Centenarian club: wealthiest investors expect to reach 100

More than half of of the world’s wealthiest investors expect to live to the age of 100, according to a new survey.

Swiss investment bank UBS polled 5,000 high-net worth individuals (HNWIs), defined as having at least $1m in investable assets, across 10 countries including Germany, the UK, US and Taiwan, and found that 53% were confident of becoming centenarians. This is considerably higher than the 80-year life expectancy in most developed countries today.

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The UBS report, entitled The Century Club, concluded: “The idea of living a century was once confined to science fiction. But no longer. For the world’s wealthy, living a 100-year life is not an outcome they consider a mere possibility. It’s one they expect.”

The richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, according to a report by Credit Suisse in November, which highlighted the growing gap between the super-rich and the remainder of the globe’s population.

Numerous studies have provided evidence that wealth inequality is linked to health inequality. Last year data compiled by the Department of Health showed that in the UK the gap between rich and poor in relation to “healthy life expectancy” – defined as a life free of disease or disability – had widened to almost 20 years.

A University of Washington study in the US in 2017 came to a similar conclusion on a “life expectancy gap” between affluent and poorer areas of at least 20 years.

UBS found that the outlook for longevity varies by country and wealth. Three quarters of Germany’s wealthy elite anticipate reaching 100 while less than a third of HNWIs in the US believe they will live that long. In Switzerland, Mexico and Italy the figure is more than two thirds. In the UK, nearly a third (32%) expect to reach the age of 100.

However, even the wealthy worry about having enough money to pay for healthcare when they are older, according to UBS. There is more appetite to work longer and to spend less today to save for tomorrow, amid concerns about how to pay for end of life care.

Healthcare costs are the top concern among those surveyed by UBS, with 52% worried about rising medical bills. In addition, 35% worry about having less wealth to pass on to their children, and 33% fret about being forced to work longer to maintain their lifestyle.

At the same time, nearly eight in 10 believe that work is important for their wellbeing. This belief is particularly strong in Asia (Hong Kong at 93%), and in Switzerland (87%) but far less so in the US and the UK, where the figures are 52% and 59% respectively.

Nine in 10 say their health is more important than increasing their wealth and a similar number believe their wealth enables them to live a healthier life.

Those with more than $10m spend four times more on health than their less wealthy peers. Ultra-high networth individuals with $50m-plus claim they would part with nearly half their riches in exchange for an extra 10 years of healthy life. UAE investors are the most likely to sacrifice more while US investors are the least likely.

The longer they live, the quicker the wealthy are going to give away their riches; and the more likely they are to skip a generation and give wealth to their grandchildren rather than their children.

Nearly two in three plan to give more of their wealth away while they are still alive to see heirs enjoy it, especially in Switzerland but less so in Mexico and the US, where people worry about outliving their assets.