Billionaire moguls Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey are highly entrepreneurial with great confidence in their creative ventures. Those are just two of the traits broadly shared by the self-made rich, experts say.
Amassing wealth without a trust fund is no easy feat. There isn’t a magic recipe for making millions, but certain ingredients can help.
Hard work, education, smart investing, frugality, risk taking, and plain ol’ luck were some of the main factors ultra-high-net-worth investors used to describe themselves when surveyed by the Spectrem Group.
CNNMoney decided to dig a little deeper. We asked several wealth experts if they noticed any similar traits or attitudes among their clients with a net worth of at least $5 million.
Here’s what surfaced:
Entrepreneurial: Going into business is a common path among the wealthy. While there are plenty of doctors, lawyers and corporate executives in the $5 million-plus group surveyed by Spectrem, those who go on to become business owners tend to build an even higher net worth.
Always on the clock: The 40-hour work week is like a part-time schedule for many, especially those who have built businesses. A 60- to 80-hour work week is more the norm, as are working vacations, according to certified financial planner Doug Flynn of Flynn Zito Capital Management.
High energy: Many high-net-worth individuals have a lot of energy, don’t need much sleep, and enjoy generally upbeat attitudes, according to psychologist James Gottfurcht, who runs Los Angeles-based Psychology of Money Consultants.
The super wealthy also tend to be visionaries, said psychologist Kristen Armstrong, a strategic wealth coach at Ascent Private Capital Management. She described many of her clients as “force of nature” people.
“I see again and again that they have a really great ability to envision possible futures … [and] an amazing ability to focus their efforts and energy once they see a possibility.”
Extremely confident: Gottfurcht said most of his clients who made their wealth possess what he calls an “expansive, healthy grandiosity.” By that he means a sense of “I can do anything.”
They’re also open to creative ways of achieving their goals.
Armstrong, too, said her clients have great confidence in themselves and others, and firmly believe the world will accommodate their business ideas.
Also common, though, among some of Gottfurcht’s wealthiest clients is what he termed “narcissistic personality disorder.” That is, they think they’re special, “require excessive admiration,” have a high sense of entitlement and lack empathy for others, he said.
Discerning: For all their confidence, Armstrong’s clients know they’re not the smartest person in the room on every given issue. But they know to surround themselves with people who are — which will help them realize their vision.
Among business owners, those who do best are the ones who move past sole proprietorship, and partner with others to expand their enterprises, said Flynn.
Modest: Despite glamorous Hollywood portrayals of the rich life, many multi-millionaires live more modestly. Most of Flynn’s richest clients have chosen not to bump up their lifestyles in lockstep with their growing wealth.
“They still wear their old plaid shirt,” he said. Or at least the men do.
Risk tolerant, but not impulsive: Anyone who runs a business is by nature a risk taker, Flynn noted. But there are no investing swashbucklers among his clients.
They have some short-term investments but tend to have a longer time horizon than most investors. Whether they invest in a stock or a building, they stick with it as long as it still makes sense to them.
But they won’t go all in on one bet, according to Flynn.