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Financial Planning > UHNW Client Services > Family Office News

12 Surprising Traits of the Wealthy

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“The rich are very different from you and me.” In this case, F. Scott Fitzgerald might have been wrong. Wealthy people you encounter are likely to share many of the same values as you, but they may make an effort to disguise it.

1. The rich are cheap. They have an eye for a bargain, but don’t advertise the fact. They may like the best, yet are happy finding the best price, especially if someone does the hunting for them. Champagne from the supermarket chain Tesco is served at Buckingham Palace.

How this works for you: If you can find something they like or use at an attractive price, they should be very interested. This is a private conversation. They may even go shopping with you.

2. Loyal to family. They may have scandals, but they close ranks. They might speak disparagingly about their brother’s drinking, but will leap to his defense if you bring it up. They consider it their prerogative to be critical, not yours.

How this works for you: Speaking about family members in positive terms or highlighting their good qualities is seen as a sign of respect.

3. The rich like to be cultivated. They know they are the ideal prospect for every charity and money manager. Others want access to their social circles. People often give known wine collectors expensive bottles they would never buy for themselves. In these situations, you are picking up the check.

How this works for you: If you have a story to tell, they will likely give you the opportunity. You are picking up drinks, lunch or dinner.

4. Expense-account fueled lifestyle. They might talk about staying in the best hotels and eating in the best restaurants. This might be a perk connected to their high-ranking executive position. They may not be spending their own money.

How this works for you: Knowing this is good for your psyche. They might not mention they haven’t paid for these experiences, but you can make assumptions. Meanwhile, they probably shop at Costco and the local supermarket, just like you.

5. Inheriting vs. buying. Yes, Lady Mary in “Downton Abbey” said “Your lot buys it, my lot inherits it.” Lots of the really cool stuff they have, the things you need to acquire in order to compete, came to them “free of charge.”

How this works for you: Realize they didn’t stop at the anchor department store in a mall and pay full price for their tableware. You should visit some estate sales, where you can pick up similar stuff pretty cheap.

6. Don’t invade the principal. It’s been said the first generation makes the money, the second struggles to keep it and the third loses it. Generally speaking, wealthy families will cut back on their lifestyle and property maintenance, to live within their means, which is often the return on their investments.

How this works for you: You may be able to show how they might achieve a higher rate of income.

7. The rich are charitable. Many wealthy families feel great wealth comes with an obligation to use some of it to improve the lives of others. Many have been great supporters of charities, going back generations.

How this works for you: When you are generous and philanthropic, you are speaking their language. Explain your reasons why.

8. Nothing is forever. Your wealthy friends might collect art or classic cars. You think it’s a static or growing collection that will eventually be donated to a museum. Collectors often see acquisitions as investments. Markets are cyclical. There’s a good time to buy and a good time to sell. They often pay for expert advice.

How this works for you: Investments are cyclical too. You are qualified to give expert advice.

9. Relationships matter. Today, people and companies buy from the lowest cost provider. To keep the business, your pricing needs to be competitive. The wealthy might like a good deal, but they aren’t switching providers very often. They will stick with professional like accountants, lawyers and doctors because they value continuity.

How this works for you: Show how you fit into that category. Your client relationships might go back generations. You are consistently fairly priced.

10. The rich don’t talk about money. In most cases, their reputation precedes them. They don’t have anything to prove. The people that matter, know. New money people feel the need to announce it, diluting the impact.

How this works for you: Be respectful. You can make assumptions without being crass.

11. The rich dress well. There’s always the stereotype of the eccentric who dresses in rags, but most wealthy people show up in public nicely attired. Often, it’s because of their spouse’s efforts. In the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncleexamining an untidy top hat, he remarked “His wife has ceased to love him.” Clothing may be older and mended, but it’s clean and tidy.

How this works for you: Your clothing is clean and tidy too.

12. The rich often travel a lot. They often have the leisure time and financial resources. Talking about travel is like a secret code. If you are worldly and been to the same places, you must be “one of us.”

How this works for you. You have been around too. Swap experiences. Also, remember the wealthy like a good deal. Quietly pass along where you got your great deal.

After reading this you remark: “If they like a good deal, are loyal to family, enjoy the occasional free meal, like to travel and are charitable, that describes me pretty well, too.” That’s where F. Scott Fitzgerald may have been wrong when he said: “The rich are very different from you and me.”

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Bryce SandersBryce 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.


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