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October 03, 2013 09:45 ET

BMO Private Bank: Bouncing Back-Almost Two-Thirds of Affluent Americans Say They Are Better Off Today Than Before the 2008 Recession

- Sixty percent are optimistic about the prospects for the U.S. economy

- More than three-quarters are spending either the same or more on vacations, entertainment, and clothing than before 2008

- High-net worth Americans are most bullish about the technology, energy and health sectors

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--(Marketwired - Oct. 3, 2013) - According to a study released today by BMO Private Bank, high-net worth Americans (those with investible assets of $1 million or more) have bounced back well from the 2008 recession. The study found that 61 percent of affluent Americans say they are better off today than they were before September 2008, with only seven percent reporting that they are worse off.

The study is the second in a series by BMO Private Bank that examines trends among high-net worth Americans. It also found that most high-net worth Americans (60 percent) report that they are optimistic about what the future holds for the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, just over half (53 percent) feel positive about the outlook for the Asian economy but less than one-third think the situation in Europe will improve.

"While the recovery started slowly, it's clear that the country's economy has been gaining steam in recent years," said Terry Jenkins, President & CEO, BMO Private Bank. "We're hearing a renewed sense of optimism when speaking to our clients. But they're also aware that the economic situation is quite fragile; they want to ensure, when managing their wealth, that they are insulating themselves as best as possible against any potential market downturns."

Feeling Bullish and Spending More

When asked how they felt about their current savings and investment plans, more than 90 percent of high-net worth Americans are feeling upbeat. Equities (75 percent) and real estate (61 percent) are identified as the top two options that will provide the best opportunity for solid returns in the next five years.

In terms of where they are investing their money, the country's affluent are most bullish about the technology (80 percent), energy (77 percent) and health (77 percent) sectors. They are least optimistic about the outlook for the manufacturing (50 percent), agricultural (46 percent) and mining (33 percent) sectors.

The study also found that wealthy Americans have, by and large, returned to pre-recession spending levels by spending more or the same in a variety of different areas, including:

  • Entertainment and leisure activities (86 percent)
  • Travel and vacations (83 percent)
  • Club memberships (81 percent)
  • Collections and hobbies (80 percent)
  • Clothing and accessories (77 percent)

"It's a positive development that so many high-net worth Americans have returned to, at the very least, pre-recession levels of consumer spending," said Jenkins. "This represents an indication of the level of confidence they have in the country and also helps spur further economic growth." Jenkins concluded by noting, "While there's every indication that the national economy has picked up steam in the last few years, it is important to acknowledge the large number of Americans who are still struggling to recover from the effects of the recession - an ongoing issue that continues to constrain growth."

About BMO Private Bank, a Part of BMO Financial Group

BMO Private Bank offers a comprehensive range of wealth management services that include investment advisory, trust, banking and financial planning to meet the financial needs of high net worth clients. Through integrated teams of experienced financial professionals, BMO Private Bank helps its clients realize their financial and lifestyle goals with solutions that are custom tailored and delivered with the highest level of personalized service.

BMO Private Bank is a brand name used in the United States by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. Not all products and services are available in every state and/or location.

The online survey was conducted by Pollara between March 28th and April 11th, 2013 with a sample of 482 American adults who have $1M+ in investable assets. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is ± 4.5%, 19 times out of 20.

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