people are now well off, if not wealthy, that luxury has pervaded the US. "Once exotic items, such as sushi and refined organic products, are now found on grocery store shelves" (p 94).
Full of eye opening information.
This book about wealthy Americans is very interesting and well written, so I was able to breeze through it in only two days. Illustrating wealth concentration (which is particularly high in the US), the top 1% of Americans (about 1 million households) own 34% of US wealth and are defined in this book as "wealthy"; they typically have at least $5 million in net worth (excluding their primary home) or have at least $500,000 annual discretionary income. The top 5% (about 6 million households) own 60% of US wealth and are defined as "affluent"; they typically have at least $1 million in net worth (excluding their primary home) or have at least $125,000 annual discretionary income.
The main research method of the authors was to interview thousands of wealthy people who were willing to talk with them at length. This raises significant concern about their sample being nonrepresentative, since willingness to talk with interviewers can select for people with particular backgrounds and motives, and moreover the information they provide may not necessarily be accurate or unbiased. In addition, if you'd like to use this book to discover how to become wealthy, there's also the general caution that the traits of wealthy people aren't necessarily causes of their wealth, since some traits may be largely shared with non-wealthy people or may be *effects* rather than causes of wealth. With these major caveats in mind, here are the key findings from the book (accordingly, to be taken with a grain of salt):
(1) More than 90% of the wealthy come from middle-class backgrounds and thus attain their wealth themselves rather than inheriting it. In most cases, their wealth comes from involvement in businesses, after working hard (including long hours) and persistently (including continuing after substantial failures) in pursuing individual passions, rather than aiming for wealth directly. Their wealth often comes fairly suddenly after many years of low compensation, rather than being steadily accumulated, and this abrupt change in circumstances is often disorienting for several years, as well as being disruptive to social relationships.
(2) Their personality traits include optimism, self-confidence, control of emotions, a problem-solving and learning orientation, and aiming for win-win outcomes. Many of them also consider themselves lucky, while recognizing that luck is intertwined with the noted personality traits.
(3) The vast majority are married, describe themselves as middle class at heart, and don't want people to know that they're wealthy. Their average age is 47, although their wealth increases substantially with greater age.
(4) About 90% are college graduates, with about half attending public colleges and half private. About 60% of their kids are in public schools.
(5) About 95% describe themselves as very happy, and it does appear that additional money provides additional happiness up to a point, provided that the additional money is used mainly to obtain freedom and control of one's destiny, rather than buying material things.
(6) About 50% of them consider luxury items to be a waste of money, and about 75% say they're very conservative in how they spend their money, tending not to be impulse buyers. For example, about 80% of them shop at Target and Best Buy and make use of sales and coupons (in addition to shopping at higher-end retailers). Their average primary home value is $2 million, with a median of $1.2 million, and about 25% of them have a smaller second home. Less than 20% own a boat and only 4% own a yacht. The average purchase price of their cars is about $50,000, and they tend to buy premium cars (eg, Mercedes and BMW) or ordinary cars (eg, Toyota and Ford) rather than exotic cars (eg, Porsche and Bentley). In selecting purchases, they mainly look for craftsmanship, quality, and service, along with appreciating technology, while giving relatively little importance to status display. In seeking these attributes, they need to learn to make "subtle distinctions," which can take years, and this is where skilled salespeople come in. And they tend to involve their kids when making significant purchasing decisions.
(7) Especially during their first five or so years after becoming wealthy, they tend to maintain their original middle-class interests, except that they spend a lot less time watching TV than the middle class, and more time attending events, traveling (averaging more than five vacations a year), and exercising. As more years pass, they get used to the idea of being wealthy, and they become more worldly and sophisticated in their tastes.
(8) They often have some difficulty in managing their wealth, in part because they often try to do it themselves rather than relying on professional advisors. About 50% get no professional financial advice, and more than 25% don't have an updated will. However, more than 90% do get help in more mundane services such as housecleaning and gardening.
(9) They now form a small and interconnected global community with similar mindsets worldwide.
(10) About 98% donate money to charities, with the average annual total being about $64,000. About half donate publicly and half anonymously. And many are board members of charities or form their own charities.
on September 29, 2009
This is a very good book on information about the Elite. There is much information on how they become what they are, who they are, and how wealth has changed them. Most feel that wealth has not changed them, and most came from Middle Class, and still hold Middle Class Ethics.
There is a quite a bit of information on the explosion of wealth across the world. As another review mentioned, in Africa and Asia.
It also does shed light that many Americans do not think of the class divergence in today's society. Many are too busy thinking about what new items to buy or hanging out with friends. Though the middle and lower class do wish they had more money, they often don't understand how much the Elite own. The top 10% of America's population owns more then 75% of American Wealth... and to think 90% of other American's share the other 25%.
There is also some good information on the Elite and Politics. Most people spend their life climbing the political latter, while the Elite use their wealth to insert them self into high-politics. One would be surprised that the Elite only obtain elected offices 20% of the time, despite often spending 10-30M million on campaigning. At least people today will somewhat vote on good values and character and not ones wealth.
Very Good Book! Read it in one day!
on July 17, 2015
The New Elite; Inside The Minds of the Truly Wealthy by Jim Taylor, Doug Harrison, and Stephen Kraus highlights some revealing information regarding America’s wealthiest citizens. These are some of the details that this book highlights;
Chapter Three; The Wealth of the Nation (starts on page 21); Four timeperiods of wealth are listed to be Agrarian from 1650-1850 and divided into the landed gentry and agricultural base, the Industrial is listed to be from 1851-1950 (factories, market base, inventions), Corporate (1951-1980 involving assets, distribution, innovation etc), and Entrepreneur (1981-the present involving idea, marketing, focus, innovation, and capital).
Page 93 Chapter 6 The New Luxury Chapter-The making of hermes bags and who buys them are discussed as well as the disclosure that many of the wealthy obviously access certain products of technology just as the middle class does such as PC with broadband internet access (77%), portable mp3 player such as ipod (61%).
Chapter Seven The Journey of Wealth (starts on page 113)- The wealthy are divided up into five lifestyle groups (the neighbors, the wrestlers, the patrons, the mavericks, and the directors.
Page 199 Chapter Twelve (the top five percent)-The chapter covers some of the politicians born into wealth, and who successfully parlayed that into greater affluence.
Page 225- The authors disclose some of the methodologies that they use to analyze the wealthy such as the participants had to have at least a five million dollar liquid net worth independent of their primary residence, collections, or any non-liquid business interests.