After reporting a story about Ric Edelman’s planned expansion to eight cities, I was curious about the distribution of wealth in the United States. Which cities were wealthiest? Which might be fertile territory for investment advisors with expansion aspirations?

Even those without a national agenda may need to start keeping a closer eye on geography. Common sense suggests that as the Baby Boom bulge gets closer to retirement, the wealthiest Boomers will migrate to the places they’ve always wanted to live.

Gary Carrai, senior managing director of consulting and sales for wealth manager Fortigent, of Rockville, Md., says that one of the outsourcer’s RIA clients, located in Cincinnati, opened an office in Florida as more of its clients established second homes there.

That idea is borne out in the data that research firm ESRI produced for RIABiz. True, the working cities of the East Coast megalopolis are well represented among the metro areas where more than 3% of households have more than $200,000 in disposable income.

Retirement zone

But there are many more sunbelt cities: the retirement zone.

So, a second office in Boca Raton, to keep up with your clients’ second homes? That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

One note: the cities on this list of places where more than 3% of the wealthiest households are also those that weathered the recession fairly well.

Nationally, households with disposable income of more than $200,000 numbered 2.4 million in 2009, or 2.1% of households. In 2008, 2.3% of households had that much disposable income; in 2007, 1.7% did.

Fell off the list

Between 2008 and 2009, the following cities fell off the list: Baltimore; Cape Coral-Fort Myers; Hartford – West Hartford; Santa Rosa; Anchorage; Chicago-Naperville – Joliet; Bradenton – Sarasota – Venice; Philadelphia – Camden – Wilmington; Houston– Sugar Land – Baytown; Manchester – Nashua; Santa Fe.

Below are the metro areas where more than 3% of the households had disposable income greater than $200,000.

The number of households with plenty of disposable income shrank between 2008 and 2009, but these metro areas held up.
The number of households with plenty
of disposable income shrank between 2008
and 2009, but these metro areas
held up.

ESRI Data Note:
CBSA Metropolitan Demographics
This table lists the demographics for all of the metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Disposable Income is defined as after-tax household income.
Disposable income forecasts are based on the Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau.
Income represents the preceding year, expressed in current dollars.
Household income includes wage and salary earnings, interest, dividends, net rents, pensions,
SSI and welfare payments, child support and alimony.
ESRI’s Demographics – 2009 estimates.
For more information about ESRI’s data products, call 1-800-447-9778 or visit www.esri.com/data