Atlanta-area investors shared positive sentiments recently about their finances. Results from the latest Morgan Stanley Investor Pulse Poll reveal metro Atlanta high net-worth (HNW) investors, aged 25 to 75 with $100,000 or more in investable household financial assets, show optimism, but concerns linger.
“I am pleased that so many in Atlanta are feeling assured about their long-term financial future. The market had a strong finish in 2013 and clearly Atlantans are feeling confident,” said Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Southeast Regional Director Steve Austin. “It is important to recognize investors’ concerns including future U.S. economic prospects and increased government debt along with the importance of obtaining affordable healthcare throughout one’s lifetime.”
Atlantans are Feeling Confident
Nearly nine in ten Atlanta HNW investors (89%) are confident of achieving their long-term financial goals. For those not yet retired, about eight in 10 (79%) are confident about reaching their retirement planning goals.
In figures equal to or even slightly better than those registered nationally among HNW investors, 63% of Atlanta HNW investors feel the national economy will be the same or better at the end of the year. Even more (88%) expect their own household’s investment portfolios to be the same or better by next January.
Top Concerns for Atlanta investors
Despite expressing confidence in their financial well-being, Atlantans also have concerns. The top five concerns mentioned by Atlanta investors are:
§ Prospects for the U.S. economy (84%)
§ National trade deficit (82%)
§ Government budget deficit (81%)
§ Increased foreign conflicts (78%)
§ Effects of terrorism (76%)
Beyond the top five concerns, a majority of area investors are concerned about having affordable healthcare at all times, Georgia’s financial state, stock market volatility and Social Security for their generation.
Top Investments and Sectors
When asked about investing in local Georgia-based Fortune 500 companies, two-thirds of Atlanta HNW investors stated that they are likely to invest, though a smaller part (25%) is very likely to do so. During the wake of the slump, for a similar Morgan Stanley poll conducted in the first quarter of 2013, real estate was top of mind for respondents. Close to three-fourths (73%) of Atlanta respondents in the latest poll still believe that it’s a good time to buy in the real estate market, but only 14% are very likely to do so. The investments that are viewed most favorably include:
§ Dividend-bearing stocks (54% “good”)
§ S&P 500 Index funds (50%)
§ Dow Jones Average Index funds (46%)
§ Mutual or exchange traded funds (46%)
§ REITs (42%)
The top 5 industry sectors mentioned by Atlanta’s investors include:
§ Technology (82% “good”)
§ Energy (66%)
§ Pharma (61%)
§ Bio-tech (59%)
§ Communications (55%)
Transfer of Wealth
A majority (64%) of Atlanta HNW investors plan to transfer money or other assets to their heirs or others at some point during their lifetimes. Of those, the larger number (47%) plan to transfer at least half of their assets. Children eclipse all other possible beneficiaries and are the most favored recipients: 83% of investors said they plan a transfer to them, then a spouse (35%), grandchildren (25%) and one or more charities (21%). On average Atlanta HNW investors plan to begin the transfer in 19 years.
Along with giving money away, transfer of wealth is a two-way street as 39% expect to be a beneficiary of money or other assets in the future. Nearly all respondents said that the transfer will come from a family member; 80%, a parent or parent-in-law. On average the transfer is expected in 11 years.
Use of financial professionals
Atlanta HNW investors generally seek counsel on how to allocate their assets. Over three-fourths (76%) use a professional advisor, whether a financial advisor, stock broker, a certified public accountant or certified financial planner. A trusted source for 17% is a lawyer, while 13% seek advice from some other qualified professional entirely.
At the same time, nearly all look to a less formal source, either someone close to them – a family member (58%), a trusted friend or coworker (16%) – or the media (48%). Nearly nine in 10 Atlanta HNW investors who use a professional cite clear communication about how assets can contribute to retirement, guidance on asset allocation and analysis of the economy.
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©2013 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC
 Survey Methods: As part of a national survey of 1,004 US investors, age 25 to 75, with $100,000 or more in investable household financial assets, an oversample of approximately 300 Atlanta investors were interviewed. Approximately one in three of those interviewed had $1 million or more in household financial assets. Poll conducted October to December 2013, by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.