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For the Wealthiest Americans, Money Management is a Family Affair

NEW YORK (MainStreet)--As a result of the 2008 financial crisis, the wealthiest Americans among us are more apt to take a team approach when it comes to matters of family money. In a survey of households with more than $5 million in investable assets, nearly half of the respondents (48%) said that family investment and wealth management decisions are now most often discussed and decided as a group.

The poll of more than 800 individuals representing individuals or families with an average of $1.2 million in investable assets was conducted by independent research firm Phoenix Marketing International for SEI (SEIC) .

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The study concludes that the financial crisis changed the way families view their investments and make important decisions, and the change is greatest among those with the most wealth. For example, only one-quarter of respondents living in households with between $250,000 and $1 million in investable assets say their family makes decisions more democratically after the crisis. The results point to a growing divide in the behaviors and investment decision-making between different segments of affluent families.

And there are other contrasts between the simply affluent and the wealthy.

Beyond the increased family collaboration among the wealthiest segment, the survey also revealed that those with the most wealth are more confident about their family's level of preparation for the future. More than half of respondents (55%) with more than $5 million in investable assets believe the next generation of their family is adequately prepared to handle the challenges of managing substantial wealth. That number drops to less than half (42%) among families in the broader wealth market (households with more than a million dollars in investable assets) and less than a quarter (19%) among investors with less than $1 million in assets.

"The financial crisis was a wake-up call for many Americans, but it has clearly changed behavior most significantly among the wealthiest families," said Michael Farrell, managing director for SEI Private Wealth Management. "The level of collaboration has increased dramatically among the most affluent and perhaps not coincidentally, so has the level of confidence they have in future generations. We've consistently advocated the importance of communication in sustaining wealth for the long term. We only hope it won't take another financial crisis for this to become the norm among families at all levels of wealth."