The French - should the rich pay more?

The super-rich may not have misgivings about a mortgage or where the next meal is coming from, but they do have their worries. This community is valuable to the country in which they live. In Great Britain, the top 1% pay 30% of our income tax, they spend in our shops and oil the wheels of our economy – and yet in general they are poorly served and often despised – look at the attitude of 70% of the French who want the government to reinstate the wealth tax.


Already concern has been expressed that if the French tax the rich more they will simply leave – as they did before.


Very few advisers are given any training in how to build trust with their clients, so they adopt ‘tribal’ learning. They watch to see how their colleagues treat their clients and simply copy them. Most never stop to think whether what they are doing is building trust or destroying it. But first we need to understand what it feels like to be Super Rich.


George a PR agent, who acts for one of the wealthiest people in the Sunday Times Rich List, arranged to meet his client in a country golf club. George arrived at the agreed time, but still hovering above him was his client’s helicopter and it wasn’t making an approach to land. George phoned to find out why.


The client refused to land due to a charge of £95. George offered to pay – he hadn’t spent two hours travelling to a far-flung golf club only to have the meeting cancelled. The client - in a rage – refused to let him pay. This was a matter of principle. So, George had to plead with the golf club to waive its fee which it eventually did, and George’s client finally landed.


Surely the golf club should be encouraging their members to arrive by helicopter and governments should encourage the rich to live in their country, as it adds cachet to the club. By charging a fee, the club was in severe danger of losing one of their most prestigious members, purely through greed. Their thinking was if you can afford a helicopter you afford a landing fee. As in France – if you are wealthy you can pay a wealth tax. It’s like saying if you drive to the club in a Bentley you pay a parking fee, but if you arrive in a Toyota you don’t.


UHNW individuals are being fingered for money ALL THE TIME. It is hardly surprising therefore that they fly off the handle and appear difficult when they are being fleeced for yet more cash. Being pestered for money is a way of life for them, and most of them hate it, which is why they want to preserve their privacy and live in countries which appreciate their contribution.


We may watch their antics with surprise, but most of us do not know what it is like to be wealthy. However, as advisers, we need to understand them.


UHNW individuals are looking for people they can trust. But trustworthy people cannot be bought with money, because their precious quality is an attitude rather than a product. UHNWs want advisers who care for them, who see them as people rather than money mountains. Unfortunately, there are many organisations which stifle any attempt on well-meaning advisers to provide a personal service for their clients.


Most advisers are not encouraged to spend time with their clients; to find out what are their concerns, hobbies, interests and worries, beyond their immediate area of expertise. A banker or professional trustee, may have an annual meeting with the client or send a letter telling him or her how much the annual fees are going to increase or to cross sell other services from their organisation, without first finding out whether these services are valued, needed or required.


Lawyers, are encouraged to ‘start the clock’ the moment a client comes to a meeting. An engagement letter is sent out without any prior discussion, and by the time the client is billed, the amount on the invoice comes as a complete surprise. Is it hardly surprising that most lawyers have on average 183 ‘lock up’ days – this is the amount of days between delivering the bill and getting it paid.


If a lawyer does not get a bill paid on time and in full, he needs to ask the client why. However so little time is spent explaining what is to be done, what it is to cost and why – ahead of the work actually being done. If a client does not recognize they have a problem or that the advice given provides them with a resolution to that problem, they will not value your work and will resist paying your fees.


Put another way, do you care for your clients or are they only an afterthought to the work you are doing for them?


In a survey of ninety advisers of private client legal services, a staggering 100% said they should keep their clients updated more regularly. Three months later, not one had done anything about it!!!


In my book, which I researched and wrote during a break from legal work, ‘Uncovering secrets; How to win business from Private Clients’ I challenge the existing way most people treat their clients and do business.  Over 8 chapters, I explore, setting goals, planning, time management, getting there, getting more, delivery, retain and maintain and – the holy grail – trust.


Next week I will dip my toe into how to win business from private clients.


If you would like to buy Caroline’s book ‘Uncovering secrets; How to win business from Private Clients’ or her other book ‘When you are Super Rich who can you Trust?’ simply e mail or phone on 020 3740 7422, or buy direct from Amazon or