2009 Archives

Millionaires fear they'll outlive assets


The following is from the May 3, 2009, edition of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Professor Mel Fugate of SMU's Cox School of Business provided expertise for this story.

May 3, 2009

By Len Boselovic
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As if the economy hemorrhaging 600,000 jobs a month weren't depressing enough, here comes more disheartening news courtesy of The Phoenix Companies: The recession is plaguing America's millionaires.

Phoenix's 10th annual survey of the wealthy finds that 30 percent of them are pessimistic about their financial futures, 74 percent feel less wealthy than they did a year ago and 44 percent fear they will outlive their assets.

"The continuing economic turmoil has stripped America's millionaires of their confidence and sense of security. They are feeling far worse off than they did during the last economic downturn in 2003," said Walter H. Zultowski, senior vice president of Hartford, Conn.-based Phoenix, which sells insurance and annuities to high net worth individuals.

Dr. Zultowski has never seen such bearish sentiment in the 10 years he's conducted the survey. . .

Mel Fugate, a Southern Methodist University professor who specializes in management and leadership issues, believes that most will respond to the problems of the affluent with "very little sympathy and certainly no empathy." The assets of the affluent "are far beyond what the average American can comprehend," he said.

"When bad things happen to wealthy people, the average person sees that as the fault of the wealthy," Dr. Fugate added.

Witness the magnitude of the outrage over bonuses at taxpayer-owned AIG. Or the lack of tears shed over the departure of GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, who took a corporate jet to make his bailout plea to Congress last fall.

Read the full story, including other comments from Professor Fugate.

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