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Northern Trust Press Release


Wealthy Americans Identify Top National Priorities in Northern Trust Survey



Chicago , December 26, 2012 —

Wealthy Americans say the President’s top priorities ought to be growing the economy and reducing the unemployment rate over the next 12 to18 months, followed by reducing the deficit and ending political gridlock, according to the first in a series of insights from Northern Trust Wealth in America survey. The survey, which explores opinions of wealthy Americans, also found that high net worth individuals are most likely to have planned for tax changes at year end.  

The survey identified the three most important priorities for President Barack Obama over the next 12-18 months as:

  1. Economic growth and reducing the unemployment rate (44 percent)
  2. Reducing the federal deficit (19 percent)
  3. Ending political gridlock (15 percent)

When asked why respondents chose these as top priorities, responses included:

  • "The more people there are working, spending, and paying their fair share of taxes, the better it is for the whole country."
  • "The deficit will create inflation, threaten the economy and create political instability."
  • "Nothing will get resolved unless they (The President and Congress) can work together."

The survey grouped participants as high net worth, affluent and mass affluent. High net worth refers to a person with $5 million or more in investable assets. Affluent refers to a person with $1 million to $4.99 million in investable assets. Mass affluent refers to a person with $250,000 to $999,999 in investable assets.

The Northern Trust Wealth in America survey found that the likelihood of planning for tax changes is a function of wealth. "Results show that high net worth Americans are taking active steps to adapt to a changing tax environment." Northern Trust Tax Strategist Suzanne Shier said. "This reflects what we have seen over the past year as we have helped many clients restructure estate plans, tax liabilities and investment approaches to make the most of opportunities and challenges ahead."

Specifically, the survey found:

  • High net worth individuals are more likely to undertake a wider range of activities to deal with changes in tax rates, including investing in tax-free bonds, revising estate plans, harvesting capital gains in 2012 while rates remain low, and gifting in 2012 to maximize estate and gift tax rates.
  • Mass affluent households are more than twice as likely than high net worth households to do nothing to prepare for impending changes in tax laws (31 percent vs. 13 percent)
  • Of respondents who did not have a tax plan in place for 2012, the number one reason cited was because of uncertainties around the fiscal cliff (28 percent)

Northern Trust’s nationwide survey of wealthy individuals seeks to highlight important wealth management issues. The online interviews were conducted by Phoenix Marketing International and NIA Enterprises between November 16 and December 17, 2012. The data contained in this report came from 1,700 online interviews and has a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence.

Northern Trust is a premier wealth management firm that specializes in goals-based financial advice. We offer clients insightful perspectives and creative thinking, backed by innovative technology and a strong fiduciary ethos. Northern Trust is ranked among the top 10 U.S. wealth managers with $184.1 billion in assets under management as of September 30, 2012, and more than 70 wealth management offices in the United States and abroad. The Financial Times Group has named Northern Trust Best Private Bank in the USA for four consecutive years. In 2012 Northern Trust was also was named Best Private Bank globally for Innovation and Best Private Bank for Socially Responsible Investing.

About Northern Trust
Northern Trust Corporation (Nasdaq: NTRS) is a leading provider of investment management, asset and fund administration, banking solutions and fiduciary services for corporations, institutions and affluent individuals worldwide. Northern Trust, a financial holding company based in Chicago, has offices in 18 U.S. states and 16 international locations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. As of September 30, 2012, Northern Trust had assets under custody of US$4.8 trillion, and assets under investment management of US$749.7 billion. For more than 120 years, Northern Trust has earned distinction as an industry leader in combining exceptional service and expertise with innovative products and technology. For more information, visit www.northerntrust.com or follow us on Twitter @NorthernTrust.