The century club

The rising prospect of living ten decades 

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19 Apr 2018

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.

In this first global issue of UBS Investor Watch—and the largest survey of wealthy investors in the world—we explore the interplay among wealth, health and longevity. More than 5,000 investors in Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, the U.S., U.K. and UAE shared their views with us.

We found that more than half of wealthy investors expect to live 100 years. However, this expectation varies significantly by country. For example, three quarters of those in Germany anticipate reaching age 100, while less than a third of U.S. investors believe they will live that long.

Regardless of how long investors expect to live, nine out of 10 believe health to be of paramount importance. In fact, they consider their health to be more important than their wealth. However, investors do recognize a fundamental connection between the two. Nearly all say their wealth enables them to live a healthier life.

Despite overall confidence in living longer, many investors are anxious about the financial implications of old age. Healthcare costs are the top concern. They also worry about having less wealth to pass on to successors, and working longer to maintain their lifestyle. In the face of these concerns, investors already have started to adjust their financial holdings and inheritance planning.

As for whether they are successful, the ultimate judge will be time itself.

The big 1-0-0

U.S. investors skeptical about joining the century club

Across the globe, more than half of wealthy investors expect to live to 100. But only 30% of U.S. investors think they’ll make it that far, landing us in last place. The vast majority of Americans believe that health is more important than growing wealth.

U.S. investors want to live longer…

49% want to live to at least 100

...but they are the least optimistic

Only 30% of Americans expect to live to 100

Why the skepticism?

93%: I'm a realist, 77%: The average life expectancy is 80, 66%: No one in my family has lived that long, 53%: Healthcare won’t be advanced enough.

#1 concern: longevity

69% say healthcare costs are their biggest concern

Long live health

77% believe health is more important than growing wealth
71% would rather live a year longer, even if it means passing on significantly less wealth to heirs

Feeling good now

76% are happy with their health today but 57% worry their health will deteriorate in the next 10 years

Mental health over physical health

56% “I want to live if I’m mentally capable, even if my physical health deteriorates.” vs. 29% “I want to live if I’m physically capable, even if my mental health deteriorates.”

Caregiving concerns on both sides of the fence

“I worry my spouse will need to take care of me.”  48% Men 36% Women “I worry I will have to take care of my spouse.” 39% Men 46% Women

Are you ready to live a long and healthy life? Talk to your UBS Financial Advisor.

About the survey

For this edition of UBS Investor Watch, we surveyed more than 5,000 high net worth investors (with at least $1 million in investable assets). The global sample was split across 10 markets: Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, the U.K. and the U.S. The research was conducted between December 2017 and April 2018. In addition, we surveyed 1,662 U.S. high net worth investors (with at least $1 million in investable assets) from March 14 – 20, 2018, including 368 with at least $5 million.