The treatment extended to a UHNWI approaches that accorded to royalty. As a UHNWI, you aren't offered a cardboard cup of day-old sludge from a Mr. Coffee machine. Now you qualify for a china cup of freshly brewed java from a gleaming French press. They'd better get another grinder or two. The Boston Consulting Group reports that 3,000 new households a year lay claim to $20 million or more in invested assets. Should you be among them, put your feet up and just whistle for service.
If getting yourself to a firm's
teak-paneled office is too much of a schlep, the
investment advisers will high-tail it to you.
They'll be more than delighted to take you to
dinner at the best place in town and toast your
success with the finest vintages on the menu.
They go to this expense because they obviously
respect your business prowess and find you personally
charming. Mostly, though, they admire you for
your assets. They will ply you with leather binders
filled with laser-printed pie charts, bar graphs
and three-dimensional wave diagrams. Over dessert,
they will produce PowerPoint slides that show
how your nest egg will incubate and eventually
burgeon into a soaring phoenix that will carry
your Number higher and higher, all thanks to their
nurturing and personal attention.
There is yet one more place to park, higher up and more exclusive still. This spot is for people for whom even discreet, private banking is déclassé. On this level of the ramp you forgo the wealth managers at even the toniest trust companies and rely instead on your own "family office," complete with its own in-house investment manager and staff.
Typically, families with family
offices have $100 million, $500 million, $1 billion,
enough to blow off even the Lehmans, the Goldmans
and the Northern Trusts of the world. At present,
there are approximately 5,000 family offices
around the country. Family offices are not for
strivers -- at least not yet. But family offices
may be going the way of fractional jets, shared
yachts and high-end vacation-home clubs. People
with only 20 million Numbers have begun to band
together to create, in effect, multifamily offices
to oversee their investments and estate planning.
Back down on the street, though, it's another world. Most people have to circle the block, just looking for a way to get into the damn garage.