The nation’s affluent investors are smiling more broadly, and with good reason. Many have recovered from the fallout of the financial crisis in a big way, according to a new survey from PNC Wealth Management.

More than half of the respondents (52%) report that their net worth has grown at least 20% since 2007, and 73% believe they have “a lot of control over their financial future,” the firm’s seventh annual Wealth and Values Survey found.

Given their change in fortunes, it’s not surprising that the nation’s affluent investors – those with more than $500,000 in investable assets – are feeling better about their investment prospects and the U.S. economy, despite continuing worries about the global economic state of affairs.  More than one in four respondents (28%) are optimistic about the U.S. economy, up from 10% a year ago. The slide in the level of pessimism about the domestic economy was even more dramatic, falling from 76% in 2011 to 51% this year.

The world economy, however, keeps many up at night, with 67% feeling bearish about its prospects.

“While the overall survey results show a clear improvement in year over year sentiment, the numbers also paint a picture of cautious optimism,” Thomas Melcher, executive vice president and managing executive of Hawthorn, PNC Wealth Management’s family office unit, said in a statement.

The survey asked respondents for their best and worst investment moves over the past year. Investors cited shifting away from stocks (22%), buying tech stocks (17%) and real estate (12%) as their best investment moves.  Their worst moves were shifting to cash or cash equivalents (23%), international markets (22%) and real estate (13%).

Looking ahead, affluent investors favor the technology sector, with 56% perceiving it as offering the greatest opportunities for gain over the coming year. The healthcare and energy/utilities sectors ranked second.

Affluent investors may have recovered financially from the financial crisis, but some of the lessons they learned from the crisis prevail.  Nearly nine in 10 (88%) believe that it is more important than ever to live within their means, and 76% say they have developed greater appreciation for the non-material wealth in their lives.

The online survey, which was conducted in August and September, polled 1,115 U.S. adults with more than $500,000 in investable assets and a minimum annual income of $150,000 (if less than $1 million in investable assets and not retired).

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