From Comic Books to Coins, Most Wealthy Americans Favor Hobby Investing

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Millionaires have more fun, at least with their investments. Sure, they have their share of master limited partnerships and commodities but many add masterworks of art and comic books to their investment mix.

Just over half of high net worth Americans, those with investment portfolios of $1 million or more, invest in their hobbies, according to BMO private bank research. Passion investing can diversify a portfolio to a degree, but most hobby investors (62%) do it because it's "fun."

"We're finding that an increasing number of our clients are engaging in some form of hobby investing," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer for the BMO private bank. "People who choose to invest in their hobbies often do so because it allows them to feel a sense of engagement without having to spend a lot of time on them. Many hobby investors are keen to create a legacy to pass on to their heirs -- one that is unique to them and reflects their interests."

Providing a unique inheritance to pass on to heirs is a benefit mentioned by 40% of wealthy hobby investors. Millionaires also say they invest in their hobbies, because it provides sound investments that will grow in value (39%) and doing so allows them to show off their investments to others (38%).

A garage full of classic cars comes to mind when thinking of investments that millionaires love to show off, and while on the list, it's not at the top. The most widely held hobby investments are:

  • Coins (38%)
  • Art (36%)
  • Jewelry (31%)
  • Antiques and Stamps (28% each)
  • Wine (25%)
  • Classic cars and Sports memorabilia (24% each)

Of course, hobby investing certainly has its downside. For example, Ablin says antiques can be very illiquid and may not be suitable for those who may need to convert them to cash in a short period of time.

In addition, wine and art collecting are not usually suited for those with short-term investment goals. Stamp and coin investments are threatened by a rampant counterfeit market, so investors are cautioned to be wary of authenticity. And while comic book collecting is thriving today, it may not be a long-term play.

—Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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