The GFC has pushed nearly one quarter of Australian investors outside the $1 million-plus asset bracket, with many experiencing the most significant fall in wealth ever.
A study of high net worth (HNW) Australians, The End of Certainty, revealed that around half of Australia's wealthy reported a loss in assets of up to 30 per cent following the recession, with more HNW individuals leaning towards ultra-conservative investment decisions.
Released by financial research company, CoreData, the study examined the investment and advice behaviour of HNW Australians in a post GFC environment, surveying 1700 Australians with investment assets of more than $1 million.
The survey found that Australia's wealthy had been polarised as a result of the recession, with ambitious investors - who recognised low share and asset prices as an opportunity to grow their portfolio - benefiting significantly, while frozen or risk averse investors preferring the safety of cash-like assets.
"Our survey shows those who responded aggressively to the rapid change in asset prices have seen their returns grow significantly during the economic recovery," said CoreData principal, Andrew Inwood.
"Defensive investors who remained frozen in cash and cash-like assets during the GFC failed to achieve anything close to the same returns."
Inwood noted the significant growth in conservative investment decisions with around 43 per cent registering as risk averse in 2009 compared with 11.5 per cent in 2007.
"Like all investors, Australia's wealthy have had a turbulent time over the past two years, largely as a result of the exposure they held to the sharemarket, unlisted products and products that suffered total capital loss," Inwood said.
"The conservative trend amongst this group is a clear reaction to these losses."