Beyond Golf — The Interests of the Rich and Why Advisors Should Care

“Drawing on the wealthy’s interests and passions can help light that spark or strengthen the emotional connection,” states a Wealth-X report.

(Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg)

(Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg)

A wealthy person in the market for a plane, Montana ranch, or Brooklyn Nets season tickets costing $98,900, is probably a man. One sporting a stylish outfit, attending Broadway shows, or who has an affinity for animals, is likely a woman, suggests a new report.

A disproportionate number of men worth at least $5 million had aviation, vehicles, boating, “the outdoors,” and sports among their top interests. Women were more likely to favor fashion, stage and theater, animals, art, and health and wellness, according to a recent report by Wealth-X, a New York City-based research firm focused on the world’s most affluent individuals. (Wealth-X and RIA Intel are both owned by Euromoney Institutional Investor.)

But the personal interests of the rich might be more nuanced and unexpected than wealth managers realize. They should be thinking about those interests, too, according to Wealth-X.

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“The interests, passions and hobbies of the wealthy matter. For organizations that depend on prospecting for and engaging with the wealthy, such pursuits are key to a holistic understanding of an individual, and often comprise an important contribution to understanding what really ‘makes them tick’,” the report says.

“Ultimately, needs and necessities play a far more minor role in the decision-making processes of the wealthy compared with those of the general population. Organizations often need to adopt different approaches to establish a link to the cause, product or service they are offering — and drawing on the wealthy’s interests and passions can help light that spark or strengthen the emotional connection.”

So, what else are the wealthy interested in?

Sports and philanthropy were the top-ranked interests by affluent individuals across the globe. Perhaps surprisingly, public speaking ranked third.

“Although not typically thought of as a particular interest of the wealthy, almost a fifth of this population either engages in public speaking or expresses an interest in it. Many wealthy individuals participate as speakers at public or industry events. This reflects their desire to lead, shape and engage with their working communities but also reveals what is expected of them in their professional roles and in relation to their philanthropic commitments,” according to Wealth-X.

This won’t surprise: Within the top-ranked interests, golf was the most popular sport. Its “association with wealth, status, private clubs and dealmaking in many countries” is why the wealthy favor it.

Soccer, skiing, and tennis ranked well above football and baseball because they are more global sports.

There are some distinct differences across regions of the world. Forty-one percent of the wealthy in the U.S. are engaged in philanthropy, a far greater percentage than other regions (the next highest was 30% of the wealthy in the Pacific region, which is largely Australia). Americans are also much more interested in the outdoors (27% compared to 11% in the Pacific) and aviation (16% compared to 13% in Latin America and the Caribbean).

The wealthy in Latin America and the Caribbean are especially interested in the environment compared to other regions.

“An interest in environmental issues has increased over time among the wealthy at a global level, spurred by the growing need to address a range of crises, from climate change to pollution and loss of biodiversity. Among Latin America’s ultra-wealthy, this interest may reflect awareness of the region’s unique habitats and the important role they have in conservation and biodiversity at a global level.”

Wealth-X surveyed people as young as 25 and over age 70, although more than 60% of respondents were between 50 and 69.

Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is a reporter at RIA Intel based in New York City.

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