The pandemic has inspired wealthy investors to take a breath and recalibrate their financial goals, and many say they feel guilty about their good fortune and plan to give more to charity going forward.
Those are the findings of the latest Investor Watch report by Swiss investment bank UBS
which surveyed 3,800 people ages 25 and up with at least $1 million in investable assets. The survey was conducted in May 2021 in 15 countries.
The global suffering during the pandemic has led to soul-searching on the part of these affluent investors: 93% said they feel more appreciative of what they have and 66% reported feeling “guilty for being more fortunate than other people.”
About half (45%) of all of the survey respondents said they planned to give more money to charity; 17% said they plan to give less.
“The pandemic has prompted many investors to re-evaluate what matters most to them and now have a renewed desire to contribute more to benefit society,” said Tom Naratil, co-president of UBS Global Wealth Management and President of UBS Americas. “It is incredibly encouraging to see that purpose-driven investment will be a priority for investors in the years to come.”
Gender and generational divide
There was a gender and generational divide among those who reported that the pandemic had significantly altered their worldview. Some 84% of women said they had “reassessed their goals amid the pandemic,” compared to 76% of men; 51% of women said they planned to increase their charitable giving, versus 42% of men.
Younger investors were more likely to report complicated feelings about their own prosperity. Some 78% of those 50 and younger said the pandemic made them feel guilty, compared with 47% of those older than 50. More than half (52%) of the younger investors said they plan to give more money to charity while 35% of older investors said they plan to.
“From a gender perspective, more women have seen the pandemic as a time for reflection,” UBS said in a statement accompanying the report.
‘From a gender perspective, more women have seen the pandemic as a time for reflection.’
That may have something to do with the outsized economic toll the pandemic has taken on women, especially women of color, around the world. Women worldwide missed out on a projected $800 billion in income in 2020 because of pandemic-related job loss and childcare obligations, an analysis by the poverty-fighting charity Oxfam International found.
The pandemic has created starkly different impacts for people from different walks of life. Record unemployment in the U.S., especially among low-wage jobs, left many people unable to pay for food or housing. At the same time, investors, who tend to be wealthier than average, reaped the rewards of significant stock market gains with the Dow Jones Industrial Average
ending 2020 up 7.3% and the S&P 500 Index
Other recent research on charitable giving by upper-income households in the U.S. found that they increased their giving to local causes such as food banks in 2020.
But the pandemic did not result in an increase in the share of affluent households overall who gave to charity — it remained at about 90%, according to a survey of 1,626 households with an annual household income of more than $200,000 and/or a net worth greater than $1 million, not including the value of their primary home.
While many of those surveyed by UBS said they wanted to spend money to help others, they also said they’re ready to spend on themselves, especially respondents in Asia. They named travel and entertainment as their top spending priorities. That’s in line with other recent surveys that have shown Americans primed to splurge on trips, dining out, and parties with friends and family.