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UBS Investor Watch Report Reveals Passion Over Profit Drives Wealthy Investors to Collect, But Nearly Half Overpaying for or Regret Purchases

New York Media Releases Americas Wealth Management Americas WM Americas News

Over 80% of wealthy investors plan to leave their collection to their heirs, but 65% of heirs have no interest in keeping the collection.

Key findings:

  • 57% of wealthy collectors are driven by passion rather than profit
  • 81% of investors prefer to pass on their valuables to their heirs rather than sell them, but 65% of heirs have no interest in keeping the collection
  • Over half (51%) of investors have never had their collections appraised and 44% have not insured their collections
  • 47% of wealthier investors (those with over $5 million in investable assets) collect fine art, while only 33% of investors with less than $5 million in assets do the same

November 9, NEW YORK - UBS Wealth Management Americas revealed today that 57% of wealthy collectors are driven by passion rather than profit in its latest Investor Watch report entitled “For love not money,” which looks at investors’ behavior toward acquiring collections and passing them on to their heirs. The quarterly survey, in its twenty-first edition, polled over 2,000 affluent and high net worth investors.

Investor passions cloud judgment, often resulting in overpayment or regret

Most collectors have spent over 20 years accumulating their collections, which represent on average 10% of their overall wealth. Of these valuables, gold and precious metals (49%), fine art (36%), precious jewelry (26%), stamps (22%), antiques (16%), automobiles (15%) and wine (12%) are the most collected items.

Despite spending a significant amount of time and money amassing their collections, many investors (39%) do not know their collections’ full value. More than half (51%) of collectors revealed they have never had their collections appraised, and 44% have not insured their collections.

Passion for collecting can also cloud judgment, with nearly half of collectors admitting that they have overpaid for pieces, or bought or sold an object they later regretted. Four out of five collectors also confessed that if they needed money in an emergency, they would rather sell assets in their portfolio than part with a piece from their collection.

“Investors assign a substantial amount of sentimental value to their collections, but do not always realize their financial value,” said Paula Polito, Client Strategy Officer of UBS Wealth Management Americas. “There is an opportunity for investors to manage collections as a meaningful asset class, by assessing their true worth, and ensuring that they are protected.”

Most heirs have no interest in the collections they inherit

Eight out of ten collectors (81%) intend to leave their collections to heirs. Nearly all investors who inherited a collection felt honored to receive it, but only 35% were interested in the collection and kept it as a result. Thirty-nine percent had no interest in the collection and only kept it out of obligation and guilt; and 26% were not interested and sold or intend to sell the collection. Of collectibles inherited, heirs were most likely to keep fine art, automobiles, antiques and wine. They were most likely to sell gold, precious metals, coins and stamps.

“The data clearly show that most investors have not properly prepared their heirs to manage, appraise or sell their collection,” said Sameer Aurora, Head of Client Strategy for UBS Wealth Management Americas. “This lack of education leaves many investors fearful that their heirs will be taken advantage of and unable to realize the full monetary value should they sell collectibles.”

Wealthier investors are more drawn to fine art

Wealthier investors (those with $5 million or more in investable assets) are usually serious collectors and feel they are getting more in return, both financially and sentimentally, from their hobby. Nearly half (48%) of wealthier investors spend more on their collection over time, compared to 40% of investors with less than $5 million in assets. Twenty-two percent of wealthier investors spend more on their collection than they save for retirement, compared to only 10% of less affluent investors who do the same.

These wealthy investors are also more likely to be enamored with fine art. Almost half (47%) of wealthier investors, compared to 33% of less affluent investors, collect fine art, and 56% of these investors are affiliated with a local museum. They are also more likely to support specific artists (21%) than their less affluent peers (13%). A third (32%) plan to leave their collections to a museum or charitable organization.

“Very often, heirs are more interested in pursuing their own personal passions than following the passions and hobbies of the prior generation,” said Mike Ryan, Chief Investment Officer Americas, UBS Wealth Management. “Family collections can therefore be very fleeting. It is why proper planning is essential to maintaining and growing your legacy as a wealthy investor.”

Notes to Editors:

About UBS Investor Watch

UBS Wealth Management Americas surveys U.S. investors on a quarterly basis to keep a pulse on their needs, goals and concerns. After identifying several emerging trends in the survey data, UBS decided in 2012 to create the UBS Investor Watch to track, analyze and report the sentiment of affluent and high net worth investors. For more information on Investor Watch, visit


For this twenty-first edition of UBS Investor Watch, we surveyed 2,475 high net worth investors (with at least $1 million in investable assets) from September 15 – 25, 2017, including 608 with at least $5 million. With 90 survey respondents, we conducted qualitative follow-up interviews.

About UBS Wealth Management Americas

Wealth Management Americas is one of the leading wealth managers in the Americas in terms of Financial Advisor productivity and invested assets. Its business includes UBS’s domestic U.S. and Canadian wealth management businesses, as well as international business booked in the U.S. It provides a fully integrated set of wealth management solutions designed to address the needs of ultra high net worth and high net worth clients.

About UBS

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. The operational structure of the Group is comprised of our Corporate Center and five business divisions: Wealth Management, Wealth Management Americas, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and the Investment Bank. UBS’s strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates, in order to generate attractive and sustainable returns for its shareholders. All of its businesses are capital-efficient and benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets.

UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in 54 countries, with about 34% of its employees working in the Americas, 35% in Switzerland, 18% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 13% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs approximately 60,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).


For UBS Wealth Management Americas:
Maya Dillon, 212-713-3130
Mobile: 917-615-7094

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