Crystal BallAttracting attention from venture capitalists is often compared to dating. With investment, as with love, it is not always clear what the other party is thinking. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management recently conducted a survey to discover the attitudes high net worth investors have towards startups.

The results found that 37 percent of Bay Area investors have put money into a startup, and yet fewer than 23 percent plan to do so within the next three years. It would seem the wealthy are looking elsewhere for investment opportunities. As Morgan Stanley’s regional manager Michael Struckman said, “it appears that despite the boost the small companies have given the region, local investors are beginning to cool on the idea of startups.”

73 percent of respondents cited risk as the primary deterrent and expressed fear over losing their money. Millionaires, however, were less concerned on this front than people with between $100K and $1 million in assets. One-third of investors were concerned about possible legal difficulties, while 16 percent were afraid of personal failure.

When they do decide to invest in startups, investors said that innovative ideas are the most important characteristic. 19 percent expect to take a significant role in the ventures, and 58 percent of investors prefer to invest as part of a group.

The survey included 1,000 US investors aged 25 to 75 with $100,00 or more in investable household financial assists, with an “oversample” of 305 San Francisco investors. Of those, one-third interviewed had $1 million or more in household financial assets. 46 percent of the men polled said they have invested in startups, while only 29 percent of women polled had done so.

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