The survey also found that four out of 10 affluent Blacks do not have a will, and more than half have not worked with a financial advisor to establish an estate plan or wealth transfer plan during the past five years.
“Over the past few years the number of affluent Blacks has increased, and we can expect this group to continue having a major positive influence on their families and communities,” said Marguerite Griffin, national director of Philanthropic Services at Northern Trust. “At the same time, like many Americans, too many affluent blacks have not executed wills or other estate planning documents. This is a critical issue because these legal, tax saving instruments are essential tools used to protect one’s legacy and transfer resources to one’s family.”
Northern Trust’s unique survey, the second since 2008, provides insights into the financial attitudes and preferences of wealthy Black Americans, with household incomes of at least $250,000 or a minimum of $1 million in investable assets. The study covered 361 affluent Blacks and 256 affluent non-Blacks to compare their attitudes and behaviors on key measures. The findings were unveiled at the Northern Trust DreamMakers’ forum, held in Washington, D.C. Sept. 10 through 21. DreamMakers’ is a biannual conference for affluent Blacks to discuss creating, preserving and transferring wealth.
Significant differences in charitable giving between affluent Blacks and non-Blacks
The study found affluent Blacks as a group are very charitable. Fifty-two percent of Black respondents give to educational institutions, compared to 39 percent for non-Blacks, while 47 percent of Blacks give to human-services organizations vs. 38 percent for non-Blacks. Blacks were found to be less likely to donate to environmental or animal organizations than non-Blacks, with 36 percent of non-Black respondents giving to such organizations compared to 29 percent for Blacks.
The study found generational differences as well. Older affluent Blacks (55+), are more likely to donate to religious and human-services organizations (57 percent and 55 percent) while younger affluent Blacks tend to donate to educational institutions (37 percent).
Affluent Blacks feel greater responsibility to provide financially for adult family members than non-Blacks
Affluent Blacks, more than non-Blacks, feel responsible for family members and expect to provide them with consistent financial support over the next ten years, according to the survey.
Currently, 50 percent of affluent Blacks said they provide financial support to adult children; 32 percent to siblings; 21 percent to nieces or nephews; and 18 percent to cousins. In particular, financial support of adult children has risen dramatically in the financial crisis, up from 24 percent in 2008.
When asked what needs would be met by their financial support of those family members, general living expenses was the No. 1 response, displacing long-term care and disability, which was the top response in 2008. This year, 59 percent cited general living expenses compared with only 42 percent in 2008.
“Among affluent Black families, there are strong cultural expectations to provide for others,” said Mark Welch, director of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust. “High unemployment and home foreclosures due to the recession, along with other factors such as increasing health-care costs and longer life spans, add to the feeling that affluent Blacks need to do even more to take care of their families.”
High interest in estate planning
The study found that more than half of wealthy Blacks (58 percent) haven’t worked with a financial advisor in the past five years to establish either an estate or wealth transfer plan. Fifty-four percent haven’t set up a personal trust.
However, the study found that wealthy Blacks are interested in learning more about estate planning, and 42% have already worked with a financial advisor in the past five years to establish an estate plan or wealth transfer plan.
Black respondents’ possession of a will was 57 percent in 2010 vs. 52 percent in 2008, and their plans to have a will was 38 percent compared to 29 percent. As for the appointment of an estate executor, the appointment of a family member continues to be the leading appointee as estate executor in 2010 (53 percent) as in 2008 (52 percent). In both years, affluent Blacks established a living trust as the No. 1 personal trust they arranged. Marital trusts have declined, to 23 percent from 30 percent in 2008, as have charitable trusts, to 25 percent from 32 percent.
Concerned about health-care costs in retirement
Rapidly rising health-care costs continue to be the leading financial concern during retirement for affluent Blacks, although that concern has significantly declined from 2008. Fifty-one percent listed rapidly rising health care costs as a concern, followed by large increases in taxes (47 percent), health of their self or spouse (47 percent), possibility of stock-market declines (41 percent), inflation eating into savings (40 percent), financial uncertainty of Social Security and Medicare (39 percent), and the possibility of outliving savings (37 percent). In 2008, rapidly rising health-care costs and financial uncertainty of Social Security and Medicare topped the list of concerns with 64 percent of respondents citing both.
About “Wealth in Black America”
Northern Trust’s nationwide survey of affluent Black households seeks to provide insight into their financial attitudes and preferences. The survey was conducted online in the United States by Nia Pulse, the research unit of Nia Enterprises, LLC, between June 14 and July 9, 2010, among 361 affluent Blacks with household incomes of $250,000 or more, or a minimum of $1 million in investable assets. Two hundred fifty-six affluent non-Blacks were also surveyed to compare their attitudes and behaviors on key measures.