Apr 8: How do rich folks invest their money?

April 8, 2024

Any of us who play golf watch with awe as better golfers blast their drive 100 yards past ours, and putt for birdies instead of bogeys. What, we wonder, are they doing differently to be having such success?

Save with SPP had those same sorts of thoughts about investing recently. After taking a boat tour of the river/canal network of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we wondered what did folks do with their investments that brought them here – massive, waterfront houses with multi-storey crewed yachts?

Let’s see what the Interweb tells us.

An article from The Globe and Mail suggests that “the wealthy have a greater exposure to real estate and alternate investments in their portfolios – as much as a third.”

The article quotes Nancy Grouni of Objective Financial Partners Inc., in Markham, Ontario, as saying “a typical portfolio breakdown would be 25 per cent real estate – excluding their personal residences – plus 10 per cent alternative investments such as hedge funds, derivatives, foreign currency and private equity. Then a third of the portfolio consists of cash and fixed-income vehicles, and the balance is in equities.”

“I find that people with a higher net worth tend to be more comfortable with those non-traditional, alternative ways of investing,” Grouni tells the Globe. “They have invested in private equity through personally held corporations; that’s how they earned a living.”

Writing for Business Insider, Peter Syme tries to find out the investing preferences of what he calls “ultra high net worth individuals,” or UHNWIs.

His research breaks it down as follows – 26 per cent is invested in equities, 34 per cent is in commercial property (21 per cent of the total commercial investment is direct, meaning owning the property, while the rest comes through real estate investment trusts or REITs), 17 per cent goes into bonds, private equity (again this means direct ownership of something, such as a business) gets nine per cent, “investments of passion” get five per cent and gold, three per cent. Seven per cent is invested in “other” investments, and the final two per cent is invested in cryptocurrency, the article concludes.

What’s an investment of passion? “Art, cars and wine – which may be bought for enjoyment or simply as an investment,” the article notes.

The Medium blog looked at folks in the U.S. who were millionaires, but perhaps not yet UHNWIs, and got a different asset mix.

“On average, the portfolios of the wealthy are heavily weighted toward equities, which make up 53 per cent of assets. The remainder is largely divided amongst bonds (15 per cent), cash (11 per cent) and CDs/money market funds (nine per cent). Real estate, excluding the primary residence, comprises just six per cent of their net worth,” the article notes, citing research from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S.

There’s much more emphasis on owning stocks in this group, the article notes.

“Take it from the best: Warren Buffett’s will dictates that 90 percent of his wealth be invested in stock market index funds when he dies, with the remainder in government bonds,” concludes.

An article from Forbes offers a look at the investment habits of the wealthy, noting that they tend not to “sit” on their money, but keep it mostly invested.

As well, their focus is on “a year-over-year increase in net worth,” so “they don’t waste a considerable amount of time on the details.” They “live below their means,” avoid debt and paying interest, and are very aware of their income and expenses.

We once read a quote from Mark Cuban, well-known U.S. entrepreneur, who said that once you begin investing, try not to dip into that money – let it grow. It is certainly interesting to take a short look at how the richer half invests!

Members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan don’t have to sweat out an investment strategy for their savings. SPP’s asset mix is currently 10 per cent Canadian equities, 16 per cent U.S. equities, 15 per cent non-North American equities, 11 per cent real estate, 18 per cent infrastructure, 13 per cent bonds, six per cent mortgages, and 10 per cent private debt, with the balance (small) in short-term investments. SPP isn’t sitting on its cash – it’s carefully growing its members’ contributions to help fund their future retirements!

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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