So far, so good. You’ve networked your way into the right circles. You are on friendly terms with the movers and shakers in town. You see them at events. They are normal people, often philanthropic, enthusiastic boosters of the local community. They aren’t minor royalty, celebrities or obnoxious people. What do they fret about?
When friends get together, they often share what’s on their mind. Although you might think world events, the current administration or upcoming elections are big topics, that’s often not the case. They are often older, or have lived through a few economic cycles. They are concerned about other things.
1. Their health. The wealthy folks you encounter are often older. Once you reach a certain age, you get into a cycle of doctor’s appointments and checkups. Sometimes they exhibit symptoms not easily explained. Their doctor runs test after test, eliminating possibilities. Sometimes, it’s not their health, but their spouse’s health that’s the issue.
You: You are sympathetic. More important, you remember details. “You were having cataract surgery last time we got together. How did it work out?”
2. Their aging parents. People are living longer. If they are wealthy or live in a major metro area, they have access to excellent health care. However, issues like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are tough on families. They want to provide the best care they can. In our area, a guy had aging parents and wanted them to get the best care possible. He built a senior living facility himself, so other people could get the same care he wanted for his parents, too.
You: “How are your folks doing? When we saw each other last month, you mentioned your dad had a bad fall.”
3. The stock market. We are onto a happier topic now. Some, but not all wealthy folks consider investing a fun activity, like a sport. They enjoy talking about how the market is doing. This often crosses over into world events, like U.S.-China trade relations. They often bring up the subject.
You: “Thanks for asking my opinion on trade relations. I try to keep up, using our firm’s research. Here’s what we say … The bigger question is, who will be the beneficiaries in the current trade climate?”
4. Their children. Some are concerned their children don’t understand the value of money or the importance of hard work. Their son might be thinking of taking early retirement at 22 because mom and dad accumulated all this money.
You: “I understand your concern. Has your son ever told you what they really like to do? Something he’s passionate about? Does he have social causes that are important to him?”
5. Philanthropy. Many wealthy people, especially from old-money families, consider giving back a responsibility of great wealth. They serve on boards. They chair capital campaigns. They are always concerned about finding more deep-pocketed donors outside the immediate circle of their friends.
You: “Yes, that is a challenge. The process I use for researching potential business prospects might also work for you in researching potential donors. We can sit down together and I can walk you through it, if you like.”
6. Young blood. No, not transfusions. They are involved with their philanthropic causes. Often their core group is all the same age. Ditto their donor base and membership. They speak of “young people” as if this is some exotic life form, totally alien to them. “We need to get more young people involved.”
You: This could be your opening! You could get involved. You might offer to put together focus group of your (young) friends. This person could talk about their organization and its mission. They could get feedback.
7. Business climate. You might think they are fat and happy. In reality, things are constantly changing. Brick and mortar retailers are concerned about online sales. Traditional supermarkets are dealing with the arrival of discount grocers. Big-box stores eat away at their customer base. Everyone wants to eliminate the middleman.
You: “You mentioned this earlier. I did some research. There’s a group of small stores in a town that successfully held their own when the big-box store came in. I saved the article for you…”
8. Taxes. The tax landscape is constantly changing. The government encourages behavior through the tax code along with collecting money to fund the nation. Although they have accountants, they want to understand how they should be changing their behavior.
You: “I’m not an accountant, but I understand how the tax law changes are affecting the investment landscape. However, you are friends with that guy over there who’s a professor at the business school…”
People with lots of money worry about many of the same things as people with less money. Although you may not share the exact same problem, you are caring and considerate. You are also positioning yourself as a resource. They may know they have more money than you do, but they may consider you part of their circle because you understand their problems.
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Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.