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June 14 2016

Income Inequality: How Do the Rich Get Rich

Charlotte Hays

Bernie Sanders believes that some people have too much money and that the government should take steps to spread income more equitably.

So how did these people who have too much money get it?

The 2016 Insights on Wealth and Worth survey conducted by U.S. Trust sheds some light on this question. It surveyed nearly 700 people who have at least $3 million in investible assets. As reported by MarketWatch, individual effort seems to be the way most of the surveyed got rich:

According to the survey, more than three-quarters of the wealthy investors surveyed came from middle-class or lower backgrounds, and earned their wealth mostly through income from work and investing.

They took one of three basic paths to wealth: earning it; investing to get it, or becoming an entrepreneur. Only 10% attributed their wealth mostly to an inheritance. In short, the wealthy have worked their way to their enviable portfolios, and took a long time getting there.

Alas, most of the surveyed became rich not by sexy, daring deals but by the old-fashioned investing method of "long-term buy and hold" strategies. The survey reports that more than eighty percent accrued their wealth through a series of small wins rather than dramatic ones. Most regarded long-term goals as more important than funding current wants and needs. Most stayed invested through the recession and didn't try to time the market.  

Of course, it is easier for the well-off to stay invested through a bad financial season. But they seem to have a special virtue: they dare to be boring:

Rather than looking after their portfolios around the clock and over-diversifying into asset classes they don’t fully understand, getting wealthy slowly is about disciplined planning, regular rebalancing, making sure the portfolio is age-appropriate, and other boring, dull tactics.

Today’s wealthy made their fortunes before most of the alternative asset categories were available in mutual funds, and while younger, less-affluent investors may like the sales pitch, long-term success is about what works over those many years, not what’s hot at the moment.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the survey was the interplay of marriage and money: eighty percent of the surveyed were married, seventy-five percent to their first spouse.

What values to the rich believe helped them? They consistently cite are hard work, personal ambition, and family values.

Hey, Bernie, I've got an idea.

Instead of redistributing the wealth let's try to spread the values of hard work, personal ambition and family values!



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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