Richard Harvey Admits To Just A Touch of Penthouse Envy
None of us likes to admit it, but (be honest) we all have a fascination with other people’s money, how much they earn and how they spend it.
As with that famous pre-war picture of slum kids sniggering at top-hatted Eton toffs outside Lords cricket ground, we’re fascinated by the über-wealthy, and perhaps we even feel a frisson of schadenfreude when they go belly up.
Take Ray Grehan, the bankrupt Irish property investor, who has just had his £5.25 million ‘entry level’ apartment repossessed at One Hyde Park, London’s splashiest address. Just dwell on those words ‘entry level’ and ‘£5.25 million’ for a moment, and marvel at what it must be like to live on Planet Loaded.
But it’s all relative. Ray’s flat is a mere crashpad compared to the nearby home of Daimler-Benz heir Professor Gert-Rudolf Flick – a property laughably described in some of the prints as a “country cottage in the middle of London” – which he has put on the market for £105 million.
Herr Flick is 70 years old, which makes you wonder how on earth he’s going to get through all that lolly before he meets his Maker (an appointment at which he’ll doubtless arrive in his £200,000 Mercedes CL 65 AMG coupe).
But enough of this rampant envy. Even in this brave new commission-free world, having a client like Herr Flick must be the dream of every IFA.
Still, consider this: most of the hyper-rich didn’t get that way by spending like Victoria Beckham on a West End shopping bender. If you want a small example, just take a look at the website of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment house owned by Warren Buffett, the American investment wizard and philanthropist.
He didn’t become one of the richest men in the world by wasting money on internet frippery. The Berkshire Hathaway website looks as if it’s been ‘designed’ (I use the word in its very loosest sense) by a 10-year-old geek in a bit of a hurry.
Take the Weight off Your Wallet, Sir
If you’re going to have rich clients, much better that they’re simple folk: lottery winners for instance. I know a chap who once worked in the private client department of one of our best-known retail banks before they, and the others, withdrew from offering investment advice.
Escorted into one of the bank’s finest, wood-panelled conference rooms, the newly-minted millionaire was surrounded by oleaginous pin-stripery. A humble West Country sheep farmer, he was so daunted that he could scarcely utter a syllable. Only the liberal application of Chivas Regal relaxed him sufficiently so he could understand how the bank was going to take very, very special care of his cash.
After all the uncertainty caused by RDR, it’s being reported that consumer confidence is increasing in the competence and trustworthiness of financial advisers. According to research by Axa Wealth, nearly one in five consumers who have never previously sought advice are now planning to talk to an IFA.
However, if you want to take advantage of this trend, then Go West Young Man (or Woman), because Truro, Salisbury, Bath and Shrewsbury are among the Top 10 places where savers are likely to seek professional advice.
On the other hand, four of the 10 places where people are least likely to ask for investment advice are in Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. Naturally, IFA Magazine is far too sensitive to resort to any stereotypical jibes about Caledonian caution.