Ah-Ha! Opportunities (May Exist) in Polarization of Financial Attitudes MacroMonitor Marketing Report November 2011

About this Report

Attitude gaps by wealth segments have become more pronounced in the past decade—particularly between 2008 and 2010. Aggravated by economic conditions, some of the trends suggest that the gap is widening. With continuing economic uncertainty, the attitudinal gap between the most fortunate and everyone else is likely to continue to grow. Where the line is between the wealthy and the merely affluent may derive from any number of factors. However or wherever one draws the line, the wealthiest households (for this analysis, those with total assets of $5 million or more) live in a very different world.

A systematic progression moves from one end of the wealth continuum to the other for the majority of financial-attitude agreement. Postrecession, attitude-response patterns for wealth segments with less than $5 million in total assets indicate a greater degree of similarity over time than previously. Although these wealth segments may not have reached their views by following the same path, they do appear to be coalescing. At the same time, the very wealthy hold different views about a wide variety of financial attitudes and also are frequently moving in a different direction from that of the rest of the population.

Regardless of which of the three patterns attitudes fall into—no difference, a decrease as wealth increases, or an increase as wealth rises—the frequency of difference between the wealthy and the rest suggests that the schism will continue and probably increase in the years ahead. Where specific attitude agreement "breaks" between wealthy households and other households and what that break means for specific financial institutions striving to serve these diverging markets require financial providers to be cognizant of how each target population feels about its financial needs. The key to succeeding in this disaffected and divergent marketplace requires that providers apply this understanding by separating, adjusting, and targeting their marketing appropriately.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 1
About This Report 2
Trends in Household Wealth and Assets 3
Definition of the Wealth Segments 4
About the Wealth Segments 5
Patterns of Financial Attitudes 7
Nondiscriminating Financial Attitudes 8
Financial-Attitude Differences that Decrease as Wealth Increases 10
Financial-Attitude Differences that Increase as Wealth Increases 13
Revealing Financial Attitudes 17
Conclusions 19
Tables
Examples of Universal Financial Attitudes 8
Examples of Attitudes to Which Agreement Decreases As Wealth Increases 11
Examples of Attitudes to Which Agreement Increases As Wealth Increases 14
Figures
Trends in Household Wealth and Total Assets 3
Wealth-Segment Sizes That Derive from Households' Total Assets 4
Trend In Number of Households in Wealth Segments 5
Trend In Aggregate Assets by Wealth Segment 6
Three Patterns of Financial Attitudes 7
Trend: I Like to Keep My Financial Affairs Uncomplicated 9
Trend: I Would Never Get a Personal or Auto Loan That Had an Interest Rate That Could Change 9
Trend: I'm Afraid My Household Is Not Saving Enough for Its Future Needs 10
Trend: I Am Concerned about Having Adequate Income during Retirement 12
Trend: I Don't Have As Much Life Insurance Protection As I Should 12
Trend: I Am Currently in a Position to Meet My Long-Term Financial Goals 13
Trend: In the Past Several Years, I Have Become Much More Knowledgeable About Savings and Investments 15
Three Revealing Financial Attitudes 18