Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Mutual Funds

American Millionaires: Diverse, Educated and Self-Made

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet)--Wealthy Americans are not living off inherited family fortunes; rather they got to the top the old-fashioned way: they earned it. BMO Private Bank has released research that examines the lives of high-net worth U.S. citizens and reports that two-thirds (67%) are self-made millionaires. Only a scant 3% reported gaining their wealth from an inheritance.

"Our study has confirmed that the American Dream is alive and well," said Terry Jenkins, President and CEO of BMO Private Bank. "The hard work and drive of entrepreneurs across the country continues to animate the spirit of America. It shows that prosperity and achievement are within the reach of all Americans who have the determination to succeed."


The survey of individuals with investible assets of $1 million or more also revealed that more than one-third of wealthy Americans are women, with nearly half saying that they generated their own wealth. Only 29% of affluent females said that their wealth came primarily from their spouse.

American prosperity is also increasingly multi-cultural. Fully one-third of the surveyed millionaires were born outside of the United States or are first generation Americans, with at least one parent born elsewhere. Within this group of "new Americans", an overwhelming 80% reported that their wealth was self-made.


"The face of wealth is evolving in America," said Jenkins. "As an industry, we need to learn to cater to an increasingly diverse client base and provide them with the products and services they require and to strive to have an employee base that reflects the communities in which we do business."

BMO also reported that one-quarter of all high-net worth Americans are under the age of 40. The survey also confirmed that education is a big indicator of wealth, with 54% of respondents having a graduate or professional degree, while just 8% held a high school diploma or less.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick