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Millionaire Etiquette: Sex and Politics OK to Discuss, but Don’t Mention Money

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High-net-worth investors would rather talk about politics, religion and sex than money, according to a survey released Thursday by deVere Group.

DeVere, an independent financial advisory organization, surveyed more than 1,100 people in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa about subjects they find difficult to discuss with family, friends and colleagues. Respondents had at least $1.5 million in investable assets.

More than 60% of respondents said money was the most uncomfortable topic of conversation. Just 14% said the same about politics. Eleven percent said sex was the most uncomfortable topic of conversation and 8% said it was religion.

Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group, suggested an increasing openness online contributed to the large gap in comfort levels between money and other topics.

“Today, because of the amount of available current affairs information, it is easier to have and share opinions on issues such as politics and religion than it has been for previous generations,” Green told ThinkAdvisor by email. “Talking openly and frankly about politics has become an increasingly acceptable part of everyday life in the 21st century for many people.”

Advisors aren’t likely to see the level of discomfort among their clients. Most of the respondents were working with a financial professional, Green said, noting, “I suspect they are more than happy to talk about money with a professional as they are working with them, primarily, to safeguard and maximize their wealth.”

However, while clients may feel guilt or shame in discussions of money with other people, Green said their interactions with advisors are largely positive.

“When it comes to their interactions with their advisors, it’s our experience that high-net-worth clients channel their energies into ensuring that their wealth is used to improve the lifestyles and increase the opportunities for their loved ones,” he said. “For example, the majority will focus on education planning to help give their children and grandchildren the best possible start in life; retirement planning to be able to enjoy a long, active, financially secure retirement with their families; and estate planning so they can leave a decent legacy for their heirs.  With their wealth, which empowers them and their families to live the life they want to live, comes responsibility, and it’s a responsibility they quite rightly take seriously.”