A new study released this week by U.S. Trust shows that high-net-worth Americans get that way not so much because of inheritance but because of hard work. Researchers surveyed 684 individuals with at least $3 million in investable assets, 30 percent of them with $10 million or more.
The survey found that a surprising 77 percent of the respondents grew up in middle- or lower-class circumstances. Of that group, 19 percent grew up poor.
Family values and upbringing — focused on academic achievement, financial discipline, work participation, family loyalty and civic duty — were crucial to their success. Eight in 10 of the respondents described their parents as firm disciplinarians who also encouraged their individual interests and talents, and two-thirds said their parents tolerated their mistakes and failures. Sixty-five percent said their family had a strong tradition of philanthropy and giving back to society.