The first thing that came to my mind is because they can use their voting power, but then Warren Buffett started with shares (and then he didn't have enough voting power) and not bonds.

Why do rich people prefer shares with dividend over bonds?

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    Can you substantiate your claim that "rich people" do indeed prefer dividend-paying shares over bonds ?
    – ApplePie
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 22:31
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    The decision between stocks and bonds is growth versus income. What's your source that indicates that rich people prefer dividends over bonds? Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 22:32
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    @BobBaerker I would argue that if you are "rich", whatever that means, it is not so much as stocks or bonds but rather a question of proportion across asset classes / instruments (i.e. diversification). I would be surprised to see a professional investor or a wealthy individual using the services of a professional asset manager investing solely in stocks or bonds.
    – ApplePie
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 23:51
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    While that is true, it expands beyond the either/or scope of the OP's question. Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 0:07

4 Answers 4


I don't think rich people will prefer shares(stocks) with dividend or even bonds. Because in both these cases they will need to pay taxes.

I think rich people will prefer non dividend paying , high growth stocks with high beta.

For middle class should look at asset allocation

  • Buffett in particular likes owning stocks that pay dividends. He has said so many times.
    – zeta-band
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 21:40
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    @zeta-band but Berkshire ( Buffet's company) does not pay dividend
    – Neil
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 23:29
  • If you realize a profit, you have to pay taxes. And if you have years where you aren't realizing any profit/income, then you're leaving money on the table, taxwise, since you're not taking advantage of the standard deduction/lower tax brackets. Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 5:52

The question seems to assume that bonds and stocks are nearly perfect substitutes for each other. They are not. They are exposed to different risks (market risk vs. interest rate risk, primarily) and have expected rates of return that correspond to the market's pricing of that risk.

There are gains from diversifying across stocks and bonds, so I would say that most rich people who are investing wisely are investing in both stocks and bonds. Saying they prefer one over the other is like saying they prefer Exxon over Microsoft. Some people might tilt their portfolio toward one or the other for whatever personal reason, but the smart thing to do is own both. That's the general principle.

Now, is there a reason why rich people right now might be tilting away from bond ownership? Yes, there might. Bonds at the moment are so highly priced that a shocking fraction of them (globally) have negative expected return. There are many investors (like pension funds) who are forced to continue to buy bonds and support these prices. It may be that high net worth individuals are shying away from bonds at the moment because of their high price, but this is not something you should expect to always be the case.

You may also have the impression that rich people buy stocks because certain rich people, like Buffet, buy controlling shares in a company and use their voting power try to change/improve the company. But this behavior is distinct from a standard, passive, investing strategy, like Bill Gates follows.

  • Doesn't the fact that bonds have high prices mean that someone is buying them? Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 5:52
  • @acccumulation Yes. But the OP's question is why certain rich people are not at the moment. If that is true (I'm not saying it is) it may be because prices are high due to demand from others like pension and sovereign wealth funds.
    – farnsy
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 16:05

Generally, all securities on the market can be analyzed for their dividends vs growth potential, and this is called Value on the high-dividend end, and Growth on the low-to-no dividend end; of course this is a continuous scale.
Some investors prefer Growth investment, others prefer Value investments. It depends a lot on their personal situation, and their needs, for example the need (or not-need) to a constant income stream; and it also depends on their personal preferences and risk acceptance.


  • if you want a constant income stream (because you are living from it), Value investments have some advantage, and are often preferred.
  • If you don't need the money for years, Growth investments are often preferred - they have wilder swings, but better overall return expectations.
  • You can of course also split your investments in any way between the two, depending on your preference and needs.

The second dimension is Risk - all securites on the market can be classified by their risk. Typically, higher risk comes with higher expected gain (though not always).

The two dimensions are orthogonal, meaning independant of each other.

Bonds are a different risk class of investment than shares/fonds, and generally have a much lower risk - and equally lower income expectation.
A bond might give you 2% with high confidence, whereas shares with dividends might give you 6% with some risk (and Growth shares 9-10% with a lot of risk).

That should make it obvious why you wouldn't invest all in bonds if you're rich - you don't need all the money right away (if ever), and you get a lot more profit by investing in higher risk classes.



Difference between shares and bonds:

  • By owning bonds, you just hold some generic instrument that is supposed to yield a particular amount but you never know that in case of junk bonds. Quality bonds yield little, so the only way to make real money with bonds is by purchasing junk bonds (I won't recommend that, though)
  • By owning shares, you own part of the company and its future income.

For example, if I think the clean energy sector is a very important sector due to climate change concerns, by buying clean energy bonds I'll most likely get its nominal yield. By owning clean energy shares, there's a potential for massive profit.

If I think climate change concerns benefit forest, by buying forestry company bonds I'll most likely get its nominal yield. By buying forest and forestry company shares, there's a potential for massive profit.

Add that difference to the historical observed result that stocks yield more than bonds, the choice should be clear.

Not-so-rich people may have a lot of government bonds or cash in their portfolios because relatively speaking the need for an emergency fund that should consist mostly of very liquid instruments is larger.

Actually, in the long run, risk with stocks may be smaller than with bonds. Stocks can drop 80% and are expected to yield 8%. Bonds can drop perhaps 10% and are expected to yield 4%. In 43 years, you are 99% certain to have a larger amount of money with stocks than with bonds. Oh, and currently bonds don't yield 4%, they yield about 0% (at least in Europe). Stocks don't yield 8%, they yield perhaps about 7%.

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    Bonds are loans. you just hold some generic instrument that is supposed to yield a particular amount You don't hold some "generic instrument" you are the creditor to a loan.
    – quid
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 18:35

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