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Research Findings: How Executives Make Wealth Decisions


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A study of executives’ behaviors and preferences reveals how they make important wealth decisions.

Executives face unique wealth planning challenges and opportunities at each stage of their careers. From building a team of advisors and navigating company stock concentration to preparing for retirement, successful wealth management for executives requires comprehensive planning and continuous decision-making.

To understand how executives differ from other wealth owners when it comes to getting the right advice and information they need to make important financial decisions, Northern Trust surveyed 797 high net worth clients and prospects, then focused on the responses of those who self-identified as executives.

Knowledge Breeds Confidence

Executives are confident in their financial knowledge, more so than the broader population of $10M+ investors. Our research suggests that corporate executives feel well-educated when it comes to retirement planning and understanding the markets and the economy.

How corporate executives’ knowledge compares to other $10m+ investors

Executives Study the Markets, Tax Planning and Wealth Transfer

Executives are comfortable doing their own research as it relates to their personal wealth. They regularly study economic and market developments and tax planning strategies.

Corporate executives have a strong interest in economic and market commentary, and becoming more knowledgeable about tax planning and effectively transferring wealth to family and charity.

Our research suggests executives seek but are not finding enough guidance on investing responsibly, planning for long-term caregiving to charity effectively and navigating the sale of a business.

Information corporate executives are looking for

Executives Rely on Advisors to Validate Next Steps

After reading financial news and insights, 65% of respondents called their advisor with questions and nearly half scheduled a meeting with their advisor. This suggests that corporate executives seek counsel on how new information and current events apply to them and what actions they should take given their own unique situations.

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Executives Seek a Quarterback for Their Team of Advisors

Over 85% of the executives we surveyed say they rely on their advisor to build a team of trusted professionals. They also use their advisor to evaluate their estate plans, keep their financial plans aligned with their goals, receive guidance on tax strategies and help provide financial education to their families.

Current and past service usage with a provider

Advisors Must Continually Earn Executives’ Trust

Corporate executives continuously review their managers, and that extends to their advisors as well. Ongoing performance, not the longevity of a relationship, determines whether they will eventually become lifetime clients.

Once I have a trusted relationship with my advisor, I will work with them for life

Find the Right Advice

The Northern Trust Institute is dedicated to helping executives achieve more with their wealth through tailored strategies backed by research and innovation. With a deep pool of experts who specialize in working with executives, we can help you navigate across all aspects of your plan, from managing complex compensation to preparing your family to manage wealth. To learn more, request a meeting.

Dive Deeper

How Executives Manage Wealth

Download the full research report for more executive insights.

Download Report

Find The Right Advice

Our advisors can help you navigate the complexities of executive compensation.


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This information is not intended to be and should not be treated as legal advice, investment advice or tax advice and is for informational purposes only. Readers, including professionals, should under no circumstances rely upon this information as a substitute for their own research or for obtaining specific legal or tax advice from their own counsel. All information discussed herein is current only as of the date appearing in this material and is subject to change at any time without notice. This information, including any information regarding specific investment products or strategies, does not take into account the reader’s individual needs and circumstances and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation or recommendation to enter into any transaction or to utilize a specific investment product or strategy.

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