While wealth is conventionally defined in financial terms, most high-net-worth Americans today associate money with “emotional wellbeing,” according to a report released Monday by Boston Private Wealth.

Among the 300 Americans surveyed with net investable assets between $1 million and $20 million (excluding their primary residences), 65% rank “peace of mind” and 54% rank “happiness” as the top measurement of their wealth, according to the wealth management firm, which is part of Boston Private Financial Holdings. Financial capital (savings, investment, etc.) ranks third.

When asked why they pursue wealth, two-thirds of people surveyed cite “ living a comfortable life” as the biggest driver, followed by “providing family with financial security” (53%), “financial freedom” (50%), and “spending quality time with family and friends” (48%).

“What we found was that these drivers are fluid and highly nuanced—and how we help people create wealth is not simply about financial figures but about the realization of emotional aspirations,” says David Murphy, head of wealth advisory at Boston Private Wealth.

Although money can’t buy happiness, it does bring positive feelings to people who have a lot of it, according to the report. More than half of respondents say thinking about their wealth triggers feelings of satisfaction (59%), responsibility (55%) and gratitude (54%).

However, there are certain negative feelings associated with wealth, too: 64% of business owners and 55% of those with $15 million to $20 million in investable assets say they regretted the family time lost while accumulating wealth.

The survey was done online in February and March by CoreData Research on behalf of Boston Private.

Published 11 June 2018