The ClientWise Blog

"The rich are very different from you and I."

Posted by Chris Holman on Jun 28, 2011, 10:24:00 AM


Paul Sullivan writes the Wealth Matters column for the New York Times. His “beat” is the wealthy class…from the run-of-the-mill millionaire…to the uber-wealthy, i.e. $30 million and up (POP: 40,000 ELEV: Rarefied) Mr. Sullivan’s articles also appear in The International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times, and Barron’s. In September, his first book is due, “Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t”…which sounds pretty interesting too.

This past week, Sullivan wrote an article in the NY Times entitled, “Picking the Brains of the Super-Rich, and Picking Up Tips.”

The article itself is a compilation of five different wealth studies that have recently been published:

  • World Wealth Report, by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch
  • Risk and Rules: The Role of Control in Financial Decision-Making, by Barclays Wealth Insight
  • Global Wealth Report, by Boston Consulting Group
  • Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Survey, by PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Deloitte Center for Financial Services

Mr. Sullivan’s article does a good job at summarizing the highlights of these studies. For those interested in more granularity, you should read his piece.

My three takeaways from the studies are these:

  • The high-net-worth market is getting more diverse…less white, less male, and less old.
  • Financial advisors who want to appeal to this group should be very flexible, responsive, willing to use all of their firm’s resources…as well as highly emotionally intelligent.
  • Ernest Hemingway was right! *

The last bullet refers to the stunning concentration of wealth among the world’s global elite. 103,000 people of the nearly seven billion people on the planet control 36.1 percent of the world’s wealth. Said another way, 00.001% of the world’s population control 36% the world's money. Double Wow!!
* In a most-likely apocryphal exchange between Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald purportedly said: “The rich are very different from you and I.” Hemingway responded: “Yes. They have more money.”

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