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Rich, sick and idle – misconceptions of the wealthy

The rich aren’t idle and when they aren’t thinking about work, they’re thinking about health, according to two new surveys.

The rich aren’t idle and when they aren’t thinking about work, they’re thinking about health, according to two new surveys.

Contrary to popular perception the rich aren’t idle, indeed the richer you are the busier you are, found a survey by Ledbury Research, a London-based consultancy.

For its 2013 Client Landscape Report, Ledbury surveyed 500 UK-based high net worth individuals with at least £500,000 (€588,000) in liquid assets – those with more than £3 million were the least likely to find time for leisure interests. In fact, a quarter of respondents didn't pursue any kind of hobby at all.

Unsurprisingly, wealthy business owners were less idle than their salaried counterparts, and tended to have a longer working life.

Stuart Rutherford, research director at Ledbury Research, said: "For the most part, individuals are consciously prioritising work over leisure activities in pursuit of wealth, and this would be particularly true of those whose source of wealth is in areas like business ownership or senior management."

But across the Atlantic, wealthy people appear to be more worried about their health than anything else.

A survey by Spectrem, a US-based research group, found that the wealthy worry more about their own health and the wellbeing of their loved ones than their business interests.

Spectrem said that as a result of feeling more financially secure and the fact that one-third of the US's ultra-high net worth individuals are now retired, the wealthy are reassessing their priorities. As a consequence, 63% listed their spouse's health as their main concern, followed by their family's financial future at 57%, and their own health at 56%.

But they are not always willing to take steps to tackle these concerns.

Spectrem’s Adriana Reyneri, said: "Despite these high levels of concern, less than one-third have eliminated a bad habit – smoking, drinking, overeating, too much caffeine – over the past five years and ever smaller [percentages of respondents] are exercising more, controlling their weight, eating healthier or seeing a doctor more often."

She added: "Our research indicates that the high net worth are vulnerable to some of the same biased and irrational thinking as less affluent investors – a reluctance to confront one's own mortality and loss aversion."

Spectrem conducted a survey of 500 people worth at least $5 million (€382 million) – excluding their primary residence – for the report UHNW Investor: Changing investor attitudes and behaviors.  

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