Pessimism has taken hold of America’s high-net-worth households.  Two thirds of these households – those with $5 million or more in investable assets – believe that the country is worse off now than it was in 2007, according to survey findings from Northern Trust.

Their view of their own finances, however, is anything but bleak. Close to three-quarters of high-net-worth Americans were confident that they will achieve their financial goals, with only one in five less confident now than they were in 2007. More than four in 10 (41%) cited improved investment returns as the main reason they feel better off today, according to the survey.

Wealthy Americans were split on their primary investment objectives, with 37% leaning toward growing wealth and 23% focused on generating income. The remainder said their paramount concern was capital preservation.

A different picture emerges for less affluent Americans. Confidence among the mass-affluent, or those with an average of $500,000 in assets, was severely bruised, with fewer than half expressing a high level of certainty that they will achieve their financial goals. And among the affluent, or those with an average of $2.3 million in assets, 60% expressed a high level of confidence. 

The survey polled 1,700 mass-affluent, affluent and high-net-worth individuals between November 16 and December 17, 2012. Mass-affluent participants had between $250,000 and $999,999 in investable assets; affluent participants had between $1 million and $4.99 million in investable assets; and high-net-worth participants had $5 million or more in investable assets. The online interviews were conducted by Phoenix Marketing International and NIA Enterprises.

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