Those are the office locations of Bessemer Trust, a privately owned trust company. Established early in the last century to manage a family fortune, the trust has since been expanded to manage the fortunes of others.
And I mean fortunes. While most institutions set their account minimums at $2 million to $5 million, Bessemer starts at $10 million.
If you put their list of offices on a map you'll see two clusters: one for East coast money, another for West coast money. There is nothing west of Chicago until you arrive in Los Angeles.
Now Bessemer is putting a new dot on the map. They're opening an office in Dallas with David K. Holmes and Jeffrey T. Parker in charge.
I spent two hours with them recently, talking about wealth, the growth of wealth in America, and the growth of wealth in the Southwest in particular. I must admit suppressing a temptation to suggest that Bessemer Trust top management might work on its draw if they want to survive in the Wild West, since they failed to notice before the year 2001 that the area is not impoverished.
The clear message, however, is that whatever you call it--- the Third Coast, the Golden Triangle, or the Southwest--- another region of wealth has arrived.
"In Texas alone there are about 35,000 households with $5 million or more. There are 70,000 if you add the contiguous states, " Mr. Holmes said. "If you look at Dallas, Austin, and Houston it's really one continuous wealth market."
Not really. But what got my attention were the close definitions of wealth. This is not the kind of information you see in the Federal Reserve "Survey of Consumer Finances." That survey tells how many of us have savings accounts, checking accounts, home equity, etc.
To learn more I called Jeff Close, marketing director for the Spectrem Group in Chicago. His firm specializes in advice to financial services firms. As part of their work they develop profiles of the Affluent Market. While this market is defined broadly as households with income over $100,000 a year or a net worth of at least $500,000, the firm also subdivides the affluent into segments with much more money.
They estimate, for instance, households with a net worth of $1 million or more, exclusive of their primary residence. They also estimate "pentamillionaires," households with at least $5 million in net worth. It should be noted that their net worth figures exclude 401k account balances. In addition, Mr. Close cautions that population figures should be considered approximations, not actual counts.
Here are some of the most interesting facts culled from these wealth studies:
• Dismal stock market notwithstanding, affluent households grew from 1999 to mid-2000, the date of the last survey. Affluent households grew from 13.4 million to 19.4 million, or from 13.4 percent of all households to 18.8 percent. From 1997 through 1999 the growth rate was nearly 12 percent a year.
• Households with at least $500,000 of investment assets grew from 6.4 million in 1998 to 7.6 million in 2000.
• Households with $1 million or more declined from 7.1 million in 1999 to 6.3 million in 2000. Households with $5 million or more decreased from 590,000 to 530,000 during the same period. That decline notwithstanding, Spectrem expects both groups to grow rapidly over the next 5 years.
• The top 5 millionaire states are California (450,000), New York (273,000), Texas (249,000), Florida (227,000), and Illinois (187,000). Old top wealth states like Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have been displaced. Add the millionaire counts in Arizona (63,000), Colorado (62,000), and New Mexico (18,000) and the Southwest starts to loom large with 393,000 millionaire households. Hermes is going to have to start making bolo ties.
• While most attention to our border with Mexico focuses on poverty on both sides of the line, there are also millionaires in what Time magazine recently called "Amexica." Nearly 5,000 in El Paso, 2,000 in Brownsville, 2,700 in McAllen, and 1,200 in Laredo--- border towns all.
Money grows and money moves. New money grows and moves the most.
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