A woman's weakness

With so much attention on the death of the Princess of Wales over the last few weeks, my attention was drawn to the rich and successful women I have worked with and for, over the years. One particular woman came to mind – the details of her case are altered and I have her permission to write under the pseudonym of Janet.

She lived in the Midlands with her husband of twenty years whose name was Alan. He had worked all his life as head of a depot and even though they lived a simple life, they had two children they adored, many friends and considered themselves happy. Quite unexpectedly twelve years ago, Janet received a telephone call during which she was asked to confirm her maiden name and the name of her father, which she did eventually albeit reluctantly. She was then told that her father’s brother, Bernard had died in a car accident in Australia and she was now the main beneficiary of a trust set up under his Will of many hundreds of millions.

She knew little about her uncle other than he was a successful businessman in mining but had brought disgrace on the family by declaring his homosexuality at a time when it was illegal. Janet asked Mark, the caller, to write to her to set out what she could expect and what she needed to do.

I had been Bernard’s adviser for many years and was responsible for setting up the trust under which Janet was to benefit so Mark referred her to me.

We met in the café in the Royal Academy in London and she couldn't be more different than her uncle Bernard - he was flamboyant, stylish, outspoken and sometimes even brash. As we talked through the circumstances of the trust and what she is to inherit, she was of course thrilled but no one could predict how the new found wealth would influence her life.

With her first lump sum, she paid off her mortgage and put some money aside for the children. Alan gave up his job at the depot and Janet and he went on a three-month cruise around the world.

Alan supported Janet by taking it upon himself to liaise with the trustees and conveying to them their needs and interests, and all was fine for many years. Then, Alan developed prostate cancer and had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Janet found herself not only looking after Alan bt also dealing with the trustees which he had done fore years. Unfortunately, she discovered that significant payments had been made by the trustees into their joint account, out of which Alan had transferred substantial sums to himself. 

The relationship between Janet and Alan quickly began to break down. She felt betrayed, she felt that the unfortunate illness had taken a toll on their marriage and soon started looking for ways to become more independent. She bought an apartment in London where she was spending more and more time with her personal trainer Jason, about 25 years younger than her.

She also began building an impressive jewellery collection; she acquired some pieces from teh Elizabeth Taylor collection and had some other priceless pieces of museum quality. She was often asked to lend her pieces to exhibitions and Jason was there to travel around the world with her and help with whatever she needed. Every next time I saw her she always had something new to show me. 

About two years ago, Jean her fine jewellery adviser phoned me in a state of high agitation saying he had seen one of Janet’s pieces for sale. 'Why was I not informed?’ he shouted. We got in touch with Janet and she didn't take Jean's concerns seriously; she actually laughed and said the piece was safe at her London apartment (where she kept most of her jewellery). Jean being Jean and having had experience in dealing with cons demanded to see it for himself and when Janet showed it to him he immediately realised that what she had in her possession was a fake! Her piece was replaced with a fake and the real one was on sale with Christies! 

After a very unpleasant and very long discussion, going through CCTV in her building, aquiring from Christies on the seller of the jewel, Jason was called to explain. He was the only person, other than Janet, who had access to her jewellery. He told us how he had made copies of Janet’s favourite pieces so that Janet could wear them while they were away at museums and didn't think of informing the trustees or even Janet herself because he didn't want to trouble her as she had a lot on her plate. When he was approached by a buyer it was too easy and too tempting not to start selling of the real pieces. He quickly turned vicious, calling Janet all sorts of names and boasting at how easy it had been to rob her.

Janet was distraught; as the case against Jason progressed, she began drinking heavily. I told her that she needed to gather around her professional advisers, who she could trust and gave her my Guidance Notes on how to build an inner Ring of Confidence (which you will find attached to my book When you are Super Rich who can you Trust? due to be republished on 11th October) to work through.

When she had finished, we sat down and worked out what she wanted to do and how we could put together a Ring of Confidence – specifically selected for her. Once a strategy was in place we looked for someone who could help her with her drinking.

I found her an incredible woman who despite the many knocks was still able to simply brush it off and move on, she carried herself with dignity and never complained. Many mistook her for weak or for a fool but Janet learned quickly that the 'friends' you attract because of money can be your worst enemies. She was smart, tenacious and wanted to be surrounded by the right people.

For Janet, I am pleased to say there was a happy ending. Her Ring gave her the confidence she needed to make decisions and it did not take her long to find a new man friend; a private banker. He was perfect for her. He was not her private banker but was someone she could trust because he is able to give her advice whenever her professional advisers are suggesting things of which she is not sure.

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